Is it time to look for a new heating and air conditioning company?
If you’re reading this, you probably already suspect that things are not going the way they should be with your current heating and air conditioning company. Have you experienced any of the following signs of declining service?
- Making you wait days for a service call
- Not showing up when they say they will
- Sending untrained technicians that don’t understand your system
- Misdiagnosing problems
- Skimping on preventative maintenance
- Leaving a mess behind
Finding a better heating and air conditioning company
If you’re experiencing lousy response times and sub-par service from your HVAC vendor, you may be putting off “breaking it off” because you feel like they are all the same and making a change to a new heating and air conditioning company won’t help. All the TV news reports that expose dishonest and incapable contractors might give you that impression.
You might also be putting off looking for a new heating and air conditioning company because it feels like such a daunting task to find someone better. How can you tell which of the thousands of HVAC contractors in the New York City area can be counted on to provide great service?
The truth is, there are many qualified, reliable service providers out there, you just need to know how to find the right heating and air conditioning company for your needs. Here’s how to get started.
Where to start your search for a heating and air conditioning company
Before you start Googling to look for a heating and air conditioning company, do these things first:
Look around your neighborhood
Pay attention to the heating and air conditioning company trucks you see around your neighborhood every day. Those companies know your area and its building history. Your neighbors are using them and calling them back again and again, so it’s likely that they are providing quality service.
Also, you’ll probably get good response times from a heating and air conditioning company that’s always in your neighborhood.
Ask around for referrals
Talk to your colleagues and neighbors. This is often one of the best ways to find a good service provider. A recommendation from a commercial business similar to yours is ideal, since their HVAC needs are probably similar as well. If you can’t ask someone with a similar business, ask someone in the same type of building space.
Know how to research on the Internet
Once you get a few names, take a look at their web sites to see what kind of service they offer and if it meets your needs. For example, if your business is a restaurant, you might want a heating and air conditioning company that can also service your refrigeration equipment.
It’s also a great idea to look for reviews on sites like Yelp to see what people are saying about each company.
Ask the right questions to choose the right heating and air conditioning company
Now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty and ask good questions. This is how you’ll weed out a heating and air conditioning company that’s less than qualified. Here’s what to ask about:
1. General liability insurance and workers compensation
This is a deal breaker. Never hire a heating and air conditioning company without adequate insurance. General liability insurance protects your property if the contractor or technician causes any damage to your facility through their action or negligence. This is especially important if your employee or a customer gets injured.
Worker’s compensation protects you in case a contractor’s employee is injured on your property; if the contractor doesn’t have it, you may be responsible for the medical bills.
2. Technician certification
Since New York does not require heating and air conditioning company technicians to be licensed, you need to ask about other credentials to learn how much expertise a vendor’s technicians have.
There are several industry-standard certifications that set the true professionals apart, including:
- EPA 608 Certification
- MSCA (Mechanical Service Contractors of America) STAR Certification
- NATE (North American Technical Excellence) Certification
These certifications validate a technician’s knowledge with training requirements, rigorous certification exams, and hands-on field experience requirements, so you can be sure the employees of the heating and air conditioning company have the education and experience to do the job right.
Check if the heating and air conditioning company handles getting permits when required for a job. Always hire contractors who know the legal requirements and take care of any necessary permits. If they do, you can be sure that the work will be performed to code and done correctly. And you avoid the hassle of failed inspections and getting work corrected later, which can be costly.
4. Work guarantees
Reputable companies should guarantee all installation, service and repair work for a period of one year. This protects you from misdiagnosed problems and poor quality work.
5. Maintenance recommendations
Make sure the heating and air conditioning company you choose makes maintenance a priority. Regular maintenance prevents breakdowns that interrupt business, reduces energy consumption and can extend the life of your system by years.
Avoid contractors who just want to sell and install expensive equipment but don’t want to maintain it later. An expert heating and air conditioning company will recommend regular inspections and a service schedule that’s customized to the requirements of your system and your budget. You will also get the best pricing and response times under a service contract.
Related article: Air Conditioning Maintenance Doesn’t Cost. It Pays.
Comparing heating and air conditioning company bids
When comparing written bids, look at more than the bottom line. It’s often the case that you get what you pay for when you go with the lowest bidder.
Is the contract written so that you can easily understand the terms? A sign of a less-than-reputable or honest heating and air conditioning company is a contract that’s written in legalese so that it’s difficult for you to interpret. You might misunderstand what’s covered and what’s not.
We hope this information has helped make the task of vetting a heating and air conditioning company seem less daunting. You’ll be glad you made the change when you find a company that can provide better service and meet your needs. Using this information as a guide, you’ll soon be in the hands of a more professional service provider that you can count on for years to come.
If you’d like to learn more about making the transition easier, our free guide can help: Contract Confidence: Transitioning to a New HVAC Service Provider.