The HVAC system is among the most difficult and complex systems that your home has. It’s important that you choose an HVAC professional that’s well-trained for dealing with all of the safety issues that heating systems have, whether they are oil, natural gas, or electricity, or cooling units that have toxic refrigerants like Freon.
Your HVAC contractor is going to play a big role in the air quality, safety, and comfort of your home. When you are choosing the HVAC professional, take the following steps to find the best one.
Requirements of HVAC Contractors
A lot of states that license these types of contractors require the applicants have at least 2 to 5 years of training or on-the-job experience working with the HVAC systems.
This is important since the HVAC contractor you choose will need a competent understanding about things such as how combustion systems, heating duct airflow, refrigerant, and electrical wiring work with one another to add cooling or heating comfort to your home.
Comfort is not the only thing that is important. It’s also important that you are safe in your home. The HVAC professional needs to know how home exhaust and ventilation systems operate properly when they work with a furnace so that they can prevent injury or death. If your system’s not working correctly or it wasn’t installed correctly, you can be poisoned by carbon monoxide.
A lot of states require an HVAC contractor to have a license and many of the state governments have websites that allow you to look up someone’s license so that you can check a contractor’s license status. It’s often also the case that individual municipalities and cities have specific requirements for their HVAC contractors.
Because work with cooling and heating also may require the repair or installation of plumbing for supplying natural gas or oil to the heating equipment, a contractor also may need to hold a plumber’s license of their own or have a plumber who is licensed on call. But some of the jurisdictions will license the contractors particularly for the work. When you get an estimate, make sure that you are asking if the company is licensed and what kind of license it has.
Questions You Should Ask
If you are having trouble with your air conditioner when it’s the hottest day of the summer or your heater stopped working when it’s below zero, you likely are ready to hire the very first person that can get to your home and fast. But if you’re looking at a costly or major upgrade to the air ducts, air conditioning, or heating system in your home, you want to take some time to research and then interview a few companies before you hire one.
When you are interviewing candidates, here are a few things that you should ask about.
1. Insured, Licensed, and Bonded: A lot of municipalities and states mandate that a contractor in cooling and heating meet certain requirements for their education and experience on-the-job, along with passing written exams so that they can work in this industry.
So that they are able to get the license and continue holding it, many HVAC companies will have to hold a certain level of bonding and insurance. Any type of professional that’s working inside your home needs to have liability insurance so that you’re protected if there’s accidental injury or damage.
2. References: Professional HVAC companies generally have a list of their recent customers which you can request so that you can verify that the work was done by the professional and that it was done well. You also want to make sure that they arrive when they say that they will come and that the work didn’t take forever to complete. You should call the references so that you get relevant information about the project.
3. Estimates: Because installation, replacement, and repair of HVAC equipment is expensive, you should get a minimum of three estimates in written form from three companies.
The cost of the project will likely be the most important consideration for you – and the costs can widely vary depending on the company. You also should ensure that everything is documented in the price estimate, such as the overall scope, information, and the date of completion.
4. Brands Used: When you are looking for estimates for replacement or new cooling or heating equipment, one thing you should ask about is the specific equipment brands or manufacturers they use. Unlike other types of contractors, the HVAC companies will often just carry a small choice of brands. If you are researching to find out prices on the new equipment, it’s possible you’ll have to limit the companies that you hire based on the equipment that you want to use and can afford.
5. System Experience: If your cooling o heating system has a design that is new and that is cutting-edge and energy efficient, you will have to find someone knows about that type of system. Whether you have a system that is new, like the geothermal systems, or you have one that is older because you have an old house, you want to find a professional who has experience with that kind of system and that they are comfortable servicing it.
6. Tax Rebates or Credits: Based on the kind of cooling or heating equipment you are upgrading or installing, the project may qualify you for state or federal tax rebates or credits. Make sure that you are asking about any type of incentives you may be able to get and ensure the project’s documented properly to meet all of the incentive requirements.
7. Payment Schedule: If you are having a particularly large job done, particularly when you are installing brand-new equipment, it’s possible you’ll need to give the HVAC contractor a deposit and make payments during the job’s progress so that the bill is satisfied. No matter what type of payment plan you’re using – if it’s financing through the company or a simple payment plan, you want to read any fine print so that you know what is expected and what you’ll be paying.
8. Service Contracts: When you are hiring a HVAC company to maintain your system or you’re buying a new system, you can get some additional comfort by getting a service contract from the company. This will ensure that your system is regularly serviced by the same company and keeping the system safe and working well.
Although having regular professional maintenance on your equipment can help with improving its efficiency and extending its lifespan, be sure that you understand what you will be paying for and what you are getting in return.
These are the things that you can do to help you find the best HVAC contractor. Taking the time to do your research and find the company that is best will help you to save the heartache that you may have later. The best time to decide what company to use is before something happens to your system. That will give you the time that you need to find the right one for you.