Whether you are having a new HVAC system installed or your current system is in need of repair, the contractor that you hire will have a big impact on how much you pay and the quality of work provided. Here are three tips that can help you choose the right HVAC contractor.
Avoid Over-the-Phone Quotes
Paying less for HVAC installation and repair is nice, but cost isn't everything. Contractors who provide over-the-phone quotes before ever visiting the home are more interested in hooking customers with a low price than making their customers' homes as comfortable as possible. Reputable contractors will inspect your HVAC system thoroughly before quoting prices for repairs, and will perform a home comfort analysis before pricing any new system.
During a home comfort analysis, you should expect the contractor to perform several tests to determine levels of air leakage in your home, search for blockages in your home's ducts, and identify other factors that influence comfort levels in your home. Good contractors will also ask about your experiences, such as if you have noticed any hot or cold spots or if you feel that the air is too dry or humid.
Service Contracts are a Good Sign
Unlike contractors in many other fields, HVAC contractors often provide only a few brands of equipment. If you hire a new contractor to perform maintenance on your system, the quality of work could be lower if that contractor does not specialize in providing service for that brand. For this reason, you may be interested in finding a contractor that offers a service contract.
Annual or semi-annual inspections and maintenance is the most basic feature of a service contract from an HVAC contractor. Some contractors may offer additional features in the contract, such as priority service, 24-hour emergency repairs, and discounted part replacements, repairs, and upgrades.
Like any other contract, an HVAC service agreement should be carefully considered before you sign. Even when provided by a reputable contractor, the service agreement may not make financial sense for your unique case. Even if you don't choose to sign a service contract, contractors that provide them are typically high-quality and dedicated to the long-term comfort of their customers.
Ask for Customer References
HVAC contractors that deliver consistently high-quality work will often keep a list of past customers as references. It is a good idea to request customer references when you consider hiring any contractor so you can get a review from someone who has first-hand experience with their work.
Preparing a list of questions before you begin calling references will let you gather several responses based on the same criteria. For example, ask about the initial reason that the reference decided to contact an HVAC contractor, and why they chose to work with the contractor you are considering.
If it has been a year or more since the contractor provided service for the customer reference, ask if they have experienced any problems with their heating or air conditioning since then. This will provide some insight about the long-term quality of the contractor's work.
While not directly related to the quality of the contractor's work, you should ask if the contractor was personable and clearly explained all of the customer's costs. You can also request a numeric rating of the customer's satisfaction and average the ratings to create a "customer satisfaction score" for the contractor.
Your HVAC system is likely to be the largest purchase that you make for your home. Use these tips to choose a contractor with the knowledge and experience to keep your current HVAC system running smoothly or find a new system that you will be happy with for years to come. Click here for more information.