Need a HVAC Contractor? 12 Must Have Qualities to Look For
You rely on your home’s HVAC system to keep your space comfortable, no matter what season it is. But the more you use it, the more often you’ll need to schedule maintenance and repairs.
Some repairs you can handle on your own. But others are best left to the professionals. Otherwise, you risk damaging the system and increasing repair costs in the future.
There’s more to hiring a trustworthy HVAC contractor than simply calling the first company you find. You need to find someone you can trust. But where do you start?
In this guide, we’ll go over the most important qualities to look for when hiring a trustworthy HVAC specialist.
No two HVAC systems are alike. That means that a few qualities are as important as experience.
Look for a contractor that’s worked in the industry for at least a few years. This doesn’t mean you need to hire a company that’s been around for the last decade.
Younger technicians are a great choice as long as they’ve apprenticed an experienced contractor.
When calling to schedule an appointment, don’t be afraid to ask about the technician’s experience. If the person on the phone can’t or won’t answer you, keep searching.
Most contractor will happily discuss their experience with you. Keep in mind that an inexperienced technician working for an established company is worth considering. Everyone has to start somewhere and they’ll have the knowledge and experience of older technicians to draw from.
License and Insurance
Every contractor should have a valid business license and insurance in place before ever working on your home.
The license is issued by the state and ensures that they have a minimum amount of experience in the industry. The state tests candidates before they receive their license.
This helps create a standard of service across all providers and keeps your home safer from damage. Without a license, there’s no guarantee that the contractor is trustworthy.
Besides the business license, the technician should have current liability insurance in place. Think of it this way: you’re hiring someone to fix your HVAC system. If they damage it, they should be responsible for the cost of repairs.
Without insurance, this may not be the case. Worse, you’ll also be responsible for their injuries if they get hurt on the job!
Take the time to ask for proof of license and insurance before you accept a contractor’s estimate.
A Great Reputation
An experienced HVAC contractor will have tons of previous clients. When they’re reliable and trustworthy, those clients will not have reason to file complaints against the company.
Take a few moments to research each company you’re considering working with. The Better Business Bureau is a great place to start.
If the online reviews and Better Business Bureau ratings are all good, you’re safe working with them. If they’re bad or you see a lot of inconsistency in ratings, keep looking.
Online reviews are a great place to start, but they won’t tell you what you can expect in the long-run after hiring the contractor. Most reviews are given immediately after service, not several months after the work is done.
The best way to find out if a contractor is worth hiring is to speak with their previous customers. Ask each company for references and follow up on those references.
This will give you an honest look at what you can expect from the contractor. If the majority of clients are still happy with the work they did, you can expect the same quality service.
If they’re not or they had to fight to get mistakes repaired, keep looking.
The HVAC industry is constantly changing and evolving. This means that not all systems are the same. And some, especially older models require different types of service.
Make sure your HVAC contractor can handle the types of units you have at home. If you don’t know what you have off the top of your head, go inspect your unit. Most air conditioners and furnaces have the brand printed on the outside of the unit.
When scheduling an appointment, ask if the technician is familiar with that particular brand. If not, don’t panic. Schedule the estimate and let them inspect the system.
Great technicians will be able to service older or obscure brands just as effectively as newer models. They take the time to learn new technology and aren’t stuck doing things the way it was done 20 years ago.
As an added bonus, if they’re not comfortable working on your unit for any reason, they’ll probably know someone who is.
Free Estimates for Service and Installation
No good contractor will charge you for service or installation estimates. It’s just part of the process. After all, they want you to make the best decision for your budget.
Before you schedule the appointment, ask what they charge for estimates. If they quote you a price, walk away. These contractors are out to nickel-and-dime you.
Detailed Copies of All Estimates
Once you schedule your free estimate, you’ll need to make sure the contractor gives it to you in writing.
The written estimate will ideally include an outline of the work that’s needed, the cost of labor and materials, and any additional service charges. You’ll want this in writing to compare their offer with other estimates.
If a contractor doesn’t give you the estimate in writing, you have no way to prove if you’re overcharged.
It’s also important to review the estimate and ask for clarification on any fees that seem out of the ordinary. Make note of any answers and don’t leave your questions on the back-burner.
If the contractor doesn’t have time to review the estimate with you or to prepare a detailed explanation of the costs, keep looking. Unscrupulous contractors often sneak hidden charges into the agreement.
A Dedicated Office/Headquarters
Every established business will have a physical location or headquarters. When hiring a contractor, make sure they list their location. If they’re a mobile business that operates out of their house, that’s fine.
Trustworthy HVAC specialists stand by their repairs. If you notice something wrong after they work on your system, you need to be able to schedule an appointment with your tech. A physical location makes it easy to track them down as needed.
Technicians without a physical location or ones that travel to pick up business should be used with extreme caution.
Traveling contractors may fix a small problem, but once they’re gone, you have no way to get a hold of them in the future. This means you could end up paying twice for the same repair at best. At worst, you could fall victim to an HVAC service scam.
Emergency Service Appointments
You never know when your HVAC system will break down. And for many homeowners, it happens in the middle of the night when it’s least convenient.
Look for contractors that offer emergency service. It may cost more to have the problem fixed in the middle of a cold winter night, but going without heat or air conditioning can be hazardous to your health.
Fast Response Times
Before hiring a contractor, you’ll want to get estimates from different providers. That means you’ve had to schedule multiple appointments. Use this as part of your screening routine.
Look at the companies you contacted. Which ones got back to you the fastest? Which ones didn’t return your calls?
And how soon were technicians able to work you in for an estimate?
The ideal repair specialist will have fast response times, returning calls promptly and scheduling appointments in a matter of days, not weeks.
On-Going Maintenance Plans
Most high-quality HVAC contractors know that HVAC service is an annual thing. They want to keep your system running for years to come.
The key to any great HVAC system is frequent maintenance. Look for a company that offers HVAC maintenance plans.
These plans offer service discounts and priority appointments to help you get your broken system back up and running quickly. Most maintenance plans are available for a low monthly fee. And if you’ve had multiple repairs in the past, they can take the stress out of worrying about your system’s next breakdown.
Find the Right HVAC Contractor
Finding the right HVAC contractor doesn’t have to be a challenge. Look for professional, friendly, and experienced service every time.
When you find the right contractor, you’ll never have to worry about your system breaking down when you least expect it. They’ll be able to fix the damage quickly so you can stay comfortable year-round.
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