Choosing the Best HVAC Contractor

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Most heat pump systems have a 10-year warranty. Is your HVAC system 10 years old or more? If so, you may be looking at replacement in the next couple of years. If your HVAC system is newer, you want to ensure that it keeps running well by scheduling at least annual maintenance. Whichever the case may be, sooner or later you will need to hire an HVAC professional. Here are five things to consider during your search.

1. Licensing and Experience

Your HVAC system is probably the most expensive equipment in your home, and you want assurance that whoever works on it has appropriate training. North Carolina requires proper licensing for contractors in the HVAC industry. The first step is to make sure the heating and air contractor is licensed in the State of North Carolina. Customers should ask for the contractor’s license number before service is performed. This license can be quickly verified online at the State Board of Examiners Plumbing, Heating, and Fire Sprinkler Contractors website at http://nclicensing.org. In addition to the North Carolina license, a company should be able to hold a minimal level of insurance. Insurance is to protect homeowners in case of injury or accidental damage.

You should also ask about a prospective contractor’s experience. While longevity alone will not guarantee that a contractor will do a good job, stability in the business indicates a contractor is doing something right. Go online and look for customer reviews and ratings.

Technician training may encompass many facets of the industry, but among the most important are the handling of refrigerant and air balancing. Are the company’s technicians certified to handle refrigerant? Under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act, individuals not properly certified should not be handling refrigerant. This is of importance as the switch from R-22 refrigerant to R-410A progresses. Today’s technicians should also be trained to test and balance installations for maximum efficiency and comfort.

Further, ask if the contractor carries top brands, and about technicians’ training with these brands: each system and manufacturer is unique, and a quality consultant will ensure that technicians have had the right training to optimize installations. This purchase is an investment, keep in mind cheaper is not better.

2. Home Evaluation

If you are looking to have an HVAC system installed, potential contractors should offer a thorough home evaluation to determine the best heating and cooling solution. Factors to be taken into consideration are square footage of the home, R-value of insulation, how many windows there are and which way they face. Contractors should inspect the duct system for leaks, loose segments, and insulation. The sizing of a new system should not be done based on square footage alone, but rather on calculations determined by data fed into industry software known as Manuals J (for cooling and heating loads), S (to determine size of equipment) and D (for ductwork).

Once you have an evaluation, the prospective contractor should give you a written, itemized estimate so you can compare costs, warranties, and energy efficiency among the proposals. Do not go by low price alone. In our climate, for instance, a better quality, more efficient heat pump may offset a bigger price tag by using less electricity over time.

3. References and Referrals

Ask for references and referrals and call them up. Ask if jobs were completed on time and within the budget. Ask if the company performed clean installations and respected the homeowner’s property. Did the company test the system after it was installed to ensure maximum efficiency? Run potential contractors past the Better Business Bureau to see what kind of complaints are registered. You can also go online and check complaints or ratings.

A good HVAC consultant will also show pride in his or her company: trucks should be in good repair and the company name emblazoned on vehicles.

4. Rebates and Special Offers

An HVAC system is a major expense, so shop around for rebates on energy-efficient equipment or ask your dealer about specials. North Carolina utility companies offer some rebates for installing efficient equipment.

5. Efficiency

Efficiency is important. When shopping for an upgrade, you want the most efficient equipment you can afford. Ask the contractor about Energy Star-rated models. Energy Star is the government’s program for rigorously testing HVAC equipment for efficiency. To learn more about choosing an HVAC contractor, contact All Weather Mechanical, Inc. We have provided residential HVAC comfort solutions for our customers for over 20 years and take pride in our equipment, installation, and service practices. We also offer affordable biannual preventative maintenance service agreements to keep your HVAC operating at peak performance for longevity and efficiency.

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