Choosing an HVAC contractor can be a daunting task for many homeowners. In larger cities and metro areas like Philadelphia, there are hundreds of companies to choose from which can be extremely overwhelming. So how do you start to identify, compare, evaluate and then hire a credible HVAC company? Here are a few things to consider that will get you started:
Look for Positive Reviews & Referrals
One of the best ways to find a reputable HVAC company is by asking your friends, family, and neighbors for referrals. Getting a referral from someone who has first-hand experience is one of the best ways to learn about a company’s customer service.
You should also check reviews on platforms like Facebook, Google, and Angie’s List. We suggest these platforms specifically because they do not filter their reviews. You can see all of the company’s reviews, good and bad, making it a reliable source to find honest feedback from real customers.
When reading reviews, look for important factors like timeliness, customer service, responsiveness, honesty, cost, and cleanliness. If the company consistently gets positive feedback in most of these categories, it is probably safe to put them on your list to consider.
Are Their Technicians Certified & Licensed?
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to claim to be heating and cooling experts when they have no formal education, certifications or licenses. You certainly don’t want a couple of handymen with a truck that you found on Craigslist handling one of the most expensive pieces of equipment in your house.
You should always ensure that you are hiring a contractor who has the appropriate license. Not only will this affect the quality of work, but you also need to consider safety. HVAC contractors often have to manipulate gas lines, as well as plumbing and electrical lines, and only a certified professional should be handling these types of situations. If the contractor cannot provide you proof that their workers have the proper license, then you should be extremely wary of hiring them. If they are a legitimate company, proving they have the proper licenses won’t be an issue.
Do They Have the Proper Insurance?
Like it or not, accidents happen. Any type of work that goes on in your home has the potential to cause damage, no matter how careful you are. That’s why it’s imperative to make sure that your HVAC service provider is properly insured so that you’re prepared even for the worst-case scenario. Similarly to licensing and certification, any legitimate company will not hesitate to provide proof that they are properly insured.
Do They Thoroughly Assess Needs Before Giving an Estimate?
Beware of contractors who offer to give you a final estimate over the phone without ever stepping foot inside your home. No two HVAC systems are alike, and it is very difficult to understand the complexities, even for an experienced professional, without analyzing the system in person. There are many factors that a trained HVAC professional should inspect before giving you a final estimate, including a full survey of the current system in your home.
It is not uncommon for a contractor to over-promise in an effort to “get the sale.” Exploring the installation or replacement of a heating and cooling system is about finding the right solution at a preferred budget. A contractor should be a trusted advisor, asking the right questions in order to provide a proper solution. Often a contractor will suggest the most expensive system in an effort to increase the sale price. Rarely will the equipment, no matter the bells and whistles, solve all the deficiencies of an aging HVAC system.
It is ok for companies to offer an estimate for the type of service you are looking for over the phone, but they should never give you a final, written contract before actually coming to your house to assess your heating and cooling needs.
You Get What You Pay For
If the pricing seems too good to be true, then it probably is. It’s always tempting to go with the lowest bidder, but while you may be saving money in the short term, there are often other considerations when it comes to value and efficiency in the long run.
Remember that the maintenance costs for your system are only a small portion of your overall heating and cooling costs. Proactive maintenance of your system can pay huge dividends when it comes to monthly energy costs and extending the life of your HVAC system. It’s often better to bite the bullet and spend a little more for AC service and maintain your system correctly, despite the initial urge to go with the lowest bidder who says that you can push off a repair for another season.
Experience is Important, but Not Everything
When comparing HVAC companies, look for a provider that has an established reputation, but is also up to date with the latest technologies in the heating and cooling industry. Technology is constantly changing the world around us, including the heating and cooling industry.
Often times, these new technologies can make your heating and cooling system more efficient, therefore saving you money on your electricity bill. Be wary of companies who are stuck in their ways and have “been doing it this way for years.” You should look for a company with a balance of established experience, that is also staying up to date with the latest updates in HVAC.
Clear Communication is Critical
There are a lot of decisions to be made when working with the HVAC system in your home, and a lot of moving parts in the process of installing and maintaining it properly. With so much to consider, clear lines of communication are critical to ensuring a successful relationship with HVAC professionals.
The first touchpoint you have with a company is often a very telling indication of how the rest of the relationship will go. Did they respond to your initial inquiry in a timely and helpful manner? Did they take the time to listen to your concerns and understand your situation before jumping into a proposal? Were they able to clearly and effectively communicate to you about the next steps with your project? These are all key indicators of how organized and customer-focused they will be throughout the process.