According to the Department of Energy, improper HVAC installation can reduce the efficiency of your system by up to 30%.
Has yours started to show sign of wear and tear? It’s one thing if it conks out on a pleasant spring day. It’s another to find it on the fritz in the middle of a sweltering summer.
As we prepare to transition into a warmer season, this is the ideal time for a tune-up. If yours is in need of repair, time is of the essence. Yet, even if it’s functioning fine at the moment, it’s important to keep it up and running.
Wondering how to find a reputable HVAC contractor for your needs? While many may tout expertise and experience, it’s critical to find one with the reputation to back up those claims.
Today, we’re sharing a few ways you can ensure the best technician in your area visits your home, so you can rest assured your systems are in good hands.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!
Require Licensing and Experience
One way to narrow down your long list of local HVAC contractors? Require that every contractor has appropriate licensing and training.
Put simply, technicians should not be working with brands they are not licensed to install and maintain.
Why? Your HVAC system is one of the most expensive features of your home. One wrong move and you could be looking at a hefty invoice, structural damage, personal injury or worse.
HVAC Contractor Licensing
If you’re an Idaho resident, your HVAC contractor should be certified and licensed through the Idaho Division of Building Safety. This documentation is required for any professional seeking to install, maintain or repair the following:
- Heating, ventilation or air conditioning appliances
- Gas-fired equipment requiring special venting
- Gas supply piping systems and subsystems
There are also HVAC licenses that cover specialty areas including hearths, waste oil, fuel gas pumping and more. If you’re in a different state, this list details which government department to contact to check your contractor’s license.
Ask every prospective contractor on your list if they hold an active license. In addition, the company should also hold a minimal level of bonding and insurance to make sure they’re covered in case of an emergency.
The Importance of Training and Experience
Even with a license in hand, your HVAC contractor still isn’t qualified to work on your home systems. Next, ask to learn more about their work history and on-site training hours.
In short, you want to know they’ve been in the field, not just in the classroom.
Inquire on how familiar they are with HVAC systems in your particular neighborhood. Have they done many installs and repairs around there? Where did they complete their training and how many hours did they put in?
Hands-on experience is one of the most important distinctions between a credible HVAC repair contractor and one who could put your systems and safety at risk.
Request a Home Evaluation
Especially if you’re in the middle of an HVAC emergency, you want a technician who can come in and quickly handle the maintenance.
While you do want someone who works in a proficient manner during these time-sensitive repairs, steer clear of anyone who rushes through new installation work.
Before installing a system in your home, your technician should take the time to perform a thorough home evaluation first. This way, they can suggest which systems will work best for your needs and current setup.
If someone suggests a high-priced model without stepping foot in your front door, look elsewhere.
Factors that your technician should take into consideration during the home inspection include:
- Your home’s square footage
- The R-value of your insulation
- The number of windows in your home
- The direction those windows face
- The condition of your current duct system
When it comes time to size your system, square footage shouldn’t be the only consideration. Your technician should feed the gathered data into industry software called “Manuals” to perform in-depth calculations.
HVAC Manual Calculations
Manual J will determine your heating and cooling loads. Manual S will dictate the size and type of equipment. Manual D explains how to design the duct system. Manual T details the air distribution basics.
You need a contractor who will perform all of these calculations at the onset to ensure the system you purchase and install is the right match for your property’s long-term needs.
When the evaluation is complete, you should receive a written, itemized invoice of how much the proposed solution will cost from each contractor. This way, you can compare the pricing, home warranties, and energy efficiency of each option.
Analyze Reviews, Referrals, and Ratings
These are the three “Rs” that drive every successful HVAC company. Put simply, if a contractor isn’t backed by a bevy of satisfied customers, keep looking.
You want someone local to your area who comes highly recommended by friends, family members or co-workers. Ask them who they used and why, and if they’d make the same decision in the future.
If you don’t know anyone who’s had a similar service performed, hop online and research the companies in question. Any worth its salt will have a website, where you can read client reviews and assess feedback.
Research shows that 84% of people trust online recommendations from strangers as much as they trust input from someone they know. While you should be wary of a company that only posts glowing reviews with little detail, it pays to do your due diligence.
They may have a social media presence and an online business profile, where you can check out what others are saying about them and to them. You can also check with local trade organizations in your area to see who they recommend, and remember to look up their rating on the Better Business Bureau.
Requesting Direct References
Another way to vet your options? Ask every contractor you speak to for a complete list of references. Then, play HR manager at home. Call every reference and ask them a few questions, including:
- Was the job completed on time?
- Was it within budget?
- Did the contractor test the system after installation?
- Would you use this company again?
Outside reviews aside, take a look at how the company presents itself. Are its trucks clean and in good condition? Are the company name and logo visible on vehicles, business cards, and other promotional gear?
A solid contractor doesn’t have to have a sky-high marketing budget, but they should take pride in their work and put their best foot forward. The same goes for the appearance of their employees and their courtesy level on the phone.
Ask About Special, Energy-Efficient Offers
There’s no denying that your HVAC system is a major expense. As such, you should ask around to see which of your top contractor choices can provide the most cost-effective deal.
Are there any that are currently offering rebates or special offers? For instance, some will offer discounts for clients who mention seeing an online ad or a social media post. Others will give lower rates to repeat customers, or ones who make referrals.
While you’re at it, inquire on green, energy-efficient models. Ask your contractor if they carry any products that meet Energy Start standards and how these solutions can help lower your monthly utility bill. Also check to see if any can provide you with eco-conscious devices, such as programmable thermostats, that can integrate into a whole-house smart system.
Concerning these conversations, you should feel comfortable enough to bring up these questions when speaking with your HVAC contractor. If you feel as though communication is strained or non-existent, continue your search. You shouldn’t be forced into making a quick decision and you should have time to bring up any concerns you have along the way.
Find the HVAC Contractor You Need Today
Whether you’re looking at a new installation or you need someone to come out and repair your existing system, having an HVAC contractor on speed dial is a valuable resource.
Knowing you have the best in the business gives you the peace of mind you need to as a homeowner through all four seasons.
Are you in the market for an HVAC professional you can trust? We’d love to help.
We’ve been serving the greater Boise and Treasure Valley area since 1972 and know a thing or two about what it takes to keep the region running. From home heating and air conditioning to water heater services and repairs, we do it all.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help and why we’re the best fit for the job.