Not all contractors are the same. It is crucial to do your research ahead of time to ensure you get a professional and competent worker. You want the best for your clients; there is a difference between an HVAC contractor that knows how to install an air conditioner professionally and a mechanic that knows the gist of it. In California, especially, the HVAC trade has a bad rep because most of them aren’t really contractors, but instead, workers with the title and equipment. Read more to learn how to choose an HVAC contractor and some tips to ensure that your heating, ventilation, or air conditioning is working smoothly.
1. License from the Contractors State License Board
Often, many HVAC contractors say they are licensed, but usually are working without one. Construction especially is a hazardous industry, and there is too much at stake; a licensed HVAC contractor is qualified to maneuver gas lines, along with electrical and plumbing utilities. You need to choose an HVAC contractor that is an expert and licensed accordingly.
2. Has Experience
As a PM or customer, you should look into the experience of the prospective contractor. It may not guarantee the contractor will do an excellent job, but their establishment in the business indicates that they’re doing their job. To ensure their work is up to par, ask about their training with each type of system and their manufacturers. When asking about their experience, you can also ask if they have certifications. For example, certifications from organizations like North American Technician Excellence (NATE) can guarantee a technician’s education as well as if they’re up to date. Furthermore, according to EPA Section 608 of the Clean Air Act, technicians servicing air conditioning and refrigeration equipment must be authorized by an EPA-approved exam.
3. Offer a Home Evaluation of their Services
If you’re looking to have an HVAC system installed, the contractor should provide a comprehensive home evaluation to resolve the best heating and cooling installation or resolution. Your potential HVAC contractor should evaluate the list below and provide a written itemized estimate so you can compare costs, energy efficiencies, and warranties among different proposals.
Factors that should be considered in the home evaluation:
— Square footage
— R-value of insulation
— Number of windows and the direction they are placed
Factors that should be inspected in the home evaluation:
— Duct system for leaks
— Loose insulation and segments
4. Get References & Referrals
When you have to choose an HVAC contractor, you should ask for references and referrals from other contractors and contact them. Ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers, or local trade organizations for names of HVAC contractors in your respected area. You can ask the company that you are looking at if the company is known for performing clean installation and if they have any complaints from past customers.
Online ratings and complaints are also a way to get insight into the contractor, but keep in mind, anyone can write these, and they could be fake and not accurate. Try to avoid Yelp because they filter reviews and sometimes small businesses have false reviews. Use common sense when it comes to researching HVAC contractors, review the site, read the comments, and do lots of homework!
5. Be Careful When it Comes to Bidding
This isn’t specifically for HVAC contractors; this is for contractors of all trades; it costs more in the long run when going with the lowest bidder. It is best to get a trustworthy contractor, even if they are a bit more expensive. If you do go for the lowest bidder, it might end up costing more for maintenance, repair, or reinstallation. Not to mention the inconvenience if you don’t have heating, ventilation, or air conditioning, especially in the seasons you need them. Often, the contractor that sets a lower bid, they aren’t licensed, insured, or don’t have as much experience; this can hinder performance. Your expectations may be lowered because they will deliver the performance at their lower price. This can lead to short HVAC system life or breakdowns.
If you don’t didn’t know how to choose an HVAC contractor before reading this, now you do! It’s all about doing your research/homework and following your gut instincts. Who is experienced and knowledgeable? Are they permitted? Who is certified? How much do they charge? These questions arise when you need to have a heating, ventilation, or air conditioning system installed. Choosing an HVAC contractor is not an easy choice. Ask around with your friends and family if there’s one that they recommend, and read online reviews very carefully for bias or fake reviews.