Your HVAC system is like your car. Your car needs routine maintenance to keep it running well through the years. Your heating and air conditioning system needs routine maintenance to keep it running through the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter.
You also need a qualified HVAC contractor if you are installing a new central heating or air conditioning system. Central HVAC installs are generally out of the realm of do-it-yourself projects for the average person.
So you go online and your soon find two dozen contractors that service and install air conditioners and heating systems.
How do you find the right HVAC tech for your job?
Generally speaking, every state will have specific requirements regarding licensing for HVAC Technicians and Contractors. For instance, in California, if you service, install, and/or repair air conditioning and heating systems you have to be licensed with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).
Make sure that an HVAC technician is properly licensed by your state and meets all the basic requirements for doing business in your state. For instance, most states in the U.S. will require an AC and Heating Company to be licensed and bonded.
Ask for Referrals and References
In the age of Yelp reviews, people tend to forget about the good ole fashioned referral, but referrals are one of the strongest ways to find a good service company. Chances are your neighbors, your co-workers, and your family all have Central AC and Central Heating Systems. And all of them have used an air conditioning and heating technician to repair or service their system.
So ask them for a referral.
When you are calling prospective air conditioning and heating companies, be sure to ask for references. Asking for references is standard operating practice when dealing with any type of service company. That goes for construction, plumbing, or HVAC.
If a company does not want to, or cannot provide references? Don’t use them.
If a company gives you references? Make sure you call them. Sounds obvious but many people ask for references and then fail to follow up to make sure those references are valid.
Get Estimates in Writing
For larger jobs, like a major heating system overhaul or new air conditioner install be sure to get a couple estimates from a couple different companies.
The general rule says, Get 3 Estimates. For major jobs you may want to get more than three. Make sure every estimate is written and itemized. If a company gives you an estimate for a central air conditioner installation and it consists of a single item “AC Install” and a flat rate with no accounting for labor time, parts, etc then you probably don’t want to deal with them.
What if you just need a routine AC and heating maintenance? An in person estimate may be a bit extreme. Referrals, homework, and phone estimates may suffice. But you’ll still want to get any service agreements in writing.
Most HVAC companies offer yearly service plans or service contracts where a technician will come out twice a year to service your air conditioner and heating system (i.e. furnace) for a flat fee. Those fees usually range from $50 to $100 a year.
Don’t Be Swayed By Brand Names
Air Conditioner and furnace makers put a lot of money and time into marketing. Marketing that is largely designed to give you the impression that Furnace Y is better than Furnace X. The truth of the matter is that brand name matters a lot less when it comes to HVAC.
What makes a difference? The competency and experience of your HVAC company and their technicians.