Sometimes you have the luxury of being able to research and obtain the best deal for your air conditioning and heating system.  Other times, Murphy’s Law kicks in and you find yourself at the mercy of whatever contractor can get your unit operating again the quickest. Here are some questions to consider helping you make the best choice regardless of what situation you are in:

  1.  Confirm that a company is licensed, bonded and insured.  Check to see that your contractor has met minimum standards in training and experience.  In some areas HVAC contractors are required to pass written exams in order to obtain a license to work in that industry.  Additionally, many contractors are required to carry insurance and be bonded to protect the customer in case of accidental damage or injury.
  2.  Obtain references.  Save yourself potential headaches by asking for the names and numbers of the company’s recent customers.  Then actually call them. Customers can give you valuable feedback as to the price, quality and timeliness of the contractor’s work.
  3.  Ask for estimates.  Let’s face it – a good quality HVAC system can cost you some serious dough.  If possible, take the time to get written estimates from at least three companies for a good comparison.  Make sure the estimates include a detailed description of the project, along with estimated completion dates.
  4.  Find out what brands are carried.  Very few HVAC companies can afford to carry a large selection of brands and equipment.  If you have your heart set on a certain manufacturer’s product that may limit your contractor choices.
  5.  Determine relevant experience.  Choose a contractor who has experience with your particular system.  For instance, a company who works with steam-driven radiators will have a difficult, if not impossible, time servicing your state-of-the-art geothermal system.
  6.  Check into tax credits or rebates.  Many manufacturers offer rebates on certain models.  Some projects also qualify for state or federal tax credits.  Be sure to ask if your model or project will qualify for any of these; if so; insist your project is properly documented to meet these requirements.
  7.  Making the payment.  A contractor may require full payment upfront or a deposit and partial payments on large projects.  They may also offer financing via the company’s line of credit.  Carefully read any financial paperwork to fully understand what you will be responsible for, and when.
  8. Deciding on a service contract.  Many companies offer service contracts.  These contracts help establish routine servicing to keep your unit running efficiently and catch any problems while they are minor.  As with financing plans, review the contract so you will know what the company will be responsible for.