What to Look For When Hiring a HVAC Professional

Working with Air Conditioning Contractors

When dealing with a breakdown of you central heating and air equipment, you don’t want to struggle finding honest, reliable help when you're pressed to find relief from the sweltering heat or bitter cold. Right off the bat you should know you're getting help from a qualified and skilled professional able to handle any repair or situation that is put before them. You might wonder who you can trust, and what you can expect them to do for you, or if its worth it to call a local service provider? These questions can be easily answered and give you the desired results for any service need you have. 

When Should You Call a Local Service Provider?

Some homeowners may attempt to fix their air conditioning system on their own without having a good understanding of how to deal with bigger issues. If you are attempting to work on your own furnace, air conditioning system or heat pump, look for these noticeable signs that may indicate a bigger problem that would be best handled by a professional.

Furnace

  • If your furnace is older, 15 years or more, it may need to be replaced. normally the first 4 digits of the serial number will give you the year and week of manufacturing. 
  • If it is making strange, abnormal noises. 
  • If cold air is coming out. 
  • If a carbon monoxide detector alarm is going off in your house. It is recommended that homeowners with natural gas appliances have several of these in bedrooms and other locations around the house. 

Air Conditioning System

  • If your air conditioning system is 15 years or older, it may be more cost effective to replaced it versus repair
  • If your system uses R22. The EPA has mandated that all manufacturing of R22 be stopped, driving up the cost and price per pound in your area. 
  • Continued breakdowns year after year may indicate a bigger problem that a contractor is better equipped to handle. 

Heat Pump

  • If either unit, indoor, or outdoor is not performing well
  • If temperatures are staying even throughout the house. 

Finding a Qualified Contractor

In this internet driven age, most homeowners will pull out their smart phone and research local contractors in their area. Many search engines like Google will provide all the information in a concise format, providing reviews, website info,  and contact information. Yelp is also a great resource for homeowners to peruse reviews and read feedback provided by the owner, or management of the company. Even companies with several bad reviews help homeowners see how the company handles conflict resolution, and helps you know what to expect. The number of reviews is not always the best representation of that companies customer service. Look at the quality of each review that describes the experience of the consumer. 
A quick search at https://www.tdlr.texas.gov will also provide you with information about a potential contractor. This is the governing and licensing agency for all contractors in Texas. All advertising material and websites should list the contractor's license number. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation will provide information about the licensee and their current status. The following guidelines below will also help you find a qualified, trustworthy contractor. 

Knowing Who to Trust

Most Homeowners want to find someone trustworthy, who is reliable and who they're able to call in the future should the need arise. Here are a few tips to ensure you get quality workmanship from a contractor. Make sure they are qualified! A contractor that is licensed and insured will have no problems producing proof of such to a prospective customer. Don't be afraid to ask if they are licensed and insured. Insurance is required by the state to protect both the contractor and the consumer. Knowing this information prior works out for both parties involved. If you can't find this information readily available on their website (usually in the footer or bottom of the homepage near their contact info) don't hesitate to ask. 

If a air conditioning contractor has additional certifications, that information will usually be present on their website. NATE technicians are the industry's gold standard in technical proficiency. NATE stands for North American Technician Excellence. Testing and certification for NATE is rigorous and comprehensive, ensuring you're dealing with someone who is able to proficient in troubleshooting and air conditioning system knowledge. 

The price of the contractor is important!

One of the greatest determinants for most homeowners when it comes to repairs, or replacement options for central heating and air conditioning is price. Neither the highest price or the lowest is an indication of quality, or value. Most contractors work very hard to minimize the cost or find a cost effective solutions that works for their customers needs. Smaller companies or family owned and operated outfits will typically provide high quality work, and be more competitive than larger companies that rely on a certain sales volume to cover the cost of their high overhead. 
Equally as important as price though is the warranty. You want the assurance of knowing your air conditioning repair is backed by the company that performed the work. This also shows that the contractor has faith in their own work as well.  A good contractor will also have a contingency built into most repair estimates, or may choose to offer you good, better, best options for repairs or replacement. Not every customer wants the same thing, or level of service on every call. A good contractor also will not typically discuss pricing over the phone until they have had a chance to survey the situation, or diagnose the issue

Size is Important

If system replacement is what you are looking for a contractor should provide a size assessment of your home. Ensuring your home's air conditioning system is sized correctly is important for your comfort when it comes to single stage systems and base line models of air conditioning systems. Higher SEER rated equipment or multistage or variable speed equipment will provide superior comfort than most of the base line models, and also result in savings on your utility bill. A good contractor will provide several options and be able to explain the difference and benefits of each system. Ask about what methods the contractor used to determine the size requirement of the air conditioning system for your home. Manual J software, blower door tests, HERs raters(for new construction, required in certain areas)  and other technologies are used by quality contractors to determine this.

What Does a Contractor Do?

After you have found a contractor you can work with you may wonder what to expect next while they are working at your house. A contractor will typically carry out these tasks during installation, repairs or maintenance. 
  • Equipment should always be installed according  to the manufacturer’s specifications, using the industry best practices.
  • Connecting systems to different fuel and water lines.
  • Connecting air conditioning ducts and sealing to prevent air loss.
  • Installing electrical controls and wiring according to code
  • Performing tests on the equipment, and controls during and after startup
  • Inspect and asses any type of HVAC system.
  • Test individual parts of the system to isolate and diagnose what needs fixing.
  • Replace or repair whatever is broken or defective.
  • Performing routine maintenance to ensure the HVAC system is running efficiently throughout the year.
  • Replacement of filters and clearing of drain lines to maintain the efficiency of your system.
  • Cleaning of condenser coils yearly or quarterly
  • Cleaning of evaporator coils periodically or as needed. 
  • tightening electrical connections or lugs, or periodically replacing components that are worn and may cause greater issues down the road for components connected to the electrical supply. 
Quality Contractors will typically employ sophisticated tools that are essential to your systems function, performance, and reliability. They will also typically discuss best industry practices they employ to ensure the reliability of your system. Vacuum pumps, recovery machines, acetylene torches and combustion analyzers are tools typically employed by good contractors. 


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