The HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system is the heart and lungs of your home. It’s one of those things that separate the modern home from those of our ancestors. But the HVAC system isn’t worth much without a qualified HVAC contractor to install, maintain and repair it and therein lies the rub. Because not all HVAC companies are created equal. Some are run by highly trained professionals who go the extra mile for their customers while others are run by guys who heard they could make a few bucks fixing furnaces. How do you do tell which is which? By asking questions.
Find a Qualified HVAC Contractor Using the Q&A Method
Few things are as important to the residents of Rapid City, SD as their HVAC systems. Everyone knows how brutal the winters can get around these parts and without an efficient, effective heating system it would be a long, cold winter indeed. In order to make sure you find the right HVAC tech to keep your system running efficiently and effectively start by asking the following questions.
- How long have you been in business? - This is an easy way to get an idea about the abilities of the contractor and the quality of their work. If they’ve been around for years they must be doing something right. Sure, it’s not an ironclad guarantee of quality, but it’s pretty good indicator that this is one contractor who is worth serious consideration.
- Are you fully insured? - If a contractor does not have liability insurance and their workers are not covered by workmen’s comp it’s you who will be on the financial hook if someone gets hurt or causes damage to your home. This is not a negotiable item. They either have both types of coverage or you should look for someone else.
- Do you have references? - Another non-negotiable item. Of course no contractor is going to refer you to someone they had problems with but every decent contractor should have a much higher percentage of satisfied customers and be willing to refer you to some of them. If they won’t you have to ask why and take a pass.
- Will you provide a written estimate? - While accepting a verbal estimate may seem like a good way to build trust with your friendly Piedmont, SD HVAC professional it’s not. It benefits no one but the contractor. If there is a problem you will find out in short order how much that verbal agreement is worth. Make sure the HVAC contractor is willing to provide a written estimate.
- Who will be the onsite project manager? - Often times the person you talk to in the lead up to signing the contract is not the person who winds up running the job. If this is the case with your prospective contractor, and you are concerned about someone you’ve never met handling the HVAC work on your home, ask to meet the on-site project manager before signing the contract.
- Who will be handling the permits? - An experienced HVAC pro will have no problem obtaining any permits for the project just as a matter of good customer service. If they kick the responsibility back to you you have to wonder where their priorities lie.
- How much of a down payment do you require? - If you are hiring an HVAC contractor for a large project like installing a furnace or installing or repairing ducts etc they may ask for a down payment. This is normal. However, that down payment should not be more than 10 to 25% of the total agreed upon cost of the project. If they want 50% or more up front it should be a red flag and you should take a pass.
- Will you be performing an energy analysis? - This is important if you are having a new furnace installed. Many HVAC contractors just replace what you have with a similar furnace. But this could be a mistake. Perhaps your furnace failed because it was being asked to overperform. Or maybe the requirements of the home have changed since you had the old furnace installed because you changed to double glazed windows and insulated doors. It’s always a good idea to analyze the energy needs of the home before installing a new furnace.
- Will you inspect the ductwork? - This is another important service that should be performed before a new furnace is installed. If the ducts are in poor shape and leaky the best, most efficient furnace on earth won’t do you much good or produce much by way of energy savings. So the ducts should always be inspected prior to furnace installation in order to insure it can perform to its capabilities.
- Will you install a programmable thermostat? - In these days of increased energy awareness it just doesn’t make sense to install an old fashioned thermostat that has to be constantly adjusted by hand. Instead make sure a programmable thermostat is installed along with your new furnace. It will save you time, trouble and a boatload of money in the long run.
- Will you commit to a completion date? - While many types of HVAC work can be completed in a single day some are more involved. As such you’ll want the contractor to agree to a completion date and put that date in the contract with penalties should the work extend beyond that date.
- Do you guarantee your work? - Any parts the HVAC technician installs should have their own warranties but the contractor should also be willing to guarantee their workmanship. And for more than just 30 or 60 days. If they are unwilling to commit to guaranteeing their work you have to wonder why and should take a pass.
Whether you live in Piedmont, SD or Rapid City, SD or anywhere else in the Mount Rushmore State you know the importance of having an efficient, reliable furnace humming away in the basement. Make sure to ask the above questions before committing to an HVAC contractor and you’ll sleep well at night.