Top 7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an HVAC Technician
So, you’ve decided that you need to hire an HVAC technician. While the world is filled with really great contractors and companies who do excellent HVAC work, there are also a lot of dishonest technicians who will do their best to rip you off.
Unfortunately, the difference between these two types of companies isn’t always clear from the beginning. To find out which type of service you’re potentially dealing with, it’s important that you do your research, know what you’re talking about, and ask the right questions before signing any paperwork.
If you do that, you’ll likely have a good experience with your HVAC work. So, how do you know which questions you should ask your HVAC technician?
We’re going to tell you.
The top questions:
1 – What are the Technician’s Qualifications?
The first thing to check with prospective HVAC technicians is whether they have the proper qualifications to do the work they say they’re going to do. Although this seems straightforward, there are a lot of fly by night technicians out there who don’t have the qualifications necessary to be doing the work that they’re doing.
In most states around the country, technicians are required to have a certain amount of on-the-job training in the HVAC field. Usually, the requirements range from 2-5 years. During this time, they gain important knowledge in how electrical wiring, refrigerant, combustion systems, and air flow all work together in a range of HVAC systems.
In addition, this on-the-job training is meant to help them learn proper safety procedures and precautions. If your technician doesn’t have the proper knowledge of home ventilation and exhaust systems, you run the risk of suffering health risks like carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be lethal.
Along with the on-the-job training, most states also require HVAC technicians to hold a valid license. If you need to check whether or not your technician has their license, there is often an online directory system in your state to check. Georgia has it’s own official licensing verification lookup page. Many cities and municipalities also offer this service as well so that you can look up contractors in your local area.
As HVAC work frequently involves plumbing maintenance, an HVAC technician may also be required to hold a plumbing license (or keep a plumber on call). So, be sure to check your state’s requirements and what license your technician has.
2 – Do They Offer a Reasonable Price Quote?
Often, deciding on an HVAC technician comes down to the price. With the high cost of installing and repairing an HVAC system, you want to make sure that you get it right the first time around.
To ensure that you’re getting the most accurate price quote possible, you should always get at least three estimates from three different companies. Doing so helps you determine if one company is leaving something out or providing an extra service as a bonus.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should just go for the technician that provides the cheapest estimate. If someone is putting in a low ball bid, that should raise some red flags for you. It’s better to pay a little bit more money for a higher quality technician so that you don’t have to pay to have the work done again in a year or two.
3 – Can They Document The Problems?
When working with an HVAC technician, it’s important that you have documentation at every single step of the way. From the time that you initiate contact with a technician until the time that the project is finished, you should be documenting everything.
On top of that, you should ensure that your HVAC technician has their own system in place for documenting the process. Whether it be by logging data in a computer spreadsheet or an old-fashioned notepad, watch them to ensure they record information accurately. If a technician can sit down and explain exactly how they’ll document issues and keep you up to date, it’s likely that they’re trustworthy. Often, fraudulent scam services will claim there’s a busted pipe or mold deep in the ductwork but provide no proof to substantiate it.
4 – Can They Give Me an Estimated Time of Completion?
If you go through bad reviews of contractors, one of the most common complaints that you’ll see is that they did not complete the work within the timeframe that they said they would. That’s why it’s so important for you to establish a detailed timeline of job completion with your technician.
A good contractor will walk you through the details, set up various milestones, and will guarantee completion by a certain date. If they seem iffy on dates, you may want to consider using a different contractor. This should also include a service contract that ensures that the HVAC company will come back at regular intervals to service the unit that they installed.
You should also have a clear timeline for payments. If you need to set up a payment plan or use an HVAC company’s line of credit, you should take the time to understand the details and fine print.
5 – Can They Provide Up-to-date References?
A reputable company will likely offer to show your references without even asking. However, you should always ask in the event that they don’t. They should also provide you with the contact information for these clients so that you can call them to discuss their project.
Unfortunately, many people don’t actually use the contact information that they receive. To make the most informed decision possible, you should contact a few of the references to get a better feel for the opinion of the company.
Aside from the references that they provide, you can also check a range of sources online to see whether or not they have reviews. Even if a company doesn’t have great reviews, you should read the actual comments. Sometimes, people leave a low rating with positive comments.
6 – Are They Willing to Visit My Home for an Inspection?
Is the HVAC technician coming out to your house to inspect the issues before creating a service plan? If they’re willing to give you a quote over the phone, that should be a red flag for you. Just like no two cars are the same, no two HVAC units are the same either. There are just too many factors to consider when trying to diagnose an HVAC issue that it’s nearly impossible to do accurately over the phone.
They need to see the layout of your ductwork, the amount of registers in each room, the type of insulation that you have, your windows, and a range of other factors. Your technician then needs to run tests on your HVAC unit itself, something that definitely can’t be done over the phone.
Someone who is giving you a bid over the phone is either an inexperienced technician or someone who’s lazy and doesn’t want to use their time and gas on a visit. However, you should also be mindful of what the technician does once they arrive at your house.
If they give you a bid within five minutes of being there, they likely haven’t done the required work to really know what they need to do. A trustworthy technician will likely be doing things like crawling around in your attic, getting into crawl spaces, and walking around the entire house. If they aren’t doing any of these things, they likely aren’t properly inspecting your house for their calculations.