Top 7 Tips For Choosing An HVAC Contractor

by R.F. Ohl
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HVAC technicianWhen it comes to a new heating or air conditioning system installation and air conditioning repair, finding a competent HVAC contractor is as important as the equipment itself. You must not only spend time in shopping for the right equipment. Shopping for the right contractor must be given time and effort as well. Finding a trusted contractor can be tricky. An incompetent contractor can cost you a significant amount of money. To help you save on time, effort and cost, use these seven guidelines when hiring a contractor or air conditioning technician.

1. Always choose a contractor who complies with state laws and regulations.
A competent contractor can provide a license or a certificate from an accreditation body. He must comply with local codes. Some state requires a license while other does not. State licenses may require a technician to pass a written exam, to carry insurance, complete a required number of related experiences or submit an audited financial statement.

Additionally, a competent contractor must have earned his certification or associate degree in heating, ventilation and air conditioning from an accredited school. For instance, in Allentown PA, there are only eight accredited HVAC schools. You can search for this information online to check if the school your prospective contractor graduated from is accredited.

2. A competent contractor can provide references.
A good contractor is not afraid to provide customer references. He can provide you with several references with contact numbers. This goes to show that he has some previous experience and that he does not hide anything from his past projects. Just try to make sure that the references he provides are not fake or paid ones. Apart from asking about the contractor’s performance, also ask about the details of the project. Ask about the service done, the time it took for the project to be completed, budget range, after service cleaning and quality of work done. Try to ask them if they would recommend the contractor to friends and family. Would they try to hire them again for future repairs, installation or maintenance? You may also ask if the contractor offered rebate through some residential rebate program.

3. Choose a contractor who delves into the problem.
A good contractor asks questions about your heating or air conditioning system. He is interested in finding out about the comfort your air conditioning or heating system gives to your home. His primary goal should be to determine the main problem, provide appropriate solution to the problem and provide customer satisfaction in the process. For instance, he can recommend modifications or additions to your system if he identifies high humidity, poor air circulation or air pollution problems. Additionally, if he finds any problem or issues in heating, ventilation and air conditioning in your home, ask for an extra service because you can save on cost if you include these extras in the initial installation.

HVAC unit in Allentown PA

4. Choose a contractor who does an in-home inspection before providing an estimate.
If a new installation is needed for a new heating or cooling system, a manual J Load Calculation should be done by the contractor. This will provide an estimate of the heating or cooling needs of your house. In order to calculate this, your contractor must gather some information first. He will definitely need to visit your home for a physical inspection. Expect the contractor to check the lay-out of the house including the windows, insulation status and the amount of sunlight streaming inside the house. Take precaution of contractors that advise installation of a bigger unit without properly doing a manual calculation. It may be more than the required for your home needs. Besides, a bigger unit is also more costly to install, maintain and run every month.

5. A good contractor provides written documentations from proposals to estimates.
A professional contractor will never commence work without a written contract signed by both parties. A written contract shows an agreed upon project costs, job schedule, scope of project, type of service, type and model number of equipment to be installed (or repaired) and any warranty information. It serves as a protection for both parties so the job is done exactly as agreed by both parties.

Written estimates should include labor costs, price of the unit to be installed or replaced, additional services to be done, timetables, payment schedules and person responsible for obtaining permits. In addition, if you think a bid is too high, do not be ashamed to ask why. It would also help if you ask help from a knowledgeable person to take a look at the written estimate to see if there is something that has been missed. However, as a rule of thumb, pick the middle-priced estimate among your available choices.

6. A good contractor does not miss to educate the customers on how to maintain the system on a daily basis.
Some contractors do not educate the customers about daily maintenance such as filter replacements and simple filter cleaning. He should be able to give you instructions on how to operate the thermostat. He should be able to give you tips on how to determine if your unit needs repair or replacement. He should be able to educate his customers to perform maintenance if they can and only contact a technician for complex or advanced issues. Apart from this, a contractor should honor the warranty of the equipment throughout the period.

7. A good contractor helps save the environment.
A quality heating or air conditioning contractor should be concerned with the environment as well. He must be aware of the importance of protecting the environment; therefore, he must use equipment with Energy Star certification. Heat pumps and air conditioning units utilize hydro chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) and Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC). These two chemicals are greatly damaging to the ozone layer. A knowledgeable contractor should know this fact. Therefore, he would not do something that could release HCFC or CFC into the atmosphere. He is trained in the proper way of disposing, recycling, recovering or reclaiming of used air conditioning and heat pump parts.

An HVAC contractor is as important as finding the right equipment for your home needs. Although there are many heating and cooling system contractors found in your local area, half of the investment would still be finding a contractor that can maintain your equipment, do some re-installation or perform an air conditioning repair. Remember that the cost does not end with installing a new unit; it still continues as long as you own a unit. Finding a trusted contractor you can work with for an extended period of time is essential when it comes to your heating and cooling needs.

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