Is your air conditioning unit making quite a ruckus? Perhaps it’s the middle of winter and your furnace is leaving you freezing, even with three extra quilts heaped upon you. No matter what the situation is in your home, you need to ensure that you’re hiring a qualified HVAC repair person to get the job done right the first time.
Repairing HVAC systems properly is crucial to the safety of your home. There’s an excessive amount of electricity or gas that is funneled into each of these units. When repairs are made improperly, you may be putting the wellbeing of your home and family at significant risk. It could even require the assistance of other trades to right your HVAC repair technician’s wrongs.
Before you officially enlist the help of a technician, make sure you know how to check their qualifications. Follow these guidelines for asking questions to make sure you’re getting the best services for your home.
Is your contractor licensed?
Having an official license to do HVAC work is an absolute must for any technician or company that you hire. The state requirements for obtaining a license will vary, but the same basic tenets apply. Contractors who want to be licensed for HVAC work must have a certain amount of experience or training in order to be eligible. Many states require contractors to pass a written exam to demonstrate their proficiency and knowledge.
Being licensed means your professional has the basic understanding of how to properly repair and maintain heating and cooling systems, at a bare minimum. Feel free to ask if they’ve been licensed for a long time and how experienced a company’s senior technicians are in order to get a better idea of how much work they’ve done.
Are they insured?
Most states will require a licensed contractor to hold some sort of insurance and bonding. This protects you as a homeowner and the HVAC repair company. If something were to happen on your property, liability insurance can kick in to help cover the cost of any damage or injury.
Without liability insurance, any major harm done to your home as a result of the work performed may come back under the umbrella of your homeowner’s insurance. Your insurance plan may not cover the full cost of the damage, even after your deductible is paid.
Do you know anyone who used this company?
Sure, the phone book may have the contact information for twenty heating and cooling companies, but do you know anyone who used them? Getting referrals from your close friends and family can give you the peace of mind that comes from personal experience. Be specifically on the lookout for referrals for work similar to what your home will require.
If none of your friends and family can offer a referral for HVAC work, consider asking potential companies for testimonials. Short snippets telling how satisfied previous customers were (or weren’t) will help you to make a better decision.
What brands do they carry?
There are certainly some manufacturers and name brands in the industry that deserve recognition and praise for their quality. Unfortunately, there are also some name brands that are better known for higher profit margins without any significant unique benefits. Be sure to check with a prospective air conditioning service company to see which brands they offer.
It’s normal for companies to automatically recommend a specific brand, but they should carry several to give homeowners a choice. Multiple name brands ensure that the company is more concerned with finding a unit that’s the right fit for your home and budget instead of simply their own bottom line. An air conditioning company should carry multiple sizes, makes, and models from a variety of manufacturers in order to give you the best selection.
Do they conduct actual home visits?
It may sound like a no-brainer, but not all HVAC companies actually come out to your home in order to diagnose the problem. Some companies believe that they have enough experience to recommend the proper course of action just from hearing a homeowner’s description over the phone. This is an extremely unreliable way to pinpoint the cause of an issue.
If it’s recommended that you replace the entire system, Energy Star typically recommends that your HVAC professional will spend an extended period of time in your home. They will need to investigate the full size of your house, insulation, windows, and even your duct system to determine your exact needs.
How will you receive an estimate?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a verbal agreement on the cost of your repair work will hold up in court. All of your quotes for HVAC repair should be written down, preferably on company letter head and marked with the name of the individual giving the quote. This gives you a little more security to ensure that you know what you owe when the job is complete.
However, it should include more than just one simple figure at the bottom of a blank piece of letterhead. Make sure that the exact specifications of the work have been spelled out clearly. Model numbers, labor charges, and part replacements should be itemized on the sheet. This allows you to compare the actual cost of the pieces to other bids.
Don’t forget to sign this estimate before beginning the work.
There are plenty of criteria that you should consider before signing on the dotted line with a heating and cooling company. Remember that the lowest bid isn’t necessarily going to be the best, especially if they can’t provide the standards shown here. Save yourself money in the long run by hiring a qualified HVAC professional the first time around.