Top 5 Things to Look for when Choosing an HVAC Contractor
January 7, 2016
2

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

  • April Cook June 8, 2016 at 9:25 am

    We need a new HVAC unit and are looking for someone to do the job. I like your tip to find a contractor that will do a thorough home evaluation to find out exactly what we need. Do you usually have to pay for these inspections? Thanks for the help!

    Reply
  • David Hawkins June 13, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Using references and referrals is a great idea to find a good contractor. I know that my friends and family would be very upfront with any positive experiences they had with a certain company or individual. I’ll have to talk to them and see what experiences they’ve had and if they have any good recommendations. Thanks for the info!

    Reply
  • John Carston June 13, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    I can see the importance of hiring an HVAC contractor who is licensed from what you’ve written. I’ll also make sure that the company is covered by insurance, like you said. Experience is also an important factor so I’ll make sure that they are experienced and certified. Thanks for the helpful advice.

    Reply
  • Alise Harper June 13, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    My husband and I are building a house and will need a heating and air contractor to make sure we get exactly what we need for the new house. I liked your comment about getting a home evaluation by a consultant and then getting a written estimate of what the cost could be. I think it is important to have multiple different contractors come and do an estimate making sure you have options and can get the best for your dollar. Thanks for all your tips!

    Reply
  • Kendall Everett June 15, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    Your suggestion to look for warranties and rebates on HVAC systems was really helpful. You can save money in the long run if you have a unit with a warranty like you mentioned. If the HVAC contractor installs your new system, it’s important to get the warranty information from them.

    Reply
  • Charles Kemp June 28, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    I think it would be smart to choose the right license and experience for the contractor. You want to make sure that the air quality is always good. I would make sure that the contractor knows what to do and can make sure that everything is okay.

    Reply
  • Annie Frances June 29, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    My air conditioning just broke yesterday. Obviously that’s a problem because it’s 90 degrees outside. I think I’ll take your advice and ask my friends for recommendations. Hopefully my air conditioning will get fixed soon! Thanks.

    Reply
  • RosarioCChee July 14, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Hello! I’ve been following your site for a little while now and finally got the courage to proceed to supply you with
    a shout from Huffman Tx! Just wanted to mention maintain the
    good job!

    Reply
  • Charles Kemp July 25, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    I am really glad that you mentioned licensing and experience as the first thing you look for in heating and cooling contractors. That should be the first thing that everyone looks at because you want to have a quality appliance that works and not one that is going to give you problems all year round. This is why doing your homework beforehand can really help out.

    Reply
  • Charles Kemp July 29, 2016 at 9:29 am

    I like that the first thing you mention is licensing and experience. I think it is really helpful to work with a company that knows what they are doing and has the certifications to prove that they do. I know that not everyone checks certification but it really is something you should be looking at. It can really help you to find a reputable company.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*

*

*

Testimonials
Contact Us Today