How do I find a good HVAC pro?

Ask these questions to help find the right HVAC contractor.

Installing a Heating, Venting and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system shouldn't force you to hold your breath. Spend time finding the right contractor and breathe easy.

The hiring process

1. Contact several HVAC contractors for estimates.
  • Expect NO charge for an installation estimate.
  • Get a written estimate from each contractor detailing the type of work, unit and the extras that are needed, including any specific requests for specialty items like tankless water heaters or ENERGY STAR appliances.
  • If bids are drastically different, ask why.

2. Do they represent a single brand?
  • The upside suggests the contractor received specialized training offered by the manufacturer.
  • The downside suggests they might not be able to offer you the best unit available for your home.

3. How long have they been in business?
  • The more experienced, the better.
  • Is the business solidly in the community?
  • Do they work full or part time?

4. What are their qualifications?
  • They should possess a good knowledge of motor controls, trouble shooting and basic PLC.
  • They should be able to evaluate system efficiencies and adjust air distribution systems for propane balance and insure safety and security in working areas.
  • They should know system codes and OSHA standards.

5. Are they licensed?
  • Standards vary state-to-state. Check online for what's required in your area.
  • Ask to see any certificates.

6. What type of insurance coverage do they carry?
  • Most carry personal liability, worker's comp and property damage coverage.

7. To which organizations do they belong?
  • This is an indication that the contractor is engaged in improving his skills and keeping up with industry updates.
  • Most organizations check a contractor's background and references.

8. May I have some references? Examples of your work?
  • Call those references for feedback.

9. Will they pull all required building permits?
  • This ensures the work will be up to code.

10. Do they guarantee your work?
  • Work should be guaranteed for at least a year.

11. Will they or subcontractors being doing the job?
  • Know who's doing the work.

12. How much of your business is repeat or referral?
  • Repeat business is high praise for previous work.

13. What's their cleanup strategy?
  • Do they leave a clean workplace?

After hiring

  • How long will they be there?

  • Will they go over the instructions with you when they are done?

  • Will they explain how to run the thermostat and how to change the filters?

  • Is the breaker marked?

  • How often will you need to service the system?
When the job's done

  • Walk through the system with the questions above.

  • Review the final paperwork as it may include information about the unit warranty and limitations, a statement that the work was done and that the unit is working properly.

  • Ask if they have a Service Agreement program. Not only may it save you money on maintenace but also make you a priority customer.

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