Choosing the right heating and cooling contractor is probably the most important part of purchasing a heating and cooling system (gas furnace, heat pump, air conditioner).
A professional contractor will be able to assess your situation, make good recommendations and will be sure to properly size your equipment for optimal performance.
HOW TO RESEARCH A HEATING AND COOLING CONTRACTOR
- Check Industry Credentials & Professional Associations – Every industry has related associations and certifications to help consumers identify reputable professionals. In the HVAC industry, common affiliations are ACCA and PHCC. When considering a n HVAC technicians or installer, you may want to ask if they have NATE certification. NATE (North American Technician Excellence) is the top certification for technicians in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration industry.
- Check Online Referral Sources – The Better Business Bureau is a consumer protection service that makes sure repeat offender to not take advantage of consumers. Angie’s list is an excellent resource for contractors and a great place to conduct research. If there are any unresolved complaints you’ll find out about them.
- Check Reader Generated Reviews – Today you can find out what other consumers have to say by checking out Google reviews and or Facebook pages. To see online reviews, go to your search bar and type in http://www.google.com/maps Then type in the business name and location to check your contractors place page for reviews. This information is readily available and can aid you in your search for a quality heating contractor.
- Ask for State License and Insurance Liability Information – All states require that mechanical contractors (HVAC) maintain an active certification license, attend annual code training and carry liability insurance. This is an absolute must! Don’t work with a contractor that is not licensed and bonded. You are well within your rights to ask a contractor for verification of these important documents.In Oregon check CCB license at http://search.ccb.state.or.us/search/ and In Washington check https://fortress.wa.gov.lni/bbip/
ABOUT THE APPOINTMENT
- Expect a Home Evaluation – The heating and cooling contractor should spend a significant time inspecting your current system and your home to assess your needs. They should also be asking a lot of questions about your heating and cooling needs. How many people live in the home? Will there be any changes? Do you have warm or cold spots? How important is energy savings? Do you care about things like extended warranties? You should feel like they are asking questions and getting a good understanding of your home and your needs. A good contractor should be checking your ducts (if applicable) to identify leaks and measure airflow. And remember, bigger is not always better so you want to make sure they properly size your equipment.
- Ask About Rebates & Incentives – Many gas furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioning units and ductless heat pump have rebates or incentives, either by the manufacturer or by the utility. Most utility companies offer a rebate for purchasing high efficiency equipment and often times the manufacturer may have a promotion on certain products. Ask your contractor to go over options with you.
- Make Sure You Get A Written Contract – When comparing heating and cooling contractor proposals, be sure to compare cost, energy efficiency and warranties, not just price. The lowest price may not be the best deal if it’s not the most efficient because your energy costs will be higher. Get a written proposal with contractor before work gets started. Specify project cost, model numbers, job schedule and warrant information.
ABOUT THE EQUIPMENT
- Make Sure You Purchase a Reputable Brand – Consider the brand of equipment that your heating and cooling contractor carries. What are the warranties? Is the product backed up with local support? Is there a distributor and local resources available to support the product?
- Consider Credentials – The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval has been granted to manufacturers who excel in heating and cooling equipment. Also check to see if Consumer Digest has acknowledged the equipment or manufacturer in any way.
AT THE INSTALLATION
- Your heating and cooling contractor should start up and test the equipment per the manufacturer’s specifications. All heating and cooling equipment has a start-up sheet from the manufacturer. Make sure your contractor provides a completed report of start-up and commissioning.
Following the above procedures will help you find the right HVAC contractor and give you peace of mind. Purchasing a heating and cooling system is one of the largest purchases you’ll make as a homeowner so you want to make sure you make good decisions along the way. If you have further questions, please use the “Ask An Expert” form on our website and we’ll be in touch to support your process.
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