Choosing the Right HVAC Contractor

There are things to consider in the decision making process when getting ready to choose what HVAC contractor is right for your project.

Not all contractors are the same, it is crucial you do your homework ahead of time to ensure you get a professional and competent contractor. There is a difference between an HVAC contractor that knows how to professionally install the equipment, resolve comfort and air flow issues and understands the new technology of today’s equipment and a mechanic who may know how the equipment runs but has not been trained beyond that.

1. Make sure they are licensed correctly

Often, many HVAC contractors say they are licensed, but usually are working without one. Construction in general is a hazardous industry, and there is too much at stake hiring an unlicensed or uninsured business. Your HVAC contractor should be qualified to maneuver gas lines, along with electrical and plumbing.

In SW Washington go to the link below to verify any contractor.

For the Portland/Metro area go to at this link to verify they are licensed correctly.

2. Has Experience

You should look into the amount of experience the contractor has. It may not guarantee that they will do an excellent job but their time and reputation in the business indicates that they are doing their job. You can also ask for the required certification and training for the installers.

The EPA Section 608 of the Clean Air Act, requires technicians servicing air conditioning and refrigeration equipment must be authorized by an EPA-approved exam. Also, North American Technician Excellence (NATE) can guarantee a technician’s education as well as if they’re up to date.

3. Performs an in home evaluation

If you’re looking to have an HVAC system installed, a comprehensive home evaluation should be performed to resolve any comfort issues you may be having and to help you pick the best equipment and or ductwork modifications to resolve any issues and meet the efficiency performance you are looking for. You should also be given a full written itemized estimate so you can compare energy efficiencies, warranties and cost comparisons. The contractor should be considering the square footage of your home, R-value of insulation, windows and other factors that are calculated in a heat load of your home. This is crucial in the sizing of your equipment and maximum performance. Many contractors are simply looking at the size of equipment you currently have and giving you a price for the same thing without doing the due diligence of sizing it correctly. This can cost you money and the system won’t perform to the load of the home if it is not accurate.

4. Be Careful When it Comes to Bidding

This isn’t specifically for HVAC, this is for contractors of all trades. It costs more in the long run when going with the lowest bidder. It is always best to get a trustworthy contractor, even if they are more expensive. If you do go for the lowest bidder, it might end up costing more for maintenance, repair, or reinstallation. Not to mention the inconvenience if you don’t have heating, ventilation, or air conditioning, especially in the seasons you need them. Often, the contractor that sets a lower bid isn’t investing in his employees training and certifications to offer such prices. Many times they aren’t licensed, insured, or don’t have as much experience; this can hinder performance. Your expectations may be lowered because they will deliver the performance at their lower price. This can lead to short HVAC system life or breakdowns. Experience and quality always comes at a higher price and we get what we pay for.

5. Get Referrals

Ask your co-workers, friends and neighbors if they can recommend a contractor. Ask the contractor for referrals of clients they have worked with and give them a call! Online reviews and ratings are always helpful to gather insights on the company. But keep in mind they can also be inaccurate. Be aware that when using Yelp they filter reviews and sometimes small businesses have false reviews. Use common sense when it comes to researching contractors. Review the site, read comments and do lots of homework!

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