7 Things You Should Know Before Hiring an HVAC Contractor (and Avoid Getting Scammed!)
How many horror stories have you heard about contractors who couldn’t complete the job they were hired to perform? Ask any homeowner you meet and you’re bound to hear at least one story regarding the incompetence of a contractor that wasn’t properly vetted before being hired. With this plethora of bad press, it’s easy to understand why some homeowners are concerned about hiring a contractor to complete work on their home.
Fortunately, there are a lot of steps you can take to ensure that you hire a professional and reliable AC repair contractor. With this knowledge readily available at your fingertips, you can rest assured that your contractor will have the tools and the experience necessary to repair your HVAC unit with ease.
Do your homework
What is the easiest way to avoid being scammed by a contractor? Ask lots of questions about their licensing and insurance policies before you commit to receiving an estimate from their company. You can start by researching what the requirements are for an AC contractor in your state. The requirements for a San Antonio contractor to perform legitimate work within the city can be found on their government website.
In order to perform work in San Antonio, the company must have a Texas Operating License and should be able to provide you with the license number. All technicians should carry their Texas Department of License and Regulation (TDLR) card. Those who will be handling refrigerant should also have an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) card to show they have been properly trained.
These are the absolute minimum requirements you should accept from a technician and potential HVAC company. Without these standards, you may not be able to hold your technicians accountable to produce quality work based on their licensure. They may even perform unsafe work that could be dangerous to your home and family if they aren’t properly trained on how to handle refrigerant.
The company has positive references and reviews
There is nothing better than getting a personal referral for a contractor who did an excellent job on someone else’s home. No amount of research can give you the peace of mind that comes from personal experience with a specific person whom you know and trust. Don’t be shy to ask friends and family about HVAC contractors that they hired in the past. Jot down any names that come up, including those that they wouldn’t recommend to others.
When you see a contractor come up multiple times from various friends and family members, you may want to mark this company as one of your top choices to investigate further. This could be a better starting point than finding names out of a phonebook or internet directory.
Find out if they use subcontractors
When a company becomes overwhelmed by the volume of work they face, some managers will start to assign jobs to subcontractors. These independent contractors don’t actually work for the company you hire, and they may not be held to the same standards as their regular employees. In fact, it can be extremely difficult to hold these subcontractors to the same high-quality standards that employees may be subject to on a daily basis. Try to avoid using companies who work with subcontractors as their primary means of correcting AC issues.
Your HVAC company should communicate and provide all warranty information
If you’re getting a quote for a potential repair or a replacement unit, you need to look for a company that thoroughly communicates and provides you with all warranty information. The warranty on a particular product is essential to giving you peace of mind and protection if the unit should malfunction in the years ahead. Even a workmanship warranty should be explained upfront to prove that the company is willing to stand behind the work they perform in your home.
Be sure to ask about the warranty on any parts or work you agree to in advance. Always maintain written copies of the warranty so you know the requirements necessary to uphold your agreement in the years ahead.
Avoid contractors who quote you over the phone
The truth is that you can’t accurately diagnose an issue with the AC unit over the phone. A good technician who has some experience may be able to guess at your problem based on a description of the symptoms, but it can’t be confirmed until they lay eyes on the unit itself. When you describe the issues you’re experiencing, you should be wary of a contractor who immediately quotes you a price without ever setting foot in your home.
Look for a company who keeps a decent stock of necessary parts
There’s nothing worse than finding yourself without air conditioning in the middle of a brutal San Antonio summer. Some companies may prolong your discomfort with long lead times on common parts that they don’t keep in stock. You should ask whether the company keeps a current inventory of standard replacement parts for a variety of manufacturers and models (including the specifics of your own model if you have it available).
At Classic Air Conditioning and Heating we want to minimize the disruption to your climate-controlled home. This is why we bring a van of fully-stocked parts with us to each job site. Being prepared enables us to reduce your wait time and helps your home to start cooling down significantly faster.
Find a crew that cleans up after themselves
Is there anything more irritating than spending hundreds of dollars on an AC repair and still needing to clean up the mess afterward? Ask a potential company how employees are expected to leave the job site at the end of the day. A reputable company often requires that employees clean up any mess generated by their repair work. This may mean sweeping, vacuuming, or dusting away any debris that was generated during the construction process. While they aren’t going to be thorough housekeepers, it does give homeowners a chance to relax after the financial stress of the day.
Hiring the right AC contractor can be tricky and overwhelming for a homeowner who is in a bind. It’s best to do your research in advance of a potential HVAC crisis so you can research and vet companies at your own leisure. No matter how quickly you need to find an HVAC technician, these tips should help you to avoid a potential scam artist posing as a legitimate contractor. You can rest a little easier tonight knowing that you did your research so that your repair ended up being money well spent on your home.