Avoid Costly Mistakes when Hiring an HVAC Contractor
Hiring an experienced contractor is key to making sure your installation and service is completed properly and to your satisfaction.” said Dale Gerber of Homestead Comfort, located in Ellington, Connecticut. Dale and his brother Jeff are the owners of this local family-owned business providing heating, cooling, plumbing, water, oil delivery, and home energy solutions. These are some of the recommendations they make to homeowners prior to hiring an HVAC contractor:
- Don’t hire an inexperienced contractor. Make sure the contractor is licensed and insured. He or she should also focus on the whole house system. Looking only at individual components means they are not taking into consideration how efficient, or how hard your system has to work to keep up with the home’s demand.
- Do your research. If this is an annual maintenance, or if you are experiencing a malfunction, know what type of equipment you have. This may help the contractor to better understand potential issues before he or she even enters the home. This may also help to save diagnostic and repair time during servicing. Keep in mind though, this may not always be possible.
- Look up the contractor. Understanding the contractor’s capabilities by reviewing their website, checking their rating with agencies such as the Better Business Bureau, etc… will give you an idea of what customers are saying about their experiences. Be careful however, while positive reviews are what everyone strives for, a negative review or two may not necessarily mean you should pass over that company. A better way to look at this is, how was the issue handled. Let’s face it, no one is perfect, but they should strive for customer service and satisfaction.
- Safety is key. Make sure the contractor does not skip any steps. When testing for carbon monoxide for example, he or she should not only look for cracks in the heat exchanger, but they should also test the flue for gasses and measure depressurization.
- The contractor should never offer a bid over the phone. A complete inspection should take place first. This ensures that the correct recommendations have been made and an accurate proposal can be offered. This also avoids unforeseen issues and an up-sell at the time of servicing.
- Check for equipment and labor warranties. A reputable contractor will not only supply you with the proper manufacturer’s warranty paperwork, but they also offer a labor warranty on new installations for the work performed.
- Maintenance contracts. Just because a new unit has been installed does not mean you should neglect its maintenance going forward. Annual maintenance is a key factor in keeping the unit functioning efficiently over its lifespan.
- Negotiating. Beware of smaller companies that are willing to negotiate just to get the job. Often times, renegotiation means something will be left out. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples when deciding on the right contractor for you. Those companies that are less willing to negotiate may have something that shows they know their business and exactly what your home requires. Don’t always opt for the cheapest option.
- Get it in writing. Signing a contract ensures that all parties are on the same page. It should include the project guidelines, budget payment schedule and estimated start and finish time for the job.
- Build a relationship with your contractor. The right HVAC contractor will not take advantage of you. They tend to be more loyal to long-term customers and will make the effort to service you as quickly as possible. They are familiar with your equipment, understand your home’s needs, and will avoid letting things becoming drastic in the first place.