Ask about licensing, liability insurance and bonding, before hiring an HVAC service provider.
The heating and cooling system is one of the most complicated systems found in a home. It’s essential that the HVAC service provider you hire is well-trained to deal with the inherent safety issues in heating systems — electricity, natural gas, oil — or cooling units that use toxic refrigerants such as Freon.
An HVAC contractor will play a crucial role in your home’s comfort, air quality and safety. Consider these steps when making your hiring decision.
Different states have different requirements for issuing licenses for HVAC contractors. Most require that the applicant have a minimum amount of on-the-job or training experience — normally 2 to 5 years — working with HVAC systems.
That experience is critical since an HVAC contractor will likely need to have a competent understanding of how things like electrical wiring, refrigerant, combustion systems, and airflow through heating ducts all work together.
Not only is comfort important, but safety is critical – knowing the proper operation of home ventilation and exhaust systems when working with a furnace can be the key to prevent death or injury from events like carbon monoxide poisoning.
State governments offer license look-up websites where you can check the status of a HVAC contractor’s license. It’s also often the case that individual cities and municipalities have their own specific requirements for HVAC contractors.
Since heating and cooling work may also require repairing or installing plumbing to supply oil or natural gas to heating equipment, an HVAC contractor may also be required to hold a separate plumber’s license or have a licensed plumber on call.
When interviewing candidates, don’t forget to ask about:
Licensed, bonded and insured: Many states and municipalities mandate that heating and cooling contractors meet minimum education and on-the-job experience requirements, as well as pass written exams in order to be licensed to work in the heating and cooling industry.
In order to qualify for and continue to hold that license, HVAC companies frequently need to hold a minimum level of insurance and bonding. Any professional that works in your home should carry liability insurance to protect the homeowner in the case of accidental damage or injury.
References: A professional heating and air conditioning company should have a list of recent customers that you can refer to in order to verify that the company in question performed the work in a timely manner and to the customer’s satisfaction. It’s important to actually call those references to get relevant details about how their projects fared.
Service contracts: If you’re hiring a company for maintenance or having new equipment installed, enrolling in a service company’s service contract program may give you added peace of mind. Service contracts are just that, a contract that ensures your HVAC system is serviced regularly by the company.
Estimates: Due to the high cost of repairing, replacing or installing new HVAC equipment, it’s essential to get at least three written estimates from three different companies.
Brands carried: When seeking estimates for new or replacement heating or cooling equipment be sure to ask prospective companies what specific manufacturers or equipment brands they carry.
Experience with your system: If your heating or cooling systems features cutting-edge energy-efficiency design, such as a geothermal system, or relies on an old-school operating system, such as steam-driven radiators, make sure the company you choose has relevant experience with your particular system.