Few things can disrupt the comfort of your home faster than a broken heater or air conditioner. Replacing either system is a costly and intimidating prospect which requires allowing a technician into your house. But even the very best HVAC system won’t last forever. When it’s time to repair or replace yours, do you know who to call? It’s easy to Google a list of options in your area. It’s harder to know who to trust with such an important task. We recommend considering the following before making your decision.
Credentials & Licensing
Pennsylvania doesn’t require any special licenses to become an HVAC technician. But you should hire a company that encourages or requires technicians to acquire optional local licenses, such as Home Improvement Contractor, Grade B Refrigeration Engineer, and HVAC Contractor or a North American Technician Excellence® (NATE) certification. These licenses prove that a technician has both the training and experience to do an exceptional job. You should also make sure the company you hire has a Pennsylvania business license. Without one you may not be protected if something goes wrong. If an HVAC company refuses to answer your questions about licensing, you should consider that a major red flag.
When vetting a potential HVAC company, you should also ask what insurance they carry. You are trusting this company to send someone to work in your home. As with all contractors, there is always a chance of injury or property damage. The HVAC company you choose should carry workers comp insurance that will cover any injuries to their employees. It should also have general liability insurance to cover any damage to your home. If they don’t, you could be on the hook for any accidents that happen. If an HVAC company doesn’t have insurance or gets upset when you ask this question, you should look elsewhere.
Having the necessary experience and insurance not to wreck your home is a pretty low bar. Of course you want to find a company that’s going to do an exceptional job, not just an adequate one. There are several ways you can evaluate a company’s service. The internet has made it easier than ever to find out what others think of a business. Look at the company’s reviews on Google, Facebook, and Angi. Pay special attention to how the company responds to any mediocre or negative reviews. The internet can be filled with trolls or vengeful customers. How a company responds when they’ve been falsely accused – or when they’ve made a legitimate mistake – shows how they’re likely to react if you aren’t fully satisfied with their work.
But don’t rely solely on what you find online. Ask your friends and family who they’ve used and how their experience has been. Knowing that a particular company has serviced your neighbor’s air conditioner for years and really came through in a jam goes a lot further than reading a few anonymous reviews. If you don’t know anyone who’s used a company you’re interested in, ask them for references for a few customers who had similar work done. When you call those references, ask about their overall experience, whether they would use that company again, and whether the technicians were on time, respectful, completed the job on schedule, and cleaned up after themselves. If a company refuses to provide references, you should think seriously about why that might be.
Willing to Perform a Home Evaluation
HVAC systems are complicated, and no two buildings are exactly the same. Beware of anyone who gives you a quote over the phone without looking at your home. Most reputable companies will want to do an on-site evaluation to determine the size of the job and equipment needs before committing to a price. If they want your business, they should be willing to take the time to assess the scope of the project.
Competitive Pricing (But Not the Lowest Estimate)
Once a HVAC company has completed a home evaluation, they should provide a written estimate with a cost for the project. Chances are, you may even have multiple estimates. While it might be tempting to choose the company with the lowest price, that’s not actually the best idea, especially if one estimate is radically lower than all the others. If someone is doing work for much less than everyone else, they’re not only undercutting the market – they’re probably cutting corners. Or perhaps they don’t have enough experience to properly understand the job. A quality HVAC company is going to charge a reasonable rate for their quality and experience. Remember the adage “you get what you pay for.” That’s not to say you should choose the most expensive option and assume they’ll do the best job. But you should evaluate what each company is charging versus what they’re offering, while keeping in mind everything you’ve learned about their service and experience. Any estimate that is radically higher or lower than the others may be cause for concern.
Experience and Guarantees
Experience comes in many forms. While you may be more comfortable with a company that’s been around for 30 years rather than 3, everyone does have to start somewhere. But even a company that’s been around for a long time can have blind spots. Some companies may be pros at minor repairs and annual tune-ups, but have little experience with a complex system install. The more complicated your job, the deeper you should dig to ensure the company you choose knows how to complete the work well, on time, and on budget. Sometimes their website will make it clear the type of work they do. If their website isn’t very detailed, don’t be afraid to ask when they’d last completed a similar job (and get a reference!).
The best companies will stand by the quality of their work and should offer some guarantee. If they balk at this, so should you.
Are they Available 24/7?
HVAC emergencies happen at the most inconvenient times. When you hire an HVAC company, it’s good to know how quickly they’ll respond when you have a problem. Ask if they have an emergency service number or a way to contact them outside normal business hours. While this need not be a dealbreaker, it can go a long way toward your peace of mind. Even if you’re hiring them now to install a new system, there will come a day when it isn’t working as it should.
Your goal should be to find an HVAC company you trust enough to go to consistently, for regular maintenance and minor issues as well as any eventual replacements. You can learn a lot about a company’s integrity, industry knowledge, experience, and customer service by doing your research and asking the right questions of the company and their references. If something feels shady, trust your gut, and don’t be won over by a low estimate if anything else feels wrong. A reputable company like Reliance Heating and Air Conditioning, LLC will be happy to answer your questions and stand by their work.
If you’re located in Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, Montgomery County, Bucks County, and the greater northern Philadelphia area, consider Reliance Heating & Air for your heating and air conditioning replacements and repairs. With more than 14 years of experience, we offer 24/7 emergency service, maintenance plans to extend the life of your systems, and a quality guarantee.
Contact Reliance today for all your heating and air conditioning needs!