How to Choose an HVAC Contractor

In order to enjoy a comfortable home, your HVAC system must be in proper working condition. But things can go wrong, making it necessary to call in a professional contractor.

Choosing a contractor can be difficult. Not everyone who works on HVAC systems is fully trained and/or certified to do so. In order to find the right company to work on your home’s HVAC system, pursue the following steps:

Research: A quick Internet search can reveal the license and insurance requirements for contractors in Long Island.

Gather your materials: Before calling a contractor, find the model number on your system and any maintenance records. Also note any problem rooms where you are not getting the heating and/or cooling you need. This information can help the contractor pinpoint potential problems before they arrive.

Ask for referrals: HVAC system problems are commonplace, so ask your friends, neighbors and families whom they use. Failing that, local trade organizations will also have names and numbers of contractors.

Get references: When you meet with your contractor, ask for references. Call them and ask about their level of satisfaction with the contractor’s performance in installation or maintenance and whether or not the job was completed on time and within the quoted budget.

Go green: Contractors should be knowledgeable energy-saving products, like Energy-Star qualifying products that offer substantial savings over the long term. These products may also qualify for government rebates, which can be found on the official Energy Star website. A knowledgeable contractor will be able to help you calculate Energy Star energy savings and find the heating and cooling system that best suits your needs and budget.

Spend time: A good contractor will thoroughly inspect the home and existing HVAC system, as well as check the air ducts for leaks and measure air flow. A bigger system isn’t always better, and a good contractor knows how to assess the best system for your home.

Consider their expertise: Although you may have spent a lot of time researching HVAC systems, an expert contractor ultimately knows what is best and may take into consideration factors that you have overlooked. Listen to their suggestions with an open mind when discussing your heating and cooling needs.

Get it in writing: A good estimate will not only include the final cost, but a detailed and itemized explanation as well. Before work begins, be sure to sign a written proposal with all final costs as well as specifying project costs, model numbers, job schedule, and warranty information.

Don’t skimp: You get what you pay for and a qualified firm will cost a little more because their contractors are higher-quality and continuously training in new techniques and industry improvements. Make sure that your contractor is NATE-certified (North American Technician Excellence) and that the firm is a member of industry associations.

T.F. O’Brien services the Long Island, New York area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about preventive maintenance and other HVAC topics, please download our free  Home Comfort Resource guide.

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