If you sense your HVAC system won’t make it through the season, you may be in a hurry to get it replaced. Fortunately, there are plenty of reputable HVAC contractors that can assist you, but don’t rush to call the first one you find. Take the time to find a reliable HVAC contractor that will do a quality job for the right price.
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How to Find a Reliable Contractor
These days, when most people need a contractor, they head straight to the internet. A quick Google search is likely to reveal a long list of businesses claiming to service and install HVAC systems, but that doesn’t mean all of these businesses are qualified or reliable. So how can you sort through the long list and find the right person to do the job?
A good place to start is with family, friends, and neighbors. If you’ve driven through your neighborhood recently and noticed an HVAC contractor at a home nearby, reach out to your neighbor to ask how their experience has been. Local friends and family are also a good source of information on who to call and—more importantly—who to avoid. Of course, someone else’s experience with a particular contractor may not be the experience you’ll have, but these first-hand recommendations could generate some great leads.
Online service contractors like Angi and Home Advisor can also provide a wealth of information on the different HVAC contractors in your area, and many have been verified by the website itself. You can read reviews, view contact information, and possibly even get a quote for your project all in one place. Searching Yelp and the Better Business Bureau can also be beneficial when narrowing down your options.
Verifying a Contractor’s Credentials
We’ve all heard horror stories about contractors that don’t finish a job, or worse, cause unnecessary damage to someone’s home. So, whether you’ve gotten a recommendation from Angi or Uncle Andy, you should always take the extra step to verify the contractor’s credentials. Start by visiting their website, where most contractors prominently display that they are licensed, certified, and insured. If you can’t find these distinctions on their site, you can often find them on state and local licensing databases.
You may find that the affordable HVAC contractor your neighbor recommended doesn’t hold these credentials and wonder if it’s worth it to save a few dollars. Unfortunately, it could cost you more in the long run. Licensing ensures that your contractor has training and experience, and certification shows that their skills have been evaluated. Contractors with these credentials are more likely to select the right equipment and install it correctly. Your contractor should also have workers’ compensation and general liability insurance, so you won’t be on the hook for injuries or damage to your home during installation.
What to Expect During the First Visit
When you call to make an appointment, get the name of the technician that will be visiting your home, and verify the tech’s name and identity upon arrival. You may also want them to verify their license and insurance at this point, as well. Asking these questions may feel uncomfortable, but these technicians will be working in your home, and the right technician should have no problem providing you this information.
A reliable contractor should also have some questions of their own. They’ll want to know why you need a new HVAC system, when it was last serviced, and the issues you’ve had in the past. If your technician doesn’t ask you these questions before selling you on a new system, it could be a red flag.
The HVAC technician should complete an inspection of your current system and its components to know which equipment should be installed. They should also provide a clear explanation for how the installation process will go, including the timeframe of the project and the equipment that will be installed. Helpful follow up questions include:
- Will you handle any city permits?
- How many technicians will be working on the installation?
- What are the terms of payment?
- Do you guarantee your work?
- Does the equipment have a manufacturer warranty?
Even the best technicians make mistakes from time to time, so understanding the details of your HVAC system’s guarantees and warranties is imperative. Guarantees are typically given by the contractor for the labor completed during the installation, while warranties are offered by the manufacturer and cover the equipment itself. Ask for the terms and conditions to be clearly outlined in writing, including the timeframe for coverage, limitations, and how to make a claim.
Protect Yourself from Scams and Fraud
While most contractors take pride in their work and strive for satisfied customers, not everyone is working in good faith. This is why having a clear contract is so important. No one wants to consider the need for litigation after work is done on their home, but retaining copies of contracts and communications will help you prepare if things don’t go as planned.
Other red flags include:
- Requesting full payment before work begins (though partial deposits can be expected)
- Delaying verification of licensing and insurance
- Deals that seem too good to be true
- Not providing you with a copy of the contract before work starts
Working with a Reliable HVAC Contractor
Installing a new HVAC system is often a necessary but costly project. That’s why it’s so important to find a reliable contractor to do the job. Seek recommendations from trusted friends and neighbors and read plenty of reviews on sites like Angi or Yelp before narrowing down your choices. Verify that your contractor is licensed and insured, and be sure to get everything in writing, from the payment terms to any guarantees or warranties. Reputable contractors will be happy to provide this information, and anyone that is hesitant to do so may not be the best fit. Follow these guidelines today to find the right HVAC contractor for your installation.