How to Choose a Quality HVAC Contractor



Are you looking to replace your HVAC system now or in the future? Or… If your system is new, you must make sure it keeps running smoothly by arranging for annual maintenance. Regardless, ultimately you will need to partner with a contractor at some point. Here is a little information to help you with your search.

Certifications and Experience

HVAC systems are the most expensive equipment in the home, and everyone wants assurance that whoever works on their equipment is experienced and has the appropriate level of training. Some states require proper licensing for contractors in the HVAC industry but in Illinois, it's left up to each municipality to register or license them. In addition to a license, companies should hold a suitable level of bonding and insurance to cover any damage that might occur in your home.

Don’t be shy! Directly ask about a prospective contractor’s experience. While longevity in business won’t guarantee quality though it should promise stability. This is a direct sign that a contractor is doing something right. In addition, you should ask about any individual certifications the company’s technicians hold: Organizations such as Comfort Institute (CI), North American Technician Excellence (NATE) and Building Performance Institute (BPI) helps to guarantee a technician’s education is up to date.

Finally, ask about the brands the contractor sells Technicians should have special training with each brand the contractor offers. Each manufacturer’s systems are unique and a quality contractor will ensure that their technicians have training on each piece of equipment.

Healthy Home Assessment

If you’re having a new HVAC system installed, potential contractors should offer a “Healthy home Assessment”, or something similar, to determine the correct solution for your home's needs. Typical factors that must be taken into consideration are square footage, R-value of insulation, numbers of windows, and which way the home faces. Contractors should inspect the duct system for leaks, loose segments, and insulation. The Sizing of a new system should not be done based on square footage alone, but rather on calculations determined by data fed into industry standard software known as Manuals J (for cooling and heating loads), Manual S (to determine the size of equipment) and Manual D (for ductwork requirements). They will also be able to address any health issues in the home such as CO levels, mold growth, rodent residue, and infectious bacteria that might be in the HVAC system.

References and Referrals

Get references and referral, and use them! Ask about completed jobs, the timeframe in which they were completed, and if they stayed within budget. Ask about their policy on homeowner property, and if anything was damaged.

Check with the Better Business Bureau and see what kind of complaints have been registered. Go to Google! You can go online and check customer reviews and issues. The best referrals come from your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Call up local trade organizations, the best companies are typically active in the community.
Be careful when using online services such as Angie’s List, Thumbtack, or Home Advisor. They have a monetary benefit coming from a lot of the companies listed and typically do not vet them before allowing them to climb their rankings.

A proud contractor is a good contractor

Phone representatives should be helpful and let you know when the tech will be at your home and the name of the tech to ensure your safety. They will show pride in their trucks so they should be wrapped and in good repair. Techs should be clean and neat and eager to assist your needs.