Choosing the Best Service: What Homeowners Need to Know About HVAC Services
Whether you’re looking for a new installation or you’ve run into an air conditioning emergency, finding the right HVAC service is the most important part of the process.
It can also be the most intimidating.
Unfortunately, picking the wrong company could cost you in the long run. According to ENERGY STAR, over half of all new HVAC systems in the US don’t perform as efficiently as designed due to poor installation. And no one wants to pick the air conditioning and heating company that doesn’t do a quality job, understand how to properly install their equipment or simply cuts corners!
But when it comes to finding the right HVAC air conditioning service, how do you know you’ve landed a winner? Here are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Your HVAC system works in tandem with other critical components in your home, including your plumbing, electric, and gas lines. As a result, any contractor who works on your HVAC must be licensed or work under the supervision of a licensed HVAC contractor.
In Texas, HVAC technicians are regulated by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. You can even look up their license on the site to see if it is valid. HVAC companies are required to list their license on their print materials, service trucks and website, so it should not be hard to find their state license.
Another license that every HVAC technician should have is a Section 608 Certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This certifies them to safely work with refrigerants in air conditioning equipment.
Ask them about their continuing education policies and what optional certifications they have such as the prestigious nationally-recognized NATE certification. NATE stands for North American Technician Excellence and they validate HVAC technicians’ professional competency on air conditioning and heating equipment.
Take Experience With a Grain of Salt
We’re family-owned and operated since 1982, so we know the value of experience. However, we also know expertise isn’t the only thing to pay attention to as you shop around for an HVAC repair service!
HVAC technology is always advancing as new developments make systems more efficient, and better at keeping you comfortable indoors. Newer systems may be zoned, have advanced electrical motherboards, can be connected via WiFi, and offer multi-speeds. A multi-speed system lets you use just the cooling you need, so you can really save when the weather is temperate. Even the thermostats are smart these days, anticipating your preferences for cool or heat before you even realize it.
As a result, a good HVAC company will keep on top of the latest industry standards and technologies. As you look for a good match, feel free to ask a contractor about the latest systems, as well as how they can help you meet energy efficiency, home automation and indoor air quality goals.
If the contractor tells you they’ve been following the same process for decades and they can’t really remember what training they have had recently, it’s a clear sign to look elsewhere!
Reviews, References, and Testimonials
Think of your search in the same way you would think of a job interview. Before you hire the worker in question, you want to ask the right questions and find out everything you can about their background from neutral third parties.
That’s where reviews, references, and testimonials come in.
First, contact the HVAC company or contractor in question and ask for some recent references.
Once you get your hands on these, reach out to ask a few questions: Did the technician come on time? Was the pricing as expected, or were there last-minute surprises? Were installations done cleanly and within the given timeframe?
As for reviews and testimonials, you may be able to find these online in multiple places, Yelp, Angie’s List, NextDoor, Google and many others.
Their website testimonials may give you a good idea of the service people have received. You can also check their social media channels, where you’ll likely find customers who have submitted through their online profiles.
Don’t forget about asking trusted friends and family for recommendations. They are often a treasure trove of information about good HVAC contractors in your area and better yet, who they might not recommend and why.
Some HVAC companies will offer to give you a verbal bid over the phone, but you should be wary of this.
HVAC systems are complex, and without inspecting yours in person it can be difficult for a technician to get an accurate picture of what will need to be done. For example, what size is your system? What features do you want – do you want an economy line, something middle of the road, or the top-line, variable speed HVAC unit with the highest efficiency ratings? What kind of ductwork needs fixing? Where are the registers in each room, and what kind of ventilation is available in your home? Are there any rooms that are too cool or too warm?
A good company will send someone out to your home to do a physical inspection of your system. This will give them an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of your unit and to give you an accurate estimate that goes beyond calculations based on square footage alone.
It is not uncommon for companies to charge for an estimate especially during the busy season. Often this will be credited back to the customer when they decide to go forward with the work.
Once this in-person inspection is complete, you should also expect a written estimate that spells out makes and model numbers, so you can compare apples to apples. This estimate will include all of the details the HVAC specialist has discussed with you during the inspection.
Today’s homeowner is constantly striving to save money on the heating and cooling of their home. The best HVAC companies know this, and they’ll offer upgrades and HVAC installation services that give you more energy-efficiency in the long run. Sometimes the energy efficiency difference is so great that replacing a unit can even pay for itself on your utility bills.
A good company should also be willing to answer questions and offer advice about your options. Each manufacturer sells more than one “level” of equipment by size – from the budget, performance, and high-tech, multi-speed options.
If environmental responsibility is important to you, ask the HVAC company if they recycle old equipment. As by law, all refrigerant in the old unit will be safely reclaimed to protect the environment.
A Recognized Brand
If you recognize a local HVAC brand, it’s usually a good sign that these contractors are trusted in your area. Local companies rely on their reputation for business, and they only tend to thrive as long as they continue providing affordable and efficient service. These businesses also tend to be the kinds of people who welcome questions and don’t mind offering advice on things like how often to service your HVAC system.
You may also consider working with a Factory Authorized Dealer because they go through an extensive vetting process, receive extra training and are selected based on their superior customer service. They often are able to offer additional specials and financing throughout the year. If your dealer has won awards from an HVAC manufacturer like Carrier, this can indicate an even higher standard of service.
Choosing the Right HVAC Air Conditioning Service
Shopping around for the right HVAC company can seem overwhelming, and it can be hard to find the right match. We’ve heard from plenty of customers who were misled by the wrong people, so we encourage you to ask smart questions and do your due diligence using the tips on our blog.
If you’d like to learn more about the HVAC service, maintenance and installation we offer in Richmond, Texas and Southwest Houston, we welcome all of your questions as well as second opinions. Reach out to us today at 281-495-7830—we’d be happy to prove we’re a good fit for your needs!