As winter quickly approaches, is your home heating and HVAC system ready? Ensure your family remains warm all winter and find a qualified HVAC contractor to complete a winter tune up. Afterall, your HVAC system is one of the most expensive systems in your home. So, you want it running efficiently and properly. In fact, proper maintenance improves the longevity of your heating system.
How do you conduct proper maintenance?
Many homeowners feel comfortable checking thermostats for working batteries or changing filters. These are important steps during an annual inspection. However, a qualified HVAC contractor possess the expertise to diagnose and repair any significant or pending issues.
But how do you find a reputable HVAC contractor and vet them for inspecting your heating system?
Most people start with asking family, friends or co-workers in the area. Recommendations and word of mouth work in all industries, including HVAC. Additionally, online reputations make a difference. Although no company is perfect, review platforms provide a measuring stick. How many reviews did customers leave? What is the overall feeling? Is the company accountable to upset customers?
To help, please find expert tips, suggestions and questions that any qualified HVAC contractor should easily answer.
Winter Tune Up Questions to Ask Your HVAC Contractor
During the winter, you do not want your heating system to fail. As a result, find a HVAC contractor that really understands home heating. Plus, learn how they treat their customers. For example, not all HVAC systems are the same. The right HVAC contractor fits the proper system into your home. As a result, you save money because the system requires less energy.
Is my HVAC system the right fit for my home?
“To determine the right size for your home, reputable companies and contractors use the Manual J load analysis when installing a new system. Manual J is a calculation that takes into account your home’s age, number and condition of its windows, insulation, number of floors, square footage, local energy rates and other factors.
Beware the contractor who merely bases the size of the new HVAC on the size of your existing one. Often these systems are out of date or not properly sized from the start. A good contractor should also ask you about any heating or cooling issues you’ve been having to ensure they’re addressing all possible solutions.”
Please explain your winter tune-up process?
As a homeowner, you deserve to know how the HVAC technician plans to complete your winter home inspection.
“Ask the contractor to inspect your ducts for air leaks and insulation if you have a forced-air system (i.e. furnace, heat pump or central air conditioner). It is especially important to check ducts located in an attic or crawlspace.”
Ultimately, asking about the process helps vet the recommendations.
“Is the contractor willing to conduct a thorough inspection of the HVAC system prior to performing any work? Does the contractor agree to disclose any problems discovered during the HVAC inspection? Is the HVAC system fully operational before cleaning? Will the contractor clean the supply ductwork? Will the contractor clean the return ductwork?”
Additionally, during the vetting process, ask questions about a potential HVAC contractor’s experience.
Are you certified? How much experience do they have with heating inspections?
“Are the technicians NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certified? Will they perform detailed load calculations, and duct design/installation?”
In fact, always ask about certifications and their training experience because HVAC systems require specific knowledge.
“Technical training is a must, whether it is through an on-the-job apprenticeship, a short-term vocational course or a full-fledged certification program at a technical or trade school. Also, many states do require a license to become an HVAC technician – this license is usually obtained by passing an exam. Federally, techs must become certified with the EPA in order to work with refrigerants. NATE certifications – North American Technical Excellence – are also valuable, although not required by all HVAC employers.”
Finally, learn about the company as a whole. How do they operate and treat employees or customers?
“Start by calling and asking the following: How long have they been in business in your area? Which manufacturers do they do installs for? (They should work with at least two different companies.) Verification of trade licenses. Verification of insurance. (Make sure the contractor carries general liability insurance and workers’ compensation. If the contractor is not insured, the homeowner may be liable for accidents that occur on the property.) Verification they are properly registered with the state and local authorities. References of former customers you could actually talk to.”
Questions to Ask a Qualified HVAC Contractor
In addition to home heating inspections, ask some general questions. Ultimately, finding a reliable, trustworthy and experienced HVAC company is worth the due diligence. In particular, the Northeast enjoys bitter cold winters and hot, humid summers. Once you find your HVAC team, then you can rest easy knowing your home is in good hands.
“Truly professional contractors care about your home’s indoor environment system, because they care about your business…and they want your referrals. True professionals offer employee training, provide state of the art equipment, ask you questions about your lifestyle needs, and provide options for service, so you can make the right decision.”
Does the HVAC contractor take the time for an in-person visit?
“In fact, you should be wary of the contractor willing to give you a quote over the phone. To provide the most precise estimate, a technician will need to physically see what your system looks like and what the work will potentially entail. Consequently, you should look for someone who is willing to take the time to inspect your home and give you a more accurate assessment.”
Is there a written statement of work?
“Sign a written contract before work gets started. This protects you by specifying project costs, model numbers, job schedule, and warranty information.”
How does the HVAC company communicate?
“When you call, describe symptoms in as much detail as possible. Ask the company to explain how it calculates service charges. Have the company provide a written description of needed work and total price to do it before it begins work. Ask to see replaced parts. Be present, but not in the way, as work proceeds. Get a detailed invoice.”
Although our primary concern is our home, ask about the company. Why? How a company treats and hires employees shines a light on how they treat customers. Plus, when you find that magical HVAC contractor, you want them around for a while.
“Does the worker have a picture ID badge and a uniform? Does the company perform rigorous criminal and drug background checks? This can be a sensitive subject to bring up, but I have personally heard of numerous instances where unlicensed contractors or their workers have been linked to crimes, including removing items while homeowners were gone, selling contents of a home, and copying keys and returning to a home later to commit a crime. [I] urge homeowners to speak up and ask for licenses and badges.”
Are warranties available? Is financing an option? Are discounts available for new customers or maintenance agreements?
“Most HVAC warranties cover parts but do not cover the labor to replace the parts. For this reason, it is important to ask your contractor if he or she offers a labor warranty on a newly installed unit. Most reputable contractors will offer a parts and labor warranty for one year following installation. However, past the first year, you typically have to purchase an extended labor warranty (either from the manufacturer or the contractor), because the manufacturer won’t reimburse the contractor for replacing a faulty part.”
Experience the SolvIt Difference
At SolvIt, we feel we meet and exceed the industry standards of professionalism and customer service. In the words of Scott Bilodeau, President of SolvIt Home Services:
“We built our reputation and business on reliability, convenience, and the best warranties in the industry. Our team strives to provide 100% customer satisfaction built on respect for you and your home. Most importantly, we only hire the best heating technicians by utilizing stringent hiring practices and conducting thorough background checks on all of our technicians. We employ these hiring practices for our customer’s safety and peace of mind. Our technicians are licensed, bonded, and insured. SolvIt technicians arrive at your home equipped to repair, maintain, and install all major appliances. We provide service on your schedule with upfront pricing.”
Connecticut’s harsh winter is no time to have your heating system quit on you. Your heating system needs the right attention and care to help protect its value and keep it working efficiently. SolvIt offers reliable and budget-friendly options when your heating system fails you (including expertise in oil to gas conversions and financing help through the Connecticut gas conversion incentive program). We offer furnace repairs and annual maintenance inspections, as well as installation of new furnaces and boilers.
What are your heating questions? Call or schedule your winter tune up today!