10 Questions to Ask When Choosing your HVAC Service
Your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system is one of the most expensive and important parts of your home. These systems are quite complicated, and as such, it is easy for customers to be scammed since they don’t know what exactly a contractor needs to be doing. Don’t let this discourage you from finding a reputable contractor to take care of your HVAC system year round. If you do your research ahead of time, you can find the right company for your needs. This way when there is an issue, like your fan making a weird sound, or hot air coming from your vents in the summer, you will have someone you trust on your side and their phone number ready to dial. Also, if you’ve landed here because you’re considering replacing your HVAC system, you may be interested to read our previous article Signs it’s Time to Replace Your Air Conditioner.
1. Are they certified?
First and foremost, this is the very least you want to do before hiring a new company. It varies from state to state, but in Florida, you want to make sure that the company is a State Certified HVAC contractor.
While it varies from state to state, HVAC certifications have a lot of requirements. So you can see how this certification means more than just a piece of paper. It actually takes years of work and investment to achieve, ensuring that your HVAC receives the best care.
State Certified HVAC contractors are trained in an array of facets of the business – handling coolant alone requires certification, so if you find a business that isn’t certified, move on to the next.
2. Does the quote seem too easy?
If a contractor can give you a bid over the phone right then and there, that is too simple to be true! If you think about what comprises an estimate, it will make sense that a contractor really can’t give an accurate estimate without seeing your home:
- • The size of your home
- • The type of HVAC system you already have
- • Your duct systems
- • The type and quality of insulation you have in your home
- • How many registers (the grilled vents where the air comes out) you have and what rooms they are in
- • How many people and pets live in your home
The more a contractor pays attention to these small details, the more accurate your estimate will be, and the better your service will be in general. A detail-oriented contractor from the beginning is a good sign that they’ll pay attention to details in the future when it comes to considering when and how to replace your HVAC, or how to maintain it. They will also help ensure that your expenses are kept to a minimum because they will give you an accurate analysis of the best HVAC for your home when replacing your it and take note of maintenance issues early.
3. What do the reviews say?
Reviews can be found on Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, the business’ website, and other places online. Select a service recommended for being honest and that has long term customers. Word of mouth recommendations from friends or family are also helpful!
4. Do they have services that fit your needs?
Here are some features to look out for in your prospective HVAC company:
- • What are their hours?
Do they offer evening and weekend hours at no additional charge? It sometimes happens that your contractor will need to come out on a weekend or after hours. If they charge more during these hours, the price can really rack up! We charge the same rate no matter what day or time it is so there are no surprise charges.
- • Do they give you the pricing up front?
In order to make sure you are happy with the rate and that you receive the best work, up-front pricing before the work begins is best. It’s not pleasant to receive a bill at the end of a job and not know what you’ll be asked to pay!
- • Do they offer flat-rate pricing?
Jobs paid by the job, not by the hour tend to be completed more quickly and with no surprise costs at the end.
- • Do they offer a warranty service?
Your factory-issued warranty may have expired, but some HVAC companies can offer warranty service on a variety of brands. This means that they can install the original manufacturer’s warranty parts for you without having to outsource too!
5. Will they let you visit their office or shop?
Not all HVAC contractors have an office or shop, and they don’t need to have a shop in order to be reputable. If a company does have an office or shop, they should be more than willing to have you come in to meet with them. If a company doesn’t want to have you into their location, big red flag!
6. How long have they been in business?
Check how many years in the business the contractor has. While a shady contractor can certainly be in business for years, it is a good sign if a company has been established, especially in one area, for a while. It’s easier to find reviews of long term customers in this case as well.
7. What brands do they carry?
Note that carrying top brands does not guarantee top work. Many people have heard the story of someone buying a top rated, expensive brand of air conditioner only to find out years later upon switching contractors that the previous contractor put in a cheaper unit than they actually sold and the customer was none the wiser. Some scammers will even use top brand’s names to attract business more easily. An HVAC contractor should have a good knowledge of HVAC options and a good understanding of which are the best. At the same time, they should never make you feel like they’re pushing a more expensive option on you without a good reason.
8. Are they dealer certified?
On top of carrying reputable brands, are they certified by those brands? Some HVAC brands offer certification in their specific machines. While each brand varies, some of the requirements are:
- • That they offer the best in that brand’s products
- • That the contractors receive education and training in the brand’s machines
- • That they meet top customer service requirements
9. What do they require of their technicians?
A reputable HVAC company will do all that they can to ensure their technicians are the very best:
- • Background checks
- • Drug tests
- • That they have boot covers, vacuums and drop cloths to make sure your home stays the way it was upon arrival!
10. Do you have a good feeling about them?
As with choosing anyone to work with, you have to trust yourself in your ultimate decision. If someone seems pushy or gives you a bad feeling, you’re probably seeing a red flag for a reason. Choose someone you’ll be happy to have in your home and on your side for years in keeping your home comfortable and efficient.