Updated August 2023
A properly functioning HVAC system can reduce your utility costs and keep you comfortable. That’s why you should schedule a tune-up if your heater or AC isn’t operating at its optimum level. However, hiring the right technician to service your HVAC system isn’t straightforward. With numerous contractors to choose from, it can be a difficult task. To help you make an informed decision, here’s a list of several questions to ask prospective HVAC contractors.
1. How Long Have You Been in Business?
HVAC systems are complicated. That’s why you should hire experienced contractors. Experienced contractors are more likely to have serviced numerous systems similar to yours. Often, they are also more adept at handling complex issues that may arise during servicing compared to inexperienced contractors. However, experience doesn’t always guarantee quality service. Asking contractors about their experience is an excellent way to gauge their expertise.
2. What Services and Systems Do You Offer?
Most HVAC contractors offer services like installation, repair, maintenance, and replacement. In addition to these basic services, some contractors also offer specialized services like indoor air quality inspections and energy efficiency solutions.
Before hiring a contractor, carefully consider your needs and choose one that fulfills all of them. Hiring a contractor that offers various HVAC services can help you get comprehensive service and prevent you from dealing with numerous contractors.
Additionally, inquire about the HVAC systems the contractor offers. The best contractors usually stay abreast of industry trends, and they’re knowledgeable on emerging HVAC technologies. As a result, they’re more likely to recommend modern systems that can significantly lower your utility costs and enhance your comfort.
3. Can I See Your HVAC Contractor’s License and Certifications?
In California, the law requires all HVAC contractors to be licensed to offer HVAC services. They are regulated by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). Similar requirements can be found in each state.
However, a license isn’t just a legal requirement — it’s also another way to prove a contractor’s competence for several reasons.
First, licenses are only issued to contractors with at least four years of journeyman-level experience or contractors who have completed an HVAC training program. Additionally, they’re only issued to contractors who have passed the licensing exam. Thus, when vetting a prospective HVAC contractor, be sure to request a copy of their license.
Besides licenses, also inquire about certifications. Certifications like the Pearl, NATE, BPI, and EPA certifications prove that the technician is trained and qualified to offer specialized services.
4. Can I See Your Reviews and References?
Reliable contractors will be more than glad to refer you to past clients satisfied with their services. If the contractor is reluctant to provide references, it could be a potential red flag.
In addition to references, check out the contractor’s online reviews. The contractor’s website is usually a good place to start. However, it’s also important to check out third-party reviews on other websites not affiliated with the contractor. You can check out third-party reviews by typing the contractor’s name on a search engine like Google and scanning the search results for reviews. Unlike reviews on the contractor’s website, third-party reviews are less biased because the contractor doesn’t screen them.
When reading reviews, pay close attention to lengthy reviews about the contractor’s process and how the contractor helped customers save time and money. Such reviews can provide you with invaluable insights and help you identify a suitable contractor.
5. What’s the Problem With My Current HVAC System?
When describing the issues with your HVAC system, a reliable contractor will first keenly listen to you. After you’re done describing your issue, the contractor may ask you more questions to try and get to the root of the problem. A reliable contractor may even go a step further and offer you basic HVAC troubleshooting tips.
Generally, a dependable contractor won’t jump to conclusions. The contractor will take time to understand the problem with your HVAC system before proposing a course of action. Consider it an ominous sign if the contractor proposes a new HVAC system before even inspecting your current unit.
However, in some circumstances, a new HVAC system may be required. If a new HVAC system is needed, you’ll want to retain your home’s setup. Using the duct system already in place will save you time and money. A reliable HVAC contractor won’t recommend doing away with the existing system before inspecting it. Instead, the contractor will inspect your existing duct system and advise whether it will work well with the new system.
6. What’s Included and Excluded in the Quote?
When you hire an HVAC contractor, you want to get value for your money. A project quote can help you determine whether you’ll get a good deal.
When you request a quote, a reliable HVAC contractor should be transparent when listing the services included and excluded. Once you describe your issue, the contractor should let you know all the costs you’ll incur for the service. Costs for things like labor and parts should be listed. Additionally, the contractor should provide you with warranty information.
Ideally, you should get a quote in writing. A written quote will help you track expenses, hold the contractor accountable and prevent you from incurring any additional costs down the road.
7. Do You Offer a Maintenance Service Plan?
HVAC systems require regular maintenance. As a rule of thumb, they should be serviced at least once a year. Maintenance service plans are an excellent way to keep your HVAC system in tip-top shape and save time and money.
Before you hire an HVAC contractor, ask if they offer a maintenance plan. Also, consider asking what the maintenance involves and if it’s customizable. While what’s performed during maintenance varies from contractor to contractor, maintenance visits typically involve.
- Lubricating all moving parts
- Inspecting thermostat settings
- Tightening all loose connections
- Examining the condensate drain
- Checking system controls
- Checking refrigerant levels
- Cleaning and adjusting blower components
- Cleaning evaporator and condenser coils
Overall, signing up for a maintenance plan can extend the lifespan of your HVAC system and save you money on costly repairs and replacements.
Hire a Reliable HVAC Contractor by Asking the Right Questions
HVAC systems are complex. While you can handle some HVAC problems on your own, you’ll need to hire a contractor to help you tackle various HVAC issues.
Before you hire a contractor, ask prospective HVAC contractors the questions above. Asking them will help you pick a reliable contractor that will offer you value for money and save you time.
Besides asking the questions above, you should also look for an HVAC contractor that offers round-the-clock service. Hiring a contractor that’s available day and night can give you peace of mind that your HVAC issues will be handled promptly no matter when they arise.
At Environmental Heating & Air Solutions, we’ve been providing heating and cooling services to residents of Northern California for over a decade. We provide installation, repair, maintenance, and replacement services.
Environmental Heating & Air Solutions also offers indoor air quality evaluations and water quality solutions. In addition to this, we offer plumbing services, including water heater installation, replacement, and water purification solutions. We also offer energy efficiency solutions, including insulation, score testing, home automation, and air sealing services. If you require any of these services, contact us today. Our team of qualified HVAC and plumbing professionals will be glad to answer all your questions and help you address any problems you have with your HVAC system.