What To Ask a Contractor?
Most people take for granted the comfort
provided by their central air conditioner, heat pump or furnace
until something goes wrong and the unit needs to be serviced or
replaced. When this happens itís important to contact a quality
heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR)
Contractor who is knowledgeable, skilled and qualified to do the
The HVACR industry is highly technical
and can be frightening to those that know nothing about how the
equipment works in their home. Itís important that consumers are
as educated about the product they are buying or having
serviced. The first step is to understand what is required of
the contractor that is being called - required by the local
jurisdiction, state, and industry.
In insure satisfaction, the following
are questions that should be asked of a prospective HVACR
Check local licenses and for proof
of insurance. Florida requires all contractors to be
licensed. Donít just take their verbal word - ask to see a
copy of the license (at the minimum ask for the license
number.) Also, check insurance forms for liability and
workersí compensation insurance.
Check Credentials. Before
making your selection, call the Better Business Bureau to make
sure the dealer is reputable. Also, find out if the contractor
is a member of the local or national association such as the
Palm Beach Air Conditioning Contractors Association, Inc.
Ask for references. Former
customers are an excellent source of information. Also, ask to
see installation photos. A contractor that is proud of his
work will be more than happy to show it to you.
Are your technicians CFC certified?
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs),
used as air conditioning and heat pump refrigerant, have been
linked to the destruction of the earthís ozone layer. A
quality contractor wonít release refrigerant into the
atmosphere. They will be certain that any technicians working
with refrigerant will have a certification mandated by EPA
showing that he/she is trained and certified in the proper
techniques for recovering, recycling, reclaiming and disposing
of used refrigerant - ask to see a copy of the certification
card (it needs to say EPA approved program)
Get a written proposal. To make
a fair comparison, make sure the proposals you receive are all
based on the same efficiency and equipment. Youíll also want
to evaluate each contractorís personal business standards and
policies. For example, will he remove old equipment? Will he
relocate equipment if you want your new system installed in a
different location? What are his clean up and care policies
during installation? How will be handle emergency repairs?
These are just a few of the additional elements a good
proposal will include.
Expect an on-site evaluation of
your home. A good contractor will take a thorough look at
your home, ask questions and evaluate your overall comfort
needs before making a recommendation. Beware of a contractor
that simply takes information over the phone. A good
contractor will also look the part. While he/she is evaluating
your home, you should be evaluating him/her. Not only should
he/she dress professionally, but the company truck and printed
materials should look professional as well.
Donít be afraid to ask questions.
Ask for details about the firmís experience and the
expertise of its staff. This is particularly important if
youíre also adding and hanging ductwork - in this case,
experience is definitely a factor in getting the job done
correctly. Installation is just as important as equipment type
in order to maintain maximum energy efficiency and equipment
Inquire about equipment and labor
warranties. Limited warranties vary according to the
manufacturer, so make sure you fully understand what youíre
getting. Also, donít forget to inquire about manufacturerís
extended warranties at the time of purchase and other
warranties provided by the contractor.
Ask about preventive maintenance
service contracts. Many contractors offer service
contracts that call for periodic maintenance of equipment, and
if needed, repairs. The fee for such contracts is usually well
worth it in terms of obtaining optimum efficiency and
performance for your system.
Finally, insist on a written
contract. Commit your agreement to writing and have the
contractor sign it.
(Information provided by Palm Beach Air
Conditioning Contractors Association, Inc. (PBACCA) 561-585-3880)
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