How to choose an HVAC contractor – One of the most common things we hear from our clients is how challenging it was for them to find a reliable, trustworthy, and affordable HVAC contractor.
Furthermore, I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume there are far more people who are struggling with this same question.
With that in mind, we decided to write a “consumer awareness resource guide” that visitors of our website and readers of our blog can use when they find themselves in need of a competent and qualified HVAC contractor.
So let’s explore the question –
how to choose a qualified HVAC Contractor.
The first thing to consider is like any profession or skill, not all HVAC companies or service technicians are equal.
Some will offer services that another HVAC service will not.
Some will carry brands that a different HVAC service doesn’t stock.
And some HVAC technicians will be far more skilled when compared to others serving the same area.
For this reason, we never want to choose the first HVAC service we see.
Moreover, we never want to assume just because they offer a particular service, that they are able to complete it with the level of skill and quality you would expect from a trained professional.
I don’t want this to come across the wrong way, though.
In fact, most local HVAC companies DO offer high-quality service.
The purpose of this guide is to help you to ensure you select one of those high-quality service providers, and not a less than reputable service provider who leaves you with nothing but regret.
What To Look For In an HVAC Contractor
In a moment, I am going to outline the most critical factors to consider when selecting an HVAC service provider.
We’ve found the consideration of these factors correlates directly to the level and quality of the HVAC company you select.
In life, few things are more valuable than experience, and this is undoubtedly the case when selecting an HVAC service to partner with.
Now, to be clear, there is nothing wrong with a newer HVAC service. The point being made here is selecting one who’s been around the block, who’s likely encountered your problem before, will allow you a little more confidence knowing whatever HVAC problem you’re facing is likely to be solved quickly.
Why? Because they’ve EXPERIENCED the problem many times before.
This factor is one we believe is critical. Why? Because we’re often called by residents who haven’t read this guide, and who didn’t follow this outline for selecting a local HVAC company.
But when I say “Choose Local,” I actually mean two different things.
- Choose a local company which is close in proximity to you
- Choose a locally owned company
Lets quickly unpack each of these.
Choose a local company which is close in proximity to you.
Whenever selecting an HVAC contractor, always choose a company that is local to you. Let’s say within 30-50 kilometres (Or about 20-30 miles.)
Why? For long term protection and assurance. Here’s the deal: t’s not uncommon for a homeowner to find a company somewhere in Timbuktu who’s promising a great deal or killer bargain.
However, what the homeowner hasn’t considered is down the road when they run into an issue, or whatever they installed is no longer working correctly.
Are they going to be willing to travel to repair it or cover it under their warranty when you’re no longer paying them out of pocket?
Furthermore, what about emergency issues, are they going to be able to make it within a timeframe reasonable to solve the immediate problem you’re facing?
This isn’t even considering the possibility you signed a rental or lease agreement on a piece of equipment where legally no other HVAC service can touch the installation.
Choose a locally owned company.
The second meaning of “Choose Local” is pretty self-explanatory.
Select a locally owned and operated company. Don’t call one of the provincial/state-wide or national HVAC companies.
Why do we recommend this? Well, there are several reasons, but a few to consider are as follows:
- Do you want your technician to be a commission-based salesman who highly incentivized to sell you the most expensive equipment or service when it may not be the best choice for your situation?
- Would you be worried about signing a highly unfair and, in some cases, misleading contract for HVAC system rental or lease agreement? We’ve met people who cannot sell their house because no buyer is willing to take over their HVAC lease agreement because of the loanshark level pricing and interest, along with truly scary penalties if broken.
- Many of these outfits hire the cheapest labour and least experienced HVAC service professionals because they are new to the industry and don’t expect the salary someone who’s been working in the HVAC profession would expect if hired by them.
- The business models most of these outfits adhere to is all about volume and selling the most expensive equipment for the highest prices in the shortest time frame. Conversely, a local company that is mindful of their local reputation and relies on referrals as a primary source of business is going to care far more about the quality of work they put out as they’re putting their local business name on it as well.
These are only a few of the reasons why we believe when selecting an HVAC contractor, your best bet is to choose a highly regarded local HVAC firm.
Read Online Reviews.
As the old adage does – “Never judge a book by it’s covered.”
Every contractor is going to present themselves in the best light because they, of course, want your business.
There isn’t much inherently wrong with this, unless what the company is presenting is in stark difference to the truth and reality.
That’s why doing your due diligence on a company can be so helpful.
It will usually show you what the business is not willing to say about themselves, their services, or their past history of business transactions.
This is where online service reviews can be so valuable. With so much business conducted online these days, you can find various sites that have a particular section for consumers to post reviews about companies they’ve worked with or had dealings with.
In some cases what you discover can be quite eye-opening (both negatively and positively)
Don’t just look at one site; look at multiple review platforms. Look at Google, Yelp, Facebook, home advisor, trusted pros, HomeStars, yellow pages.
You want to get a broad picture, so take the time to look at multiple review sites.
Never Accept or Trust an Estimate or Proposal Over The Phone.
Once you’ve gone through the reviews, you will naturally compile a list of contractors you would get in touch with to find out what they can do.
Many will try to be helpful and even ask for more information. However, be wary of that contractor who attempts to give you an estimate over the phone.
Every HVAC unit is different, and each in turn is bedeviled by different problems. This means the unit may have different issues, and what you described over the phone might be symptoms of something different.
A good contractor is one who will schedule a home visit and conduct an inspection of your HVAC unit and system. This makes it easier to figure out all the problems associated, and also give you a proper estimate on repairs. All this will be done after the contractor has conducted a proper walk through your home, including the attic, and conducting various checks.
The Contractor Should Be Licensed.
Everywhere there is a trade that requires certain standards, there usually is a body that is mandated towards maintaining the quality of the trade and the standards associated with it. This is one of the reasons why you should insist on seeing the license the contractor has before allowing them to make an assessment of your HVAC system.
The Contract Should Be on Paper.
Making agreements by word of mouth used to hold water. But this only works n cases where both parties will not try to shortchange each other. In certain states such as California, an agreement by word of mouth is still considered a legal contract.
A verbal agreement has a lot of wiggle room that an uncouth contractor will try to take advantage of. If anything were to go wrong, proving that in a court of law is difficult. If the contractor wants to make an agreement by word of mouth, pick someone else.
A reputable contractor will come with a ready contract, or will send you one. On the contract, they will include the repairs that need to be done, and also list the price for each job.
Be wary of low bids.
A HVAC system is absolutely crucial to your home. As such, it would not be prudent of you to take shortcuts with the service that you will receive. A good number of the low bidders will do a poor job, either because of lack of experience, or they are desperate for the job.
A HVAC system is something that should be running in your home for periods between 10 to 15 years. This is one of the reasons why they are costly, as they are built to last for very long.
A low bidder can do the job for you at a cheap price, but it will end up being costly in the long run. This is because they may end up installing a HVAC that is in poor condition, just too keep the prices down. This cheap HVAC will obviously not last, and you will have to repeat the job in a situation that may cost you more money.
Also, a contractor may take a look at the HVAC system you are using and decide to replace your defective one with a similar system. If your contractor tries to do this, they are most probably trying to get rid of their old stock.
The new HVAC system to be installed in your home should be the latest model. Don’t expect a 1998 Subaru to operate at the same level as a Subaru from 2018. You will spend more time conducting repairs rather than actually enjoying your HVAC system.