How to Choose a Contractor

Heating and central air conditioning is critical to the comfort of one's home and business. Despite the importance of these systems, most often people do not put much thought into their maintenance until a problem arises. If this happens, a qualified HVAC contractor is necessary to repair or install a new furnace or central air conditioning system. Residential and commercial HVAC contractors may also perform other valuable services, such as cleaning air ducts. Before retaining the services of a contractor, it is important for people to understand the importance of choosing wisely. In order to successfully do this, websites such as ACSoutheast.com can help. In addition, there are certain questions that must be asked, and there are red flags to look out for. Although our website is designed to help residents of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina find qualified technicians, the consumer must still know what to look for in order to find the most suitable residential or commercial HVAC contractor for his or her needs.

Finding a Contractor

Searching for a HVAC contractor is very similar to locating a contractor for any other type of home repair. You will want to first find a contractor who is qualified to perform the job and who also has a good reputation for dependability and quality of work. A good first step toward selecting a knowledgeable, skilled, and licensed HVAC contractor is to search ACSoutheast.com. This will drastically narrow down your choices on who is best to contact. An additional way to find a HVAC contractor is to ask friends and family whom you trust for a recommendation. Once you've located contractors from our website and the contractors referred by people who you know, you will need to contact them for further information and to narrow down your choices.

Licensing and Insurance

It is of the greatest importance that, if necessary, any contractors used for your HVAC needs has the proper licensing. When you use our website, you can rest assured that anyone you contact will be a licensed HVAC contractor. When calling a contractor, confirm that his or her license is current and ask for the number. In most states, a license number may be verified online at the state's website. The contractor should also carry suitable insurance, such as workers' compensation and liability insurance. Working with contractors who do not carry insurance may prove costly, as you may be held liable for any accidents that occur.

Certifications

Certification is another indication of a qualified HVAC contractor. Ask contractors that you speak with about the certifications, if any, that they hold. One certification in particular is North American Technician Excellence, or NATE. NATE is a third-party certification in which technicians must pass rigorous testing. This testing ensures you, the consumer, that the contractor has a certain level of competence in performing his or her job. While it is not a requirement that the HVAC contractors on our site are certified, you'll find that many of them have received their certification with NATE.

Associations and Memberships

While interviewing potential contractors, find out if they are associated with any companies or manufacturers. Residential and commercial HVAC contractors that you find on ACSoutheast.com are often associated with and carry products from Carrier® or Bryant®. Both carry a full line of residential and commercial HVAC systems including furnaces, heat pumps, and central heating and air conditioning systems. They will also be qualified to install, maintain, repair, or replace the Carrier® or Bryant® products that they are associated with. Contractors associated with either of the two are also NATE certified.

References

Any of the HVAC contractors that you contact should be willing to provide you with references when asked. These references should be from recent customers, and they should include a way for you to contact them. When contacting the reference, be specific with your questions. Ask about their overall satisfaction with the work done, the contractor's dependability and how closely the budget was adhered to.

Estimates

Your budget plays an important role in choosing a contractor, but it should not be the only deciding factor. Instead, consider it in combination with other factors and responses that are given. To help you choose a contractor, ask for estimates. According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, consumers should avoid businesses who offer an estimate over the phone without first evaluating what needs to be done. This in-home evaluation is typically free to the consumer. For replacement or new units, the technician or contractor should perform a load calculation. This will help ensure that the correct unit is being put into place. The technician should never appear to guess or recommend a larger unit as a method of "being safe." Estimates of the price and labor costs should then be written in a proposal that you can compare against other proposals before coming to a final decision. The proposal should be a detailed outline of what will be needed, including equipment. Be cautious of bids that are too low as it may be a sign of the quality of their work. You will also want to inquire about warranties and use a combination of warranty and cost to guide you in your choice.

Heed First Impressions

First impressions matter when selecting either a residential or a commercial HVAC contractor. It is particularly important, however, when it comes to residential repairs or maintenance as this is a person whom you will invite into your home until repairs or the replacement has been completed. A contractor should not make you feel uncomfortable, be argumentative or disrespectful. If the person does not seem like someone who you can trust, it is wise to select a different contractor.

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