We have been discussing 20 important questions to ask any contractor that you are seriously considering hiring to perform work installing or replacing the heating and air conditioning system in your home. The first part in this series examined why it is important to carefully choose a contractor, and explained the first 4 questions. The second part explained questions 5 to 12. Now we’ll wrap it up by examining questions 13 to 20.
- Do you have someone to handle potential customer care situations 24/7? It is one thing to have an answering service, but it is a very different thing to have a skilled technician on standby 24/7 to care for your needs. Even the best installations may have bugs to work out. What if the problem shows up a few days later on the weekend or a holiday? You want to be sure your contractor has the resources to attend to your problem when it matters to you, not just when it is convenient for them.
- Will you guarantee that the price quoted will be the final price, even if you overlooked something? Does this seem like a silly question? Don’t fool yourself. Without getting a guarantee like this in writing, it leaves your agreement open to the possibility of your contractor coming up with a reason to charge you more. No matter how legitimate their reason may sound, the truth is a professional contractor will have already examined the situation specific to your home, AND have the experience to anticipate problems. There is no reason the price should ever be raised after you sign the dotted line.
- Will all work meet or exceed existing codes and will you be pulling a permit? Building codes vary from region to region. A professional contractor will not overlook legal fees or permits to do the work. Why is this important? If there is a fire in your home later that can be traced back to a violation in established codes, your homeowner’s insurance likely will not cover the damage. They are sticklers for legal things, and you should be too.
- Do you use DOE endorsed written installation, start-up, and warranty management procedures? A central heating and air system is not a plug-n-play system like a modern entertainment center. They have to be installed correctly, AND started up correctly, according to manufacturer’s guidelines. If you ask to see your contractors written startup procedures and they start to spin a yarn, beware!
- Will you do a whole-house “Manual J” load calculation and duct distribution analysis? We discussed the importance of a “Manual J” load calculation in an earlier blog post. But to sum it up, a contractor that does a “Manual J” will be more careful to install a system that is truly sized correctly for your home. An oversized system, or a ductwork distribution that is inadequate wastes money and energy. Avoid this, and the resulting long-term dissatisfaction by requiring your potential contractor to do “Manual J” and duct sizing calculation.
- Is any maintenance included? A brand-spankin’ new system cannot be ignored with the passing of time. Maintenance is essential to keep it working as it should. So find out what your contractor offers. Of course getting some maintenance visits built into your price of installation is a nice perk, but the key is whether they perform maintenance. Avoid the contractor that will take a hands-off approach after they walk away from the completed job.
- Will you use a "sound dampening system?" Most modern units include features that help to reduce the noise you hear in your home while your central heating and cooling system is on. But the key word is “MOST” units. There are some low-end very inexpensive units that don’t have such features. And there are methods of installation that if ignored or done incorrectly will result in years of you thinking “if only...”.
- Are you authorized to provide the equipment manufacturer’s recommended repairs? There will come a time when your new heating and AC system will need a repair. When that time comes, you want someone who knows how to work on your brand of heating and cooling system, and is authorized to provide whatever warranty service work comes with your equipment. To ensure your equipment is back up and running quickly, get proof of being an authorized dealer in writing!
We hope this has helped. If you are in the process of searching for a reliable and professional heating and air contractor these questions will give you more confidence to pick someone trustworthy.
Don’t forget to give the knowledgeable staff at GAMA Air a try. We offer free estimates on central heating and cooling system installations or change-outs. Give us a call at (310) 651-6936, or use our online form to schedule a free visit that is convenient to you. We 100% guarantee your satisfaction.
But our helpfulness doesn’t stop there. Is there something else on your mind? Visit our “Ask an Expert” page, fill out the form, and our resident expert will get back to you on the double.