If your HVAC system is a decade or more old, you may be planning to replace it sometime within the next several years. However, if it is new, your concerns are likely different, such as making sure it stays in good working order. The best way to make sure your unit continues to run at peak efficiency is to schedule an appointment for annual maintenance and repairs. Whichever category you find yourself in, you will eventually need the services of an HVAC technician. Below are five things to consider when searching for a professional of this kind:
1. Experience and Licensing
Your home’s most expensive piece of equipment is likely your HVAC system, and you want to make sure that whoever completes work on it has the proper experience, training, and holds the appropriate license. HVAC contractors are required to hold a license in the state of Ohio. To acquire this license, the person must have five years of experience in the field before filling out and submitting a license application. Additionally, the company for whom he or she works must hold a minimum level of insurance and bonding. Insurance must be in place to protect the property owner in case accidental damage or injuries occur.
It is also wise to inquire about any prospective contractor’s level of experience. Although there are many factors in addition to longevity that affect the quality of a contractor’s work, stability in the HVAC industry is a good sign. You should also ask each technician about his or her certification and whether or not the contractor is certified through the North American Technician Excellence organization-NATE. Membership in NATE is usually a sign that the contractor’s experience and education are up-to-date.
A technician’s training is comprehensive, but among some of the most important areas of learning are how to handle refrigerant properly and how to complete air balancing. In the Clean Air Act, under section 608, those who are not appropriately certified should never handle refrigerant. This is especially important about the ongoing switch from R22 refrigerant–Freon–to R-410a. Today’s technicians should also be proficient at testing and balancing air for maximum comfort and efficiency. The National Comfort Institute offers certification for technicians in the area of air balancing, which is essential if you are to keep a comfortable home.
Also, it is a good idea to ask the contractor if he or she is trained with particular brands. This is because each manufacturer and system has unique features, and it is important for technicians to have the appropriate training in order to install various units properly.
2. Home Evaluation
If you require the installation of a new HVAC system, any technician you are considering for the job should be willing to complete a home evaluation to help you decide what your best option is regarding heating and cooling solutions. The R-value of your insulation, square footage of your home, and the number of windows in your dwelling, as well as the direction they face, are all factors that must be considered. The contractor should also inspect the ductwork for insulation, loose segments, and leaks. New systems must also be sized properly, and this is not based on square footage alone, but rather on calculations made by the appropriate industry software.
After the evaluation is complete, an itemized estimate should be offered in writing, so that you can compare energy efficiency, warranties, and costs among different proposals. Never make a decision based on price alone.
3. Referrals and References
Always ask for referrals and references, and call past customers to see if cost-effective work was completed on time by any contractor you are considering. Ask if the installation was performed cleanly and if the homeowner’s property was respected. You should also ask if the contractor tested the system once it was installed. You may also wish to inquire at the Better Business Bureau for more information. Ratings can be checked online as well, but keep in mind that not all reviews are legitimate.
It is also wise to get referrals from coworkers, neighbours, and friends, or consult online services such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America or Angie’s List.
Additionally, a conscientious HVAC technician also shows pride in his or her company: the name should be on all company vehicles and trucks should be clean and in good repair.
4. Special Offers and Rebates
Ask your dealer about specials or shop around for rebates, as the installation of an HVAC system is a major expense. Certain utility companies in Ohio provide specific rebates if you install equipment that is energy-efficient.
Efficiency is essential, and therefore when you are looking for an upgrade, you should choose the most energy-efficient model that is within your budget. Ask your contractor about models rated by Energy Star, the latter of which is a government program developed for the rigorous testing of HVAC equipment and other types of devices.
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