Most building managers and property owners rely on the expertise of professionals when it comes to maintaining commercial HVAC systems. Considering the sophistication of today’s systems and the ever-growing list of responsibilities associated with being a building manager or owner, it’s only logical to delegate system issues to the certified technicians who have the experience and know-how it takes to address them.
However, for many people, establishing a maintenance contract with an HVAC service provider can feel as though you’re being taken for a ride–especially here in New York City. Whether you’re wading through complicated legalese, unsure about what your contract actually entitles you to, or simply aren’t satisfied with your service, it’s important to understand what to look for to ensure you’re getting the best quality service, labor and equipment available to you. Here are a few key points to consider:
- Request proof of license. HVAC contractors require certain licensing at the state and local level. When first consulting with a company, make sure to ask for their qualifications and ensure that they carry the proper certification. Many manufacturers’ warranties will not cover parts serviced by an unlicensed repairman. As such, a respectable contractor is happy to show you all licenses and will comply with all relevant regulations. They will also demonstrate that they maintain required levels of insurance, including worker’s compensation and liability.
- Ask for a sample contract. A true professional should be willing to take the time to help you get a handle on your current system and what to expect from your provider. And service provider who genuinely has its customers’ best interest in mind, will provide clear terms and explanations in their service contract. Pay particular attention to the termination clauses. Most reputable HVAC companies will allow you to terminate your contract with 30 days written notice.
- Make sure you understand what repairs are being performed before service is completed. While you may need to be an expert to perform basic repairs, you don’t need to be one to understand basic repairs. A qualified expert should show you exactly where your system is suffering wear and tear, and explain the reasons for part replacement. Likewise, if your HVAC technician recommends installing new equipment without offering an explanation as to why your existing system is inoperable, consider that a red flag. In most cases–even with components that haven’t always been regularly maintained–you won’t be looking at a complete overhaul to keep your HVAC equipment running properly.
- Get an independent HVAC system and maintenance review. If you’re concerned about your current provider’s work, the best way to ensure you’re getting the level of service you’re contract stipulates (and you expect) is to schedule an independent HVAC system review. Similar to a home inspector’s role, an independent HVAC professional will conduct a thorough review of your HVAC system and the condition of its mechanical systems.
As a business owner or property manager, it can sometimes feel like everyone wants your time, money, or both. Carefully considering the 4 points above can help you establish a trusting and lasting relationship with your HVAC service provider so that you can go back to doing what you do best.
Want to learn more about how to transition to a new service provider? Grab a copy of our white paper on Contract Confidence: Transitioning to a New HVAC Service Provider.