Top 5 Things to Look for when Choosing an HVAC Contractor
January 7, 2016
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Top 5 Things to Look for when Choosing an HVAC Contractor

Is your HVAC system 10 years old or more? That means you may be looking at replacing it in the next couple of years. On the other hand, if your HVAC system is newer, you want to ensure that it keeps running right by scheduling at least annual maintenance. Either way, sooner or later you will need to hire an HVAC consultant. Here are five areas to consider during your search.

1. Licensing and Experience

Your HVAC system is probably the most expensive equipment in your home, and you want assurance that whoever works on it has appropriate training. Ohio requires proper licensing for contractors in the HVAC industry; to obtain a license, a contractor must have five years of experience in the field prior to the date the application for the license is filed. In addition to the Ohio license, a company should be able to hold a minimal level of bonding and insurance. Insurance is to protect homeowners in case of injury or accidental damage.

You should also ask about a prospective contractor’s experience. While longevity alone won’t guarantee that a contractor will do a good job, stability in the business indicates a contractor is doing something right. What’s more, you can ask about the certifications the contractors and technicians have: certification through such organizations as North American Technician Excellence (NATE) helps to guarantee a technician’s education and experience are up to date.

Technician training may encompass many facets of the industry, but among the most important are the handling of refrigerant and air balancing. Are the company’s technicians certified to handle refrigerant? Under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act, individuals not properly certified should not be handling refrigerant. This is of particular importance as the switch from Freon (R-22 refrigerant) to R-410A progresses. Today’s technicians should also be trained to test and balance installations for maximum efficiency and comfort; the National Comfort Institute’s certification in air balancing provides a standard for training that the homeowner should be aware of.

Further, ask if the contractor carries top brands, and about technicians’ training with these brands: each system/manufacturer is unique, and a quality consultant will ensure that technicians have had the right training to optimize installations.

2. Home Evaluation.

If you’re looking to have an HVAC system installed, potential contractors should offer a thorough home evaluation to determine the best heating and cooling solution. Factors to be taken into consideration are square footage of the home, R-value of insulation, how many windows there are and which way they face. Contractors should inspect the duct system for leaks, loose segments and insulation. The Sizing of a new system should not be done based on square footage alone, but rather on calculations determined by data fed into industry software known as Manuals J (for cooling and heating loads), S (to determine size of equipment) and D (for ductwork).

Once you have an evaluation, the prospective contractor should give you a written, itemized estimate so you can compare costs, warranties and energy efficiency among the proposals. Do not go by low price alone. In our climate, for instance, a better quality, more efficient furnace may offset a bigger price tag by using less fuel over time.

3. References and Referrals

Ask for references and referrals and call them up. Ask if jobs were completed on time and within the budget. Ask if the company performed clean installations and respected the homeowner’s property. Did the company test the system after it was installed to ensure maximum efficiency? Run potential contractors past the Better Business Bureau to see what kind of complaints are registered. You can also go online to check complaints or ratings, but keep in mind that many online reviews are fake. Glowing reviews without details and bitter diatribes without specifics are suspect.

When you’re seeking referrals, ask your friends, neighbors or co-workers. Ask local trade organizations for names of their members in your area, or consult online services such as Angie’s List or the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.

A good HVAC consultant will also show pride in his or her company: trucks should be in good repair and the company name emblazoned on vehicles.

4. Rebates and Special Offers

An HVAC system is a major expense, so shop around for rebates on energy-efficient equipment, or ask your dealer about specials. Ohio utility companies offer some rebates for installing efficient equipment.

5. Efficiency

Efficiency is important. When shopping for an upgrade, you want the most efficient equipment you can afford. Ask the contractor about Energy Star-rated models. Energy Star is the government’s program for rigorously testing HVAC equipment for efficiency.

To learn more about choosing an HVAC contractor, contact us at Air Authority of Mason. We’ve provided residential and commercial HVAC solutions for our southwestern Ohio customers for the past 15 years.

118 Comments

  • Jeff Curtis February 22, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks for providing these top 5 things to look for. I really think that finding an hvac contractor that is licensed is really important. I like your tip about the home evaluation, if they are good they should offer that check up. I will ask around at work, and with my friends to see if there is anyone they would recommend. Thanks for the help!

    Reply
  • Vicky Durrant March 17, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    I’ve been having some issues with my home’s heating and cooling system, so I decided to hire a professional to repair it. I’ve never hired an HVAC contractor before, though, so I’m happy that I found your post! I really liked your tips, especially what you mentioned about asking potential contractors for references. I think that if an HVAC contractor’s past clients were happy with their work, I will be too! I’ll be sure to keep this tip in mind while I search. Thank you for the advice!

    Reply
  • Lillian Schaeffer April 18, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to ask for references and referrals when looking for an HVAC contractor. My husband and I just moved into a new house, so we need to find a good service to do maintenance on our heating and cooling system. We’ll definitely ask for referrals so we can see how they performed for past clients. Thanks for the great post!

    Reply
  • Jen Pack April 27, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    My husband and I just moved to a new area and we are in need of a new HVAC company here so I really appreciate this information. I like the tip you give of looking for a company that is willing to offer rebates and special offers. That is something that would make a company unique and something that would grab my attention. I will be sure to keep this in mind!

    Reply
  • Bob Lowe May 19, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Thank you for the post. I completely agree that it is important that the company come to your home and do an evaluation. That way they will be able to provide the best options that will be good for your home. I also like that you talked about getting a quote from them after they evaluate your home. I think that is really important as well.

    Reply
  • bomb it 7 May 20, 2016 at 12:44 am

    Hi there mates, fastidious article and pleasant urging commented at this place,
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  • Jeff Curtis May 24, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks for this helpful post on choosing an HVAC contractor. I have been having some issues with my air conditioning unit, and I want to be able to find a contractor that I can trust for along time so I can continue to hire the same contractor when I need work done. I will for sure be looking for someone with a lot of experience, and someone that is licensed. I also like what you said about looking for rebates and special offers. Thanks for the help!

    Reply
  • Kyle Wayne May 25, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    I like the advice that you shared about choosing an HVAC contractor. It seems like heating and cooling is an important aspect of a new home and I will not take this decision lightly. The point that you made about finding an air conditioning professional based on experiences seems like a good way to find quality contractors. I will internalize this information as I continue researching my local HVAC options.

    Reply
  • emily bennette June 1, 2016 at 12:57 am

    This is some really good information about how to choose an HVAC contractor. I like what you said about making sure that they are efficient. That way, you know it will be installed properly.

    Reply
  • Sarah Smith June 3, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    My furnace broke this last week and I’m trying to get it fixed. Thanks for the advice about getting a home evaluation so that you can get a written, itemized estimate. Hopefully, I can get a contractor to help me fix my HVAC system.

    Reply
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