The Ultimate Guide to Hiring an HVAC ContractorPhoto by Zulki Jrzt

Originally Posted On: https://phyxter.ai/the-ultimate-guide-to-hiring-an-hvac-contractor

 

What do you need to know before hiring an HVAC contractor?

Let’s start by listing out everything that you will need to consider before hiring the perfect contractor:

  1. Experience
  2. Licenses
  3. Insurance
  4. Parts Warranty
  5. Labor Warranty
  6. Ratings & Reviews
  7. Schedule or Availability
  8. Product Brands
  9. Location

Now what we need to do is review each of the above topics so you’ll be able to understand what to look for.

Experience

Some people will argue that experience is irrelevant when it comes to the quality of an HVAC contractor’s work, but I never leave anything to chance. When it comes to experience there’s a lot to be said for someone that has “seen it all” and when it comes to your home or business, you want to make sure that the work being done on it is not only done right but that the right work is done. What I mean by that, is that one contractor might tell you that you need a certain size A/C while another HVAC company tells you something different…who should you believe? I’m not going to say that you should believe the contractor with the most experience, but that is a good starting point. On that topic, I would recommend going with the contractor that doesn’t just tell you something, but the one that can explain the options the best.

If experience is lacking when it comes to your HVAC contractor options, then try to think about which contractor is not only the most prepared but the one that brings documentation and reasoning for everything they present to you. If a contractor can back up their choices with professional and easy to understand material, then you probably have a winner on your hands.

A side note, ask them to see the back of their service vehicle…if it’s organized and clean, then there’s a better chance your job will be given the same level of care.

Licenses

Who even knows what HVAC licenses are needed? You could be living in Texas or even Toronto; whether it’s a different country or a different state or province, you can better that the licensing requirements are going to be different.

So, how can you determine what is needed? One way is to use an app like Phyxter; it allows contractors to create transparent profiles that include credential checks and even background checks…plus, because of the simplicity behind the design of the app you’ll be able to easily compare profiles to see which licenses contractors have and then recognize if someone doesn’t have a particular license. The second way, which might be a little more time consuming, but more concrete, is to contact your local municipal office and ask them (a lot of times Google will have the same answer).

As an example of what to look for, HVAC contractors in Canada require a refrigeration and air conditioning license, as well as a natural gas and propane license. Some contractors may only have one, but that just means they can only work on that type of equipment (NG & P for heating). Another aspect to consider if you’re hiring a contractor to work on your heating, is what size equipment can the contractor work on with their license? In Ontario, there are three licenses (G1, G2, and G3).

Insurance

This is a tough one to explain. Does the contractor show you that they have insurance, do you simply believe them, or do you confirm that the insurance is valid?

I hate to say this, but there are HVAC contractors out there that purchase insurance, show you their certificate, and then cancel it. As a homeowner, you need to be diligent in confirming the validity of the insurance, and if you ever have a doubt, then you should be wondering what it is about the contractor that is giving you doubt. There are an incredible number of quality contractors out there, so you just have to make sure that you’re hiring one of them…if you’re not sure, don’t risk it and ask someone for help…like Phyxter 🙂

Another thing to consider when reviewing a contractor’s insurance is the amount and type of insurance they carry. For example, one might have $2,000,000 in liability insurance, and another might have $5,000,000 in liability…and that’s just one variable. We always recommend that you not only compare apples to apples but that you also reach out to your insurance broker and ask them about what they would recommend for contractor insurance.

In Canada, there are associations like HRAI in which all contractor members must have valid insurance. So you can always choose to work with contractors that are HRAI members. In the U.S., the association is called ACCA.

Parts Warranty

The standard for manufacturer part warranty is ten years, but some companies have components with a lifetime warranty while other components get reduced.

It’s not cut and dry so, it’s important that you understand which components are the most important to your system and usually the most expensive to replace.

Main Air Conditioning Components

  1. Compressor
  2. Condenser coil
  3. Evaporator coil
  4. Condenser fan

Main Air Handler and Furnace Components

  1. Control board
  2. Heat exchanger
  3. Blower motor
  4. Blower Fan

You want to make sure that these components have good parts coverage. But, keep in mind that if one of these parts fails, the part will be covered, but the labour may not…make sure to ask your contractor is the parts warranty includes the labour to replace the failed warranty components.

Do you know a contractor that could use some help with their business?

 

Introduce them to Phyxter and earn referral fees…ask us how our affiliate program works.

ASK US HOW

Labour Warranty

Another tricky one. The older the company is, the longer its warranty is, but also the higher their prices are. You’ll really need to balance what’s important to you.

Consider thing like:

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Experience
  • Ratings & Reviews
  • Labour Warranty
  • Are you seeing the pattern here…this entire article is written to help you make the best choice for your needs.

So, just ask yourself…do you want the best quality and the best warranty, or are you willing to sacrifice warranty or quality to get a lower price. There’s no shame in wanting a lower price; you just need to understand that you get what you pay for.

As a starting point, quality contractors generally start their labour warranty at 90 days and then increase it from their…but in the memorable words of Chris Farley in Tommy Boy;

You can take a good look at a T-bone by sticking your head up a bull’s ass, but wouldn’t you rather take the butcher’s word for it?

Ratings & Reviews

When it comes to the new world of business, trust is being built on the backs of ratings and reviews. No matter the experience someone has, the licenses, the warranty, or anything else, if an HVAC contractor has 1,000 five star ratings, most people are going to be confident that they are good at what they do.

We preach to HVAC contractors that providing first-class customer service, fair and transparent pricing, and quality craftsmanship will help them to get great reviews…but not all contractors even ask for reviews. So, in a way, I’m talking out of the side of my mouth, saying that ratings are number one, but that you can still find a great contractor without ratings.

I’m going to use a hockey analogy to describe my thoughts on ratings and reviews; Sydney Crosby gets paid top dollar because everyone knows how good he is, but he’s been around for a while and has tons of 5-star ratings. But what about an up and comer, someone that’s just as good, but doesn’t have the reputation Sydney has? Well, the fact of the matter is that you’ll be able to pick him up for less. Tying this to contractors, you can get great contractors for a lower price, but as they get more and more reviews, they’ll attract more customers and thus be able to charge more for their time.

Now, hockey has hoards of scouts that go out and learn as much as they can about new hockey players, and that’s what gives a team confidence when it comes to hiring one..but you don’t have scouts, do you? Well, that’s where companies like Phyxter come in, to help you make smart decisions when it comes to hiring a contractor…let us be your scouting team.

Schedule or Availability

Scheduling an HVAC contractor has the stereotype of being a nightmare. What day, what time, will they show up on time…or do they say “I’ll be there between 8 am and 5 pm?”.  Well, one of the things most people know but don’t understand is that contractors are in short supply, which means they have a lot of customers pulling on them from every direction, but you’re right, how’s that your problem. It’s not your problem, but it is important to understand when hiring a contractor and setting up the job schedule and expectations. For example, most contractors want to be paid a portion upfront, a portion in the middle of the job, and a portion at the end of the job. Our recommendation is to tie those payments to not only how complete the job is, but also the timeline. You could easily say, “I’ll give you 20% upfront, 20% when you complete the job to this point by this date, and if you don’t complete it by that date, then that 20% gets pushed to the next payment schedule.”. If an HVAC contractor is confident that they’ll be able to keep the schedule, then they won’t have a problem agreeing to the terms. With all of that said, you do need to understand that the contractor will want the material expenses covered as soon as possible, so if you can do that while holding them to a timeline, then both parties will see the terms as a win.

Product Brands

One of the most asked questions when it comes to purchasing a new furnace or air conditioning system is “What are the best brands?”.

If a furnace or air conditioning contractor tries to tell you which brand or unit is the best before finding out what your needs are, then you should run. When it comes to deciding on a brand, there are so many considerations it’ll make your head spin.

Here are a few to get started:

  • Where is it manufactured – this is really a preference variable…some people like to buy locally made products, and others don’t care. My personal opinion is to buy local, the product and support will have more care put into it, and you’ll be keeping your money in your community.
  • Are spare parts readily available – you might be able to save a thousand dollars buying a particular brand, but when it breaks down, you’ll need parts quick…and it’s common knowledge that some brands are better than others at stocking spare inventory. Ask each of the contractors you talk to how their suppliers are at stocking HVAC spare parts and see if a particular brand stands out as the best.
  • What is the efficiency rating- you might be purchasing a natural gas furnace, or maybe a propane, electric, or oil-fired furnace, and although the efficiency rating is important, you also need to weight in the cost of the fuel. I know that most people in my home town use natural gas because it’s cheaper, even though electric is considered more efficient, it would be significantly more expensive to run (in my home town).
  • Manufacturer ratings & reviews – this is pretty basic but should still be checked. And don’t just read the good reviews, read the bad ones to see how the manufacturer responded to the negative review…that can say a lot for how they deal with customer service issues.
  • Price – this is completely based on your preference, you might be more comfortable buying a brand name like Carrier or Trane and willing to pay extra for it…that’s up to you. Don’t get me wrong; they have some incredible units that are definitely worth the investment, but as smart as it would have been to invest $1,000,000 in Amazon 20 years ago, I didn’t have $1,000,000 to invest…so buy the best product you can for the price you can afford.
  • Model number (will it be discontinued) – just ask your contractors how often new models come out. This isn’t a huge variable, but it could sway your decision. For example, what if a particular refrigerant is getting phased out, and next year, all A/C systems will be using a new refrigerant…you might want to know that before buying a system that is going to out of date in a year.
  • Quality – the answers you get on this question will almost always be biased. So, ask as many people as possible, check as many websites as you can, and make a decision based on what you’ve learned…don’t just trust one person.
  • Warranty – this isn’t just a timeframe, there’s a difference between “10-year warranty” and “10-year warranty on major components”. Talk to your contractor options about what’s included in the warranty.

Now, you need to weight each of those variables yourself to determine what’s best, but the contractor should be able to help you make a smart decision. Most contractors sell both premium and budget brands so make sure to ask what the pros and cons are for each.

Do you know a contractor that could use some help with their business?

 

Introduce them to Phyxter and earn referral fees…ask us how our affiliate program works.

ASK US HOW

Contractor Location

Where is the contractor located? This may not seem that important to you as the customer, because why would you care how long it takes them to get to your place; because although it may not show in the quote, I promise the contractor has accounted for it. Another reason to consider their location is when you have a problem and need them to come and repair it under warranty; it’s going to take them a lot longer to get to your place to get the system repaired. All in all, it’s important that a contractor drives as little as possible, they’ll be more productive and profitable, and those savings will be passed on to their customers. Plus, buying local keeps money local, which is good for your community.

Summary

We’ve given you a solid overview of the variables you should consider before hiring a contractor, and hopefully, you’ll be able to use them before going out for quotes. If there is one thing I would want you to remember, it’s that you will have no idea if you’re getting a good deal or a good product if you don’t get multiple quotes and review each of the contractor’s profiles thoroughly.

We believe that the Phyxter App is the best way to not only get multiple quotes from local contractors but also the best way to compare their profiles. Contractors on Phyxter have the option to get credential checks, background checks, ratings and reviews, and they can post all of their certifications. If you’re still not sure who to hire, reach out to our support team and we will help you make a smart decision.