With the weather heating up, local HVAC contractors’ phones are ringing off the hook. But many times during the throes of desperation, i.e. “My house feels hotter than an oven sitting in the middle of the desert”, people call the first A/C company that pops up on an internet search.
In many cases, this isn’t a bad thing. There are plenty of reputable companies that do a good job. But you still need to be careful on who you call. A small repair job could turn into an unnecessarily large expense if a shady contractor tries to sweet talk you into a purchase you don’t need or has an exaggerated price.
Follow these steps to make sure you and your wallet stay protected from scams and shady businesses:
1) Do Your Research
This might be the most obvious one but taking the time do research on the company you might be working with could save you thousands down the road. First, check the company’s reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, and BBB. Try to expand your search to include as many reputable review sites as possible to get a full picture into the company.
Also ask your friends or other family members on who they call for AC problems. If an HVAC contractor has a history of doing good work, then it should be a safe bet.
Remember to check certifications. A good HVAC contractor will have the right licenses, and will be bonded and insured. Don’t be afraid to ask if the team has been properly background checked. You want to know who is coming into your home!
2) Getting it in Writing
If your A/C needs a minor repair or you’re just having an A/C tune up before summer, the cost shouldn’t be too outrageous. But still get the price down in writing. This is especially important when it comes to large repairs or total A/C or furnace replacement. Angie’s List recommends getting at least three written estimates.
Cost should be a factor in your decision, but don’t let it be the only reason why you choose one company over another. Your written estimate should include a detailed breakdown into what is being fixed or replacement with the corresponding cost of each line item. You should be suspicious of a large price tag with no info on what the project clearly includes.
One thing to remember, the cheapest bid isn’t always the best. There are times where it is, but there is a reason why a true HVAC contractor might charge more than a “chuck in a truck”. Spending a little extra can give you peace of mind that the job was done right.
3) Ask the Right Questions
You don’t need to be an HVAC trade school graduate, but knowing the right questions to ask before the job starts can save you headache down the road.
Check what brand A/C or furnace system your contractor carries. If you’re getting repairs done, ask about what kind of experience your tech has with your system. HVAC systems can vary greatly from brand to brand so don’t assume your company will have a good handle on things without asking.
Ask about what kind of warranties you’re getting. HVAC warranties run from 1 to 5 years. But HVAC brands like YORK® provided extended 10 year warranties which are some of the best in the industry.
If you’re having a major job done, ask about rebates or incentives towards your new equipment. Your utility or natural gas provider may be able to help you towards your costs. Programs like the Ameren IL Income Qualified Program are designed to help homeowners get high efficiency furnaces or air conditioners as well as insulation.
Whether your HVAC project is a repair or you need a full HVAC system replacement, be sure to
- Do your research
- Get it in writing
- Ask the right questions
By following these simple steps, you should get a quality job for your home.