HVAC is an abbreviation for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. HVAC/R is sometimes added to include refrigeration systems. An HVAC technician is a person who installs, maintains, and repairs these systems. Most technicians are generally trained in all three or four components of the HVAC abbreviation, yet some may choose to specialize in a single facet of the HVAC category. Others may focus their work strictly on either the installation, maintenance, or repair of these systems. Specific equipment, such as water-based heating systems, solar technology systems, or commercial refrigeration may stand out as their specialty. And like all contractors within the trades, some are more genuine about helping you out than others.
This is why taking the time to research a particular HVAC contractor and technician for your job is vital. One size does not fit all when it comes to HVAC work. Follow our six tips on how to choose the right HVAC Technician on Smile HVAC, and you will be thankful in the long run–both cost and comfort-wise.
1. Licensing, Experience, and Insurance
The person with 25 years of experience vs the person with 5 is not always a no-brainer choice. Finding a company with technicians with an abundant amount of knowledge is a good sign, but not necessarily an instant winner. Be wary of a person who boasts about ‘years and years’ of experience. Inquire about technological progress made in the HVAC world and how up-to-date the training of their technicians are. You want someone who is constantly aware of new issues that rise up within the HVAC industry.
Be sure also to confirm that the company is certified in their specific province. To work in the HV portion in Ontario, you need to earn your Gas Technician level 3 or 2 licenses; for the AC portion, an Air Conditioning Apprenticeship must be obtained, and the successful completion of an exam.
Inquire whether or not the company also has general liability insurance. It protects against financial loss due to a possible accident with the technician or damage caused to a client’s property. Contractors in Ontario are legally obligated to be insured, but it would still be safe and smart to ask about it. If the technician doesn’t have a uniform – it’s also a red flag. Usually, it means it’s a one-person company or a not professional technician.
2. References, Referrals, Reviews
Google is an excellent resource for researching reviews of HVAC companies. Look up at least three separate companies offering HVAC services and compare and contrast their ratings on Facebook, and Google itself. Yelp can be tricky, as there is no way of identifying whether or not a review is fake. You can directly ask each company for at least three customer reviews, then inquire whether or not the jobs were done timely and within the requested budget. You can also ask your trusted friends about companies they have experience with and trust.
3. Home Evaluation
Do not go with a company that wants to give you a verbal estimate over the phone. The potential contractors must offer a thorough home evaluation to determine the best option for you. Many specific factors must be taken into consideration that cannot be done without visiting the home itself. Once the evaluation is complete, be sure to get a written and specified estimate that you can compare with other proposals you have received.
Multiple factors should be considered within a home evaluation. Try to pay attention to the written assessment offered after the physical evaluation and be sure to notice whether or not the following is taken into consideration:
- Square footage.
- A number of windows and the direction they are facing.
- Duct system for leaks.
- Loose insulation and segments.
Ultimately, it is not your job to understand all of the HVAC jargon. But do not let a technician try to exclude you from the process by throwing specific terms and words your way. It may be their way of throwing you off and expecting you to trust them.
4. Warranties, Refunds, and Special Offers
Having an HVAC system installed or repaired is going to make a big dent in your wallet, so it would be prudent to shop around for a company that offers the right rebates, refunds, and warranties. Look deep into the fine print of warranties, as multiple forms of them exist, such as an equipment warranty and labor warranty. Utilize people in your life who you trust and inquire about their experience with HVAC systems and important warranties attached to them. If the company is not-insured is a big red flag you need to avoid. In this case, you’re risking to pay money if the company make some mistakes during the installation or repair.
Your HVAC system is expensive, so you want it to be work correctly and efficiently. Look for the Energy Star in Canada as there are more than 80 products qualified on their line. Look for specific calculations from your technician on how much you will save when choosing their service and brand. It also makes sense to buy a two-stage furnace as it’s more efficient. A two-stage furnace can save you up to $400 per year.
6. Avoid the Lowest Bidder
Saving money is tempting, but try to see the bigger picture when it comes to your HVAC system. The goal is for it to last a long time and continue to be as efficient as the first day it was installed, so it is likely going to cost a fair amount. Finding a trustworthy company and technician will be more worthwhile in the long run, even if they are more costly. A low bidder may end up costing you more over time due to their lack of experience, licensing, and insurance. Please pay attention to very low bidders and be sure to vet them before going through with the job. You will save yourself a lot of heartaches.