10 Questions to Ask When Choosing an HVAC Contractor

Intro


When the time comes to choose an HVAC contractor, you want to make sure you make the best decision.

If you have done it before, you know how tough the decision could be; after all, a new system is not cheap. You want to ensure you have it professionally installed and will last you upwards of 15-20 years.

There are many factors to consider when choosing an HVAC contractor, and price may be the least significant one you should consider.

This guide will cover the factors you should consider when choosing an HVAC contractor. Such as how many years they have been in business, their online and offline reputation, and more.

Below we will cover some of the questions you should ask.


Jump to Section

  1. Company values

  2. Owners, managers, and employees

  3. Years in business

  4. On and offline reputation

  5. Company Size

  6. Customer Base

  7. Permits and code

  8. Equipment

  9. Warranties

  10. Partnerships

  11. Conclusion


What are the company's values?


A company's values tell you a lot about the people who work for and manage the company.

When choosing a contractor, you should look for a company willing to be with you during the tough times and be true to its word.

Many contractors will say anything to get you to say yes. And that is why you want to ensure you work with a company that can and will be true to its promises.

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Who are the owners, managers, and employees? What are their experience levels? And Do They Have A Clean Record?


Like the above, the owners, managers, and employees are essential when choosing a company.

After all, the owners and managers dictate the policies.

And the managers and employees make sure to live and work by these policies.

In addition to the policies, you should evaluate the skill level and experience across the board.

Most often than not, the owners have the most experience and pass their knowledge to the managers, employees, and technicians who install, maintain or repair your HVAC system.

This knowledge and skills take time to learn; it is always important to choose a company where the experience levels are high.

Otherwise, you risk a faulty install or repair, which will eventually cost you more in the long run.

Finally, you want to ensure owners, managers, and employees have a clean criminal history.

After all, these are people that you are putting your trust in to provide you with professional services. You want to be sure they are safe and follow ethical business practices.


How many years is the company in business?


How many years the company has been in business is also important. A company that has been in business for a long time can tell you a lot about it.

If a company has been around for 25+ years, it is doing something right; it probably satisfies customers and consistently provides quality work.

Newer companies have relied on the internet to propel them forward.

The internet is great; however, some companies have exploited it and rely on fake reviews to make them appear better and more reliable. And this leads us to our next point.


What is the company's online and offline reputation?

A company's reputation, both offline and online, is crucial.

It is not just the quantity of the reviews but the quality. A customer who leaves a detailed review is a happy one.

They believe the company's work is worth the time it takes to write a long review.

We believe that long positive reviews outweigh long negative ones.

Frustrated customers typically vent through reviews. Meaning it is harder to earn a positive one than a negative one.

Another factor to consider in reviews is how many reviews were left by a single person.

Does this customer leave a review for everything, or did they go out of their way to write one?

We believe the latter is more significant.

Finally, the review source is an important one.

Many sites, such as Yelp or Angi, have underdeveloped review protection mechanisms.

This can lead to fake reviews, both positive and negative (this is the exploitation we spoke about in the previous section).

We believe the most vital source of reviews is Google.

After all, they know if an account is fake or not because it is linked to a Gmail account.

This limits the number of fake reviews for any given company and provides customers with an authentic source of online reputation.

What is the company's size?

A company's size is also something to consider.

Most of the time, people assume that smaller companies provide better service than larger companies.

This can be true, although we believe this to be counter-intuitive. Let's see why.

Imagine dealing with a company of 5 people. One person does installations, one does repairs, one takes calls, and one manages the office.

Then you have the owner who handles the whole operation.

This company of 5 people can help out a maximum of 3-4 customers at a given time. However, let's assume they have been around for three years and provide services for 300 customers.

The hot or cold season is coming in, and the problems start.

The thermostat isn't working for one person, and the AC system won't blow cool air for the other person.

The problem can be big or small, but they still need to be addressed.

That is where the small companies fail. With a small workforce, they can't address every minor issue.

Everyone in the HVAC industry knows that you need to install as many systems as possible and avoid service and repairs if you want to be profitable and stay in business.

After all, if you have a new system installed and under warranty, there is no money to be made.

If you go with a small company, they will be glad to help you install a system, but you may be last in line when the problems arise.

On the other hand, larger companies have dedicated departments that can handle a more significant workload at any given time.

For that reason, we advise working with larger, more established companies to ensure you will have minor issues addressed promptly, even after installing your system.


How many customers do they serve?


Continuing with the previous point, how many customers a company serves is essential.

If you decide to go with a small company, you want to be sure they will address your issues when problems arise.

Larger companies with a more efficient operation can serve more customers while still providing good service.

So, if they are a large company with a large customer base, that is good because that shows they can provide quality service at scale.

If they are a small company, you want to be sure they have enough customers where you know they do good work but still can provide quality service when things go downhill.


Do they pull permits and abide by the city code?

Every city has codes and regulations that need to be followed. Each HVAC contractor must follow and abide by these codes.

Most HVAC contractors follow and abide by the codes. The city requires a permit, but who pulls the city permit is undiscussed.

Many contractors hide these details in the contract and leave the responsibility to you. It saves them time, money, headaches, and, most importantly, liability and responsibility.

This is where you, the customer, can suffer from this at the end of the day.

A job done without permits is open to legal and monetary liabilities.

Suppose one of the technicians or installers gets injured during the installation, and it was your responsibility to pull a permit.

The insurance will go after you and your insurance because it was your responsibility.

If a fire breaks out because there was no testing to ensure the system was installed correctly and in line with all safety requirements, you will have no one to blame but yourself.

Furthermore, your insurance won't cover anything because there were no permits for the job, nor did the installation pass the safety inspections.

For these reasons, you want to be sure your HVAC contractor is the one who pulls the permits.

It shows they are professional and that they stand behind their work.

It may cost more upfront, but you get peace of mind knowing you are getting the job done right.

What equipment do they install?

There are many HVAC equipment manufacturers in the market. Lennox, Trane, Goodman, Carrier, and Rheem are the more popular.

But why does this matter when choosing an HVAC contractor?

First, a company that offers at least two options shows that they are willing to work with you and find something suitable for your needs.

If they offer you one option, they generally have a vested interest, which might conflict with what is best for you.

Second, expertise. A contractor that offers at least two options shows that they can service and repair various systems.

However, it would be best to avoid contractors who sell systems from more than three manufacturers.

It takes many hours to learn the ins and outs of every system. And this can reduce the quality of work due to a lack of specialized knowledge.

A contractor who installs from two manufacturers is ideal.

They typically offer products from manufacturers who sell a more high-end HVAC system and, on the other end, a more affordable HVAC system.

They will have specialized knowledge of each type of system while providing you with a high-end or more affordable option.


What warranties do they offer?

Typically when getting an HVAC system installed, it comes with a warranty.

However, the warranties vary by the equipment manufacturer and the company installing the system.


Typically, an equipment warranty will cover any damaged or defective equipment within a specific time frame.

And a labor warranty will cover the cost of any labor involved in repairing a faulty system.

Check what warranties they offer, as they vary from company to company.

Do they have any partnerships?

Many big box stores such as Costco, Lowes, Home Depot, and Sam's Club offer HVAC services.

A company that has a partnership with any big box store is typically a safe bet.

Companies like Costco, for example, have high customer service and expectations.

Imagine the vetting process to ensure that their customers get good quality services.

Whether a company has a partnership is not a deal breaker. However, you can be confident that a company with a big box partnership typically meets high-performance standards.

Just be aware that many companies will claim they work with a big box store when they don't.

Just be sure to check their credentials.


Conclusion


There you have it, the most important factors to consider when choosing an HVAC contractor. Some of these questions are easier to ask than others.

We recommend talking to about two or three companies.

More than that, you are wasting your time. Less than that and you won't have a good idea of the market.


Do your research before reaching out to any company. This will save you time.

Be confident, and don't be shy to ask your contractor the tough questions.

You are about to spend a good amount of money on your new system. And you want to be sure you make the best decision.


We have ranked the best HVAC contractors by city to make it easier for you to find one.