Don’t Hire An HVAC Company Without Checking These 8 Things
As a Facilities Manager, you’re dealing with many different service providers for your company. Yet choosing an HVAC company can be one of the most challenging, especially if you don’t happen to be an HVAC expert yourself.
Obviously, you want an HVAC company with the expertise to solve your heating and cooling issues quickly and reliably. But you also want a company that offers great customer service and is easy to do business with. How can you find all these qualities? Ask about these 8 things when you evaluate a prospective HVAC provider for service, installation and/or repair work.
8 Things To Check Before Hiring an HVAC Company for the First Time
1. Certified and screened employees
Checking credentials is one way to be sure an HVAC company’s technicians have the technical know-how to do the job and do it well. If your state requires HVAC technicians to be licensed, that’s an easy thing to check. It gets a little more tricky in states (such as New York) that don’t have licensing for HVAC contractors. In that case, you need to look for industry-standard certifications and screenings to verify that technicians are properly trained and trustworthy:
- EPA 608 Certification is a must for anyone handling refrigerants
- MSCA (Mechanical Service Contractors of America) STAR Certification verifies that technicians have completed an intensive education program, have passed a certification exam recently and have completed 3 years of on-the-job training or internships.
- Background checks ensure that no technician sent to your site has a criminal record. Make sure that the HVAC company checks all technicians and helpers who could have access to your equipment and facility.
2. Insurance coverage
Never hire an HVAC company that does not carry adequate general liability insurance as well as worker’s compensation coverage. The insurance protects you if a technician does anything (or fails to do something) that causes damage to your property, or the injury of an employee or customer at your site. Worker’s compensation makes sure you won’t be responsible for a claim if a technician is injured on your property.
3. Understanding of local building codes
Particularly when hiring an HVAC company to do an installation, it’s critical that they understand the building codes for your city and any legal requirements for working with equipment. Even better, look for a company that takes care of paperwork and obtaining the necessary permits when you make changes. When the HVAC company is responsible for the permits, you can be sure they will do the work to code. Not only does this save you time, but you’ll avoid failed inspections, delays and the cost of having sub-par work corrected.
4. Access to parts & equipment
You need the work done fast, and you need it done right. Well, that means choosing an HVAC company that uses the latest time-saving tools, such as leak detectors, anemometers, vacuum pumps, gauges and charging scales. It also means choosing an HVAC company that has access to parts. It doesn’t do you much good if the technician shows up the same day you call about a problem, but it takes 3 days to get the part. Look for a company that carries many common parts on the truck, and deals with several large local warehouses to get parts fast.
5. Use of technology
When your HVAC company uses these time-saving technologies, it means faster response times and better service for you:
- Mobile devices (such as tablets or smart phones) to access work orders, parts information, and your customer file and service history
- GPS and automated fleet management systems that allow the HVAC company to track the location and ETA of each vehicle.
- Servicechannel.com is an enterprise facilities management system. If your company uses ServiceChannel, you’ll save a great deal of time and paperwork when you choose an HVAC company that can work with this system to obtain work orders, equipment service history, and even invoicing.
When you are managing a large facility, you’re probably under pressure to reduce the costs associated with building systems. Energy expenditures are often at the top of the list. While you can’t control the price of gas or electricity, you can control how much you use, and that’s where the right HVAC company can help. They can recommend new energy-efficient equipment that can also increase comfort, suggest retrofits for older systems to reduce costs, and show you how to save even more with regular maintenance.
7. Strategic thinking
It pays to keep track of the age and expected life span of all your installed HVAC equipment, so you can plan for equipment obsolescence in your yearly budgeting process. Choose an HVAC company that will get to know you and the needs of your business, and take the time to help you budget for new capital expenditures in advance. That way you’re not scrambling when things break down, and you look great to your superiors when you prevent downtime.
8. Commitment to safety
The HVAC company you choose should make safety a priority. The first time a technician works at your site, it’s a good idea to pay attention to his safety practices. Does he take precautions to minimize the hazards of working with electricity and refrigerants? Does he handle tools safely? Ask the HVAC company about their practices to prevent carbon monoxide leaks and refrigerant leaks, as well as procedures for preventing accidents.
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Are you thinking about changing your HVAC company, but worried about the hassle of switching? It’s really not as difficult as you imagine if you understand how to make the transition. Learn more with this free guide to Contract Confidence: Transitioning to a New HVAC Service Provider.