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

  • Ellen Hughes June 27, 2018 at 3:01 am

    It’s nice that you suggested contacting the references of the HVAC contractor that you’re interested in so you can be sure that your HVAC job is going to be completed on time and within the budget. Our HVAC system has been acting up since the other day. It’s important for me to have it repaired by an HVAC contractor that has a good track record of satisfied clients in the past because of their fast and reliable service. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Sharon Wilson-Smith July 6, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    I like that you suggested contacting the references of the HVAC contractor that you’re interested in so you can ask them if they do the job on time and within the budget. My husband and I bought a new AC, and we’re looking to install it as soon as possible. It’s important for us to make sure that the installation of our AC is going to be done within the day, so we’ll make sure to consider all your tips.

    Reply
  • Georgia Sheriff July 9, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    It was sure nice that you suggested contacting the references of the HVAC contractor that you’re interested in to make sure that you can their past customers if they can complete the job on time and within the budget. One of my friends is interested in hiring an HVAC repair contractor because her HVAC unit is acting up. She mentioned that she badly needs her HVAC system to be up and running as soon as possible, so she only wanted to choose an HVAC contractor that can guarantee an efficient repair within the agreed time. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Ava Murphy July 11, 2018 at 12:22 am

    I like that you talked about how you should call the references of the HVAC contractor that you’re interested in to see if they have a good record of completing projects on time and within the budget. My supervisor at work said that the HVAC installed in the office needs to be repaired. It’s important for him to make sure that the repair is going to be completed as soon as possible because he is expecting potential clients to visit the office soon. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Deborah Adams July 11, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    It’s nice that you said that you must consider contacting the former clients of the HVAC contractor that you’re interested in to find out if they have a reputation of completing projects on time. My husband bought a new AC which we’d like to install. It’s important for us to make sure that our old AC is going to be replaced with a new one as soon as possible so we can finally have a comfortable sleep again. We’ll make sure to find an HVAC contractor that can guarantee us a 1-day job. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Deborah Adams July 11, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    I do like that you suggested choosing an HVAC system that’s most efficient and within your budget. This is something that I will make sure to remember because I’m planning to replace our old AC. It’s important for me to make sure that our new AC will help me to save money from our energy bill, so I will make sure to consider all your tips.

    Reply
  • Charlie Samson July 13, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    I like that you suggested asking your friends, neighbors, and co-workers for referrals to find a good HVAC company. Our boiler has been making irritating noise since last night, so I’m looking to replace it with a new one. It’s important for me to make sure that the installation of our boiler is going to be completed properly, so I only want to hire a boiler installer that’s highly recommended by the people that I know.

    Reply
  • Katie Wilson July 31, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    I agree that a good HVAC contractor is licensed. It would be good to consider their license because it would show that they are qualified. My husband and I are looking for an HVAC contractor, so we’ll have to check their license first.

    Reply
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