Tips for Choosing the Right HVAC Contractor

So much of how satisfactory your heating and air conditioning system relies on who you choose to install, maintain, and repair it. The fact of the matter is it doesn’t matter how advanced of a system you buy, the most state of the art, energy-efficient, high SEER rating air conditioner or the most advanced, sophisticated geothermal heat pump system, the company you choose to work with is going to determine what life is like with this system, how much frustration or peace of mind and comfort you’ll get out of your HVAC system.

For that reason we’re going to focus this tip of the day on that specific conundrum, how exactly does one with very little inherent knowledge of HVAC go about choosing the right HVAC contractor to work with? There seems to be a million of them out there these days, all of the course calling themselves the place to go to for air conditioning in Austin. With that many choices, you can sure bet that some are going to be better, more experienced, and more professional than others, and sometimes that difference can make all the difference when it comes to your Austin heater repair satisfaction and heating and air conditioning experience and the amount of money you end up spending on it.

Taking Stock

Choosing the right HVAC contractor for your specific situation relies on more than a matter of how good of a contractor they are, how experienced their technicians are, or whether or not they are going to try and scam you, although those are all important points on their own. No, the first thing you should look for is a company that is equipped to work with the system you have or the kind of system you’re looking for. So your first job is to take a look at your own situation.

When hunting for a company to maintain your system, look for one that designs, installs, and services the type of system you have. Full-service companies also tend to be up to date on the latest advances in the field. What kind of air conditioning system do you have? Are you looking to switch to a heat pump system? How old is your furnace? All of these are the kinds of questions you should be finding out the answers for before you even start searching for an HVAC contractor so that when you are looking you know what to look for.

Of course, knowing what kind of system you have now doesn’t by any means mean you should look for a contractor who is just going to carelessly replace it with the same thing. A properly trained HVAC contractor will recommend several options to bring your home up to date, and increase the efficiency of your home. If they try and sell you an older model, they are likely trying to unload some of their own inventory. Make sure that whoever you’re working with is trying to present you with options and recommendations of what kind of brand, model, and type of HVAC system is right for you.

Beware the Warning Signs

As much as there are things you should look for when choosing an HVAC contractor, there are many things you want to avoid. There’s a wide range between good and bad when it comes to HVAC companies and if you’re aware of some of the signs of poor business then you’re going to be more prepared to make the right decision when it comes time to commit money.

One of the biggest warning signs to look out for is a lack of thoroughness. A good HVAC contractor is going to need to look at your whole situation before making any recommendations. A bad one will try to move the process forward as quickly as possible and likely cut corners in the meanwhile. One of the best little signs you can look out for early in the process in this regard is if they try to give you an estimate over the phone.

Just as no two automobiles are the same, no two air conditioning units are the same. Be wary of any HVAC contractor that tries to give you an estimate or a bid over the phone. There are far too many factors to take into account that a technician cannot see over the phone. How is your ducting? Is there the proper amount of registers per room? What type of insulation do you have? What type of windows do you have? After ascertaining all of those factors, a trained HVAC contractor will then do a Manual-J calculation for your air conditioning system. None of this can be done over the phone, so again, if someone gives you a bid over the phone, they are either inexperienced or are trying to gain your business without using the time and gas required for a visit. When they get there, also be wary of anyone who gives you a bid without properly surveying your house. A real contractor will crawl in your attic, crawl spaces and walk around the entire house. If they don’t do this, then they aren’t properly inspecting your house for their Manual J calculation, which is essential if you want a properly sized air conditioner.

Another warning side is a contractor that tries to sell you on a part replacement that doesn’t actually need replacing. This is more in the realm of repairs rather than installation. If you’re getting a regular maintenance check and you unexpectedly hear from the technical at the end of the process that something is bad and needs replacing you should ask yourself a few questions first. is the building properly cooled or heated? Is the unit noisier than usual? Is there a bad smell coming from the unit or vents? If you said “no” to all of these questions, then there may be nothing really wrong. Do your own research before agreeing to have any work done! For example, if they say your compressor is shot, then do a quick Google search for: “signs of a bad HVAC compressor” and see what comes up. There may be a simpler way to diagnose it than the physical part. Basically, it comes down to is if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. If the technician can’t point out in clear and obvious ways why something needs replacing don’t do any more business with that company.

Where and How to Search

All of this talk of warning signs and questions to ask yourself is great but you may be stuck farther back in the process. The first thing you need is a clear method of searching for and browsing your options. So where exactly do you look when you’re looking for an HVAC contractor?

Well, you’ve got options. You can check the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). This non-profit organization is comprised of more than 60,000 professionals and 4,000 businesses in the indoor environment field and energy services. ACCA helps customers who are looking for quality contractors find reputable businesses amid their members. These businesses are sure to be in good standing and able to provide a number of referrals for previous jobs. Another option is Angie’s List, a consumer review and rating website, where anyone can check whether the company or contractor they are about to hire is trustworthy and performs high-quality work. Services and companies are graded on a scale from A to F, and the reviews go into many details such as cost, professionalism, meeting contract agreements and deadlines, and more.

A third option that often seems to work better than any official review platform is asking around for recommendations and referrals. Ask your friends, neighbors, and colleagues who work in the same field as yours, even ask family members. Those who are usually within your circle of trust won’t mislead you. The reason this option works so well for many is you’re going to get very unbiased and reliable answers. Who’s going to be more honest about the contractor’s performance than those who’ve sunk money into their services?

When you start talking to contractors your first step is the basics, the credentials. Of course, the license and surety bond are major requirements, but you will also want to make sure that the contractor has all the necessary permits to do the job. Find out whether your HVAC contractor has experience with the maintenance, repair, or replacement of your existing system in order to prevent future misunderstanding or technical problems. If you are planning to install a new system, do thorough research to find out which contractors specialize in that particular brand or model. Many states that license HVAC contractors require that the applicant have a minimum amount of on-the-job or training experience, typically 2 to 5 years, working with HVAC systems. A good contractor is one who will be there to guide you through the maintenance process. In the long run, knowing how to service the system yourself will save a considerable amount of money.

Contractor Hunting and Heating Repair in Austin

As you can see, there are a lot of factors that separate the good from the bad when it comes to choosing an HVAC contractor to work with. Some of the factors aren’t even about how experienced they are but just how good of a fit they are for what you’re looking to install. Whether you’re just looking for someone to give your system its annual checkup or you’re looking to completely overhaul your cooling and heating in Austin, do your research before you sign anything.

When you do need to find an HVAC contractor in Austin, consider AC Express. AC Express has been in the business of repairing and installing HVAC systems and helping people with their Austin heating and air conditioning for over ten years. We work with an exhaustive number of brands, system types, and models, from the most state-of-the-art heat pumps to the oldest air conditioners. Our service area includes everything from Buda and Kyle to Pflugerville and Round Rock. If you’re looking for expert heater repair in Austin, call today!