How to choose a residential HVAC contractor: 8 factors to keep in mind
Heating, ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) is one of the most important elements that you should consider having and maintaining in your house in order to retain a comfortable environment. To regulate ventilation and air-conditioning in houses, engineers have developed various HVAC equipment and systems. Such equipment, once installed, is designed to automatically regulate the internal temperatures, thereby maintaining a suitable climate inside the house.
Regularly, however, these HVAC systems need maintenance, repair, or replacement altogether. The process of repairing HVAC equipment is pretty complex so you should not attempt to do it yourself. In case of a breakdown or a maintenance issue, you need to have a qualified HVAC contractor to ensure the equipment is properly repaired and certified. When hiring such a residential HVAC contractor, you may want to exercise due caution to ensure you only hire qualified and well-trained individuals who would do a thorough job. Here are eight important factors that you should keep in mind when looking for a residential HVAC contractor to handle repairs in your home or office.
Licensing and Certification HVAC Contractor
Conducting repairs on residential HVAC equipment and systems requires an individual to be licensed and certified accordingly. Different states in the US require HVAC engineers and repair technicians to be certified. The certification comes as a result of rigorous training on the concept of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning mechanisms, as well as how to handle any equipment breakdowns.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, technicians handling HVAC systems should be licensed and certified on the broad scope of work that is required of them to undertake. There are different agencies that you can check with to validate the certification of a given HVAC contractor or technician, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA requires that all technicians handling refrigeration equipment be appropriately certified by the agency. The EPA runs 2 types of certifications including the “608” and “609” certifications. The 608 HVAC technician certification certifies individuals who handle HVAC equipment installed in commercial and residential buildings while the 609 certification certifies technicians who deal with HVAC systems installed in automobiles.
You can verify the certification and licensing of HVAC technicians by requesting to see their HVAC certificate which contains a certification number. To validate the certification, you can visit any state department of labor within any state in the US and present the number to the authorities for verification.
Experience and Competence
To be able to deliver quality repair work on your home HVAC systems, a technician should be well experienced and competent to handle the scope of the work required. When looking for an HVAC contractor, the most common search parameter is a “qualified residential HVAC contractor near me”. We recommend going with a company that has a good reputation and good reviews.
When determining the expertise and experience levels of an HVAC contractor, some of the things you can focus on include requesting referrals from past clients that had used them before. But keep in mind the company will normally only provide referrals from past customers that were satisfied with their work.
In addition to word of mouth referrals, you can also check on various internet sites, such as the contractor’s social media pages, where past clients get an opportunity to comment and rate the quality of work that the company had performed before. A competent contractor will certainly have mostly positive reviews from past customers, which is an indication that they will do an equally good job on your HVAC repair needs.
Ability to Deliver on The Scope of Work
Another factor you should check on is the ability of the HVAC expert to deliver on the individual scope of work in question. In making this evaluation, you should allow the contractor or technician to conduct an assessment of the HVAC equipment that needs to be repaired, which will give him/her an opportunity to provide a detailed explanation of the nature of the problem and what has to be done to remedy it.
Undertaking HVAC repair work can sometimes be dangerous. The various risks that contractors face include the risk of physical injury, electrocution, or even exposure to toxic materials such as liquid refrigerants. A qualified HVAC repair expert should be appropriately insured against such injuries. To validate whether a technician is insured or not, you should endeavor to confirm from them by asking to see the certificate of insurance, and possibly even verifying with the insurer on whether the insurance coverage is valid.
This is a necessary step as it ensures that you are well protected against instances where you suffer unforeseen losses. Some labor laws in certain states, for instance, require injuries upon workers working in a home site be covered by the owner of the building in case the workers are not individually insured.
Cost of Labor
The cost of labor is one of the most important considerations that you should endeavor to check. Sometimes, an HVAC contractor may be competent to handle all the necessary repair work but charges a very high amount for the labor that’s involved. In such a case, the cost of labor will certainly put you off. It is therefore important to get a quotation with a written estimate for the total cost of the HVAC repair work. The assessment should thereby give you a benchmark on whether to proceed and hire the contractor’s services or not. If the total cost seems too high, you should get an estimate from another contractor. If the estimated costs are fairly close to one another, it usually indicates a reasonable amount for the work to be performed. If there is a significant difference, we recommend a third estimate to determine which is the more accurate estimate. Having a rough idea of the market prices ensures that you are not being overcharged for the repair work.
HVAC technicians, contractors, and experts usually take into consideration various issues when estimating the labor cost, such as the accessibility to the HVAC system and the possibility of needing more than one technician to do the job. Taking note of these factors ensures that you make relative sense of the amount of money the contractor would charge you for the repair work.
Brands That the Contractor Works With
Most HVAC contractors and technicians are experienced and competent enough to work on any installed brand of HVAC equipment. The HVAC service companies usually require their technicians to have good knowledge of the most common brands of HVAC systems and equipment, either from past experience or training the company provides. There are some not-so-popular brands of equipment, however, that are infrequently worked on by many HVAC technicians and contractors. So, when hiring a contractor or independent technician to work on your equipment, it pays to inquire as to experience and competency to deal with your particular brand. Hiring someone who is not experienced with your brand of HVAC system may lead to unsatisfactory work or even further damage to the HVAC system.
If your system needs replacing, most contractors normally handle one major brand. Unless it’s the same brand that you currently have, make sure a second estimate that’s based on a different brand is based on the exact same specs and features.
Duration of The Repair Work
A malfunctioning HVAC system in your home can cause major inconveniences, thereby requiring immediate attention by a technician. Sometimes, however, contractors may be too busy to immediately address your HVAC repair work, thereby prompting possible delays until a time when a technician will be available. This is often the case when there are extreme weather conditions. Such a situation may delay being able to get a quick response to your request for a technician to evaluate your problem. Even if you do get a quick response, if parts are needed to repair your equipment additional delays may result. And keep in mind some contractors are not available on weekends, and some that are might charge an additional fee just to evaluate your problem.
Workforce, Parts and Accessories
HVAC repair work can sometimes be quite labor intensive – demanding more than one technician to handle the job properly and in a timely manner. So knowing whether the contractor is a single person operation or has additional qualified technicians working for the contractor can be a significant issue. Does he have a physical office? Does he maintain adequate parts and accessories inventory? And, what if your system needs to be replaced; does he have replacement units on hand or does he have to get one from a supplier? Is the supplier local or does he have to wait for a part or unit to be shipped or delivered? In most cases, you can answer these questions just by going to the contractor’s web site or Facebook page. Unless you know for sure that your problem is a minor one, and you know the technician personally, it’s usually wise to stay away from a one-man operation.
In conclusion, hiring competent HVAC repair contractors and repair experts is not an overly complicated process. Due diligence, however, should be exercised to ensure that the contractor you settle for to handle your repair needs is well qualified. The professional qualifications of the workers ensure that they deliver with expertise on the entire process of HVAC equipment repairs and installations. General professionalism in the areas to do with repair of damaged HVAC systems should also be assessed in terms of how the contractor has handled previous customers. Contractors having a market reputation of doing poor repair work or even dragging the repair process should be avoided as they are bound to equally serve you poorly. The exercise of such due diligence goes a long way to saving you much time, money, and effort while preventing inconveniences that may arise as a result of hiring the wrong HVAC repair contractor or mechanic.
At LegendAir Heating and Cooling, we are licensed and insured, and offer full-service installation, repair, maintenance, and emergency services for residential and commercial clients in Philadelphia, Bucks County, Montgomery County, and the surrounding areas. If you have a home or business in need of a new air conditioning and heating system or would like maintenance or service on your existing system, please contact LegendAir today.