How to Choose the Best HVAC Contractor in Your Area
Let’s face it, trying to find the right HVAC contractor can be confusing and, well, painful. So many contractors do so many different things and charge varying amounts, it’s hard to know who’s right for you. How do you find out their experience? Are they licensed? What’s their reputation? Can you trust them? Would you feel safe with them in your home?
We answer these questions and more on how you can choose the best HVAC professional in your area to fit your specific needs.
- Do Your Research: When you realize you need an HVAC professional, the first thing you can do is a simple search: HVAC contractors and your zip code or city where you live. Next, start a list of contractors and investigate them on the Better Business Bureau website.
- Ask For Referrals: Your family, friends, and neighbors may have had an experience with an HVAC professional at some point–ask their opinions, positive and negative, on who they used and gauge if their company would be a good fit for your HVAC needs.
- Read Reviews: The Better Business Bureau has recommendations, but with the invention of the internet, the BBB isn’t the only review site around. Enter your HVAC contractor’s name and company into any search engine and, unless they just opened, you’ll see a list of information regarding that contractor and/company. Read all those reviews. Other people’s experiences can help you decide whether or not this company can come into your home. Top sites to check are Angi (formerly Angie’s List), Facebook, Google Reviews, HomeAdvisor, Porch, and Yelp, to name a few.
- Call for References: Treat hiring an HVAC contractor, or any contractor really, like a job interview. This person(s) will be fixing an essential aspect of your home, and you don’t want just anybody to do it. Find out not just the quality of their work, but how they behaved–were they professional? Respectful? Courteous and sensitive to your needs? It’s not just about how quickly they fixed your HVAC, but about the white glove customer service treatment we all want in a professional that comes to our home.
- Verify Licenses and Experience: Most states require HVAC contractors and professionals to have a license. For example, in Kentucky, they must be licensed through the Department of Housing, Buildings, and Construction and complete at least two years as a valid Journeyman Mechanic license and worked directly with a Master HVAC contractor, as well as passing trade, business and law exams, and carry $500,000 in general liability insurance. Ask for the contractor or professional’s license number and check with the licensing department of that state to verify their credentials.
- Schedule a Home Evaluation: An HVAC contractor should spend quality time inspecting your home and your HVAC needs. Ask questions about rates for labor and parts. What kind of warranty do they provide? How extended is that warranty? Are there any rebates on the particular model they recommend? How energy efficient is this model? What’s its ENERGY STAR and SEER rating? Will this model require an electrical upgrade? If they’re a contractor from another town or county, do they charge travel time and mileage? Do they offer maintenance and upgrade plans? Ask all these questions so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
- Get It In Writing: No one likes sticker shock. So get the contractor’s responses in writing to avoid surprises when the job is complete. The written bid should be itemized and detail all labor costs, parts prices, equipment charges, plus warranty information and possible maintenance costs in the future.
- Sign It: Your HVAC contractor has given you a written estimate or proposal of the work. Sign off on that to cement what they’ve said, and you’ve accepted BEFORE the work starts. Both signatures protect you by detailing and specifying product numbers and surprise costs.
Finding the right HVAC contractor is more than just calling the first number in the Yellow Pages under the heating and cooling listing. You want to make sure your hire is professional, licensed, safe, and customer service-oriented. By following our list of suggestions, you’ll find the right one for your home and HVAC needs.