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What to Look for When Hiring an HVAC Professional
Working with Air Conditioning Contractors
When faced with a breakdown of your central heating and air equipment, you don’t want to struggle to find honest, reliable help when you’re pressed to find relief from scorching heat or bitter cold. Right off the bat you should know that you are getting help from professionals who are capable and skilled at handling any repair or situation that is put in front of them. You may wonder who you can trust and what you can expect from them for you, or if it’s worth calling a local service provider? These questions can be easily answered and can provide the desired results for any service you require.
When should you call a local service provider?
Some homeowners may try to fix their air conditioning system on their own without a good understanding of how to deal with major problems. If you’re trying to work on your own furnace, air conditioning system, or heat pump, look for these noticeable signs that could indicate a bigger problem that’s best handled by a professional.
- If your furnace is old, 15 years or older, it may need to be replaced. Usually the first 4 digits of the serial number give you the year and week of manufacture.
- If it makes a strange, unusual sound.
- If cold air is coming out.
- If you have a carbon monoxide detector alarm going off in your home. Homeowners with natural gas appliances are recommended to place several of these appliances in bedrooms and other areas around the home.
Air conditioning system
- If your air conditioning system is 15 years old or older, it may be more cost-effective to repair versus replace it.
- If your system uses R22. The EPA has mandated that all production of R22 be stopped, which will increase the price in your area and the cost per pound.
- Persistent breakdowns over the years may indicate a larger problem that a contractor is better equipped to handle.
- If either the unit, indoor or outdoor, is not performing well
- If the temperature remains 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 form, including reviews, website information and contact information. Yelp is also a great resource for homeowners to view reviews and read feedback provided by the owner or company management. Even companies with many bad reviews help homeowners see how the company handles dispute resolution and help you know what to expect. The number of reviews is not always the best representation of a company’s customer service. Look at the quality of each review describing the customer experience.
A quick search at https://www.tdlr.texas.gov will also provide you with information on a potential contractor. It is the governing and licensing body for all contractors in Texas. All advertising materials and websites must list the contractor’s license number. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation will provide information about licensees and their current status. The following guidelines will help you find a qualified, reliable contractor.
Knowing who to trust
Most homeowners want to find someone who is trustworthy, reliable, and someone they can call on in the future. Here are some tips to ensure you get quality workmanship from a contractor. Make sure they qualify! A licensed and insured contractor will have no problem proving this to a potential client. Don’t be afraid to ask if they are licensed and insured. The state requires insurance to protect both the contractor and the customer. Knowing this information beforehand works for both parties involved. If you don’t find this information readily available on their website (usually at the bottom or bottom of the home page near their contact information) don’t hesitate to ask.
If the 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 that you are dealing with someone well-versed in troubleshooting and knowledge of air conditioning systems.
The price of the contractor is important!
The biggest determinant for most homeowners when it comes to repair or replacement options for central heating and air conditioning is cost. Neither the highest nor the lowest price is an indication of quality or value. Most contractors work hard to find effective solutions to reduce costs or meet the needs of their clients. Smaller firms or family-owned and operated outfits will generally provide higher quality work and be more competitive than larger firms that rely on a certain sales volume to cover their higher overhead costs.
Warranty is just as important as price though. You want the reassurance of knowing that your air conditioning repair company has the support. This also shows that the contractor has faith in his own work. A good contractor has contingencies built into most repair estimates or may choose to offer you a better, better, better option for repair or replacement. Not every customer wants the same thing or service level on every call. Even a good contractor won’t discuss price over the phone until they’ve had a chance to survey the situation or diagnose the problem.
Size is important
If it’s a system replacement you’re looking for a contractor to provide an assessment of the size of your home. Considering single stage systems and base line models of air conditioning systems, making sure your home’s air conditioning system is properly sized is important for your comfort. Higher SEER rated appliances or multistage or variable speed appliances will provide superior comfort over most base line models and result in savings on your utility bill. A good contractor will provide several options and be able to explain the differences and benefits of each system. Ask about the methods the contractor used to determine the air conditioning system size requirements 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 find a contractor you can work with, you may wonder what to expect next while they work on your home. A contractor will typically perform these tasks during installation, repair, or maintenance.
- Equipment should always be installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications using industry best practices.
- A system that connects the 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 equipment, and controls during and after startup
- Inspect and evaluate any type of HVAC system.
- Test to isolate individual parts of the system and diagnose what needs to be fixed.
- Replace or repair anything that is broken or defective.
- Performing routine maintenance to ensure that the HVAC system runs efficiently throughout the year.
- Changing the filter and cleaning the drain line to maintain the efficiency of your system.
- Annual or quarterly cleaning of condenser coils
- Cleaning the evaporator coil periodically or as needed.
- Tightening electrical connections or lugs, or replacing worn components from time to time can cause more problems down the road for components connected to the electrical supply.
Quality contractors will typically use state-of-the-art tools that are essential to your system’s function, performance, and reliability. They will also typically discuss industry best practices they use to ensure the reliability of your system. Vacuum pumps, recovery machines, acetylene torches and combustion analyzers are commonly used tools by good contractors.
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