When you walk into a hair salon, it’s reassuring to see the certificate on the wall that guarantees your hairdresser is professionally educated, so you can be confident you won’t be hiding under a hat for the next month.
When it comes to choosing a qualified HVAC service provider for your business, selecting a provider with no professional credentials based solely on price would be like letting your friend’s sister cut your hair–but with more expensive and potentially dangerous consequences.
The cost of choosing the wrong provider
Selecting a certified HVAC service provider means you get someone with the education and experience to do the job right. If the job is done wrong, it can cost your business on many levels:
- Improperly maintained equipment loses efficiency, resulting in higher energy costs.
- Inefficient systems result in temperature fluctuations that can reduce employee productivity and even drive away customers.
- Failing to properly oversee the system and proactively perform preventative maintenance can result in much more costly equipment failures.
- Emergency breakdowns during heat waves or winter storms can mean waiting a long time for a service call, possibly forcing you to close your business and lose revenue.
The challenge of finding the right one
With the proliferation of general contractors, mechanical contractors, equipment manufacturers and HVAC service companies in the market, it can be difficult to determine who is the best qualified to take care of your HVAC system.
According to the Better Business Bureau, almost 1.5 million inquiries were made about HVAC businesses in 2012, as well as over 4,000 customer complaints. This puts HVAC in the top 10 industries for number of inquiries to the BBB, underscoring the high level of public distrust for businesses servicing air conditioning and heating equipment.
Why are so many people seeking advice about HVAC contractors? There’s a lot more than a haircut at stake: providers are servicing equipment worth thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Contracts are often full of legalese and exclusions that can result in unexpected expenses for repairs that aren’t covered. To make matters worse, the lack of standard licensing requirements means too many homeowners and business owners have bad experiences with unqualified and even fraudulent service providers.
The lack of government standards doesn’t help
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as looking for a state license taped to the wall. The fact is licensing requirements vary widely from state to state. Some states require a specific HVACR license, as well as a general contractor’s license for work over a specified dollar threshold. Some require not only licensed technicians who have passed certification exams, but also verification of business operating capital, surety bonds, proof of insurance, and business net worth. Other states require only mechanical contractor or general contractor licensing, in spite of the fact that these contractors are often unqualified to service equipment despite having installed it.
And some states (including New York and New Jersey) do not require HVAC contractors to be licensed at all, unlike plumbers, electricians and even hairdressers. So unfortunately, that puts the burden on you to determine if an HVAC service provider is truly qualified to maintain and repair a system that is so critical to your company’s bottom line.
Turn to the experts
If state licensing isn’t going to help you, how can you properly vet potential HVAC service providers? Fortunately, there are several industry-standard certifications that set the true professionals apart:
- EPA 608 Certification
- MSCA (Mechanical Service Contractors of America) STAR Certification
- NATE (North American Technical Excellence) Certification
- Excellence Certification
EPA 608 Certification is required by the US Environmental Protection Agency for technicians who perform maintenance and repair services and disposal of refrigerants that result in the release of chemicals inside the appliance to the atmosphere. To get this certification, a technician must undergo 6 months to 2 years of training and pass a certification exam. A service provider cannot legally buy refrigerants without this credential.
MSCA STAR, NATE, and Excellence are certifications offered by reputable, nationally-recognized professional associations in the HVAC industry. These certifications validate a technician’s knowledge with educational requirements, rigorous certification exams, and hands-on field experience requirements.
MSCA STAR Certification is one of the most respected certifications in the industry, awarded to outstanding contractors who have demonstrated industry-leading practices in safety, training and customer service, along with having certified technicians. To obtain the STAR certification, technicians must:
- Complete an intensive, five-year education program that includes 1,200 hours of classroom training and hands-on apprenticeship training. It is the only HVACR technician certification program that is ANSI-approved and ISO 9000 certified.
- Pass a rigorous certification exam, and pass a re-certification exam every 5 years.
- Have all references and work history independent verified.
- Agree to abide by a code of conduct.
All Arista Technicians are required to be MSCA STAR Certified, which means you can expect top-notch workmanship from the industry’s most highly skilled technicians. As a business owner or facility manager, you will enjoy peace of mind knowing that your HVAC service contractor understands your needs, has a proven track record of success, keeps up with the latest equipment technologies, and has holds to the highest safety standards in the industry.
Interested in learning how you can transition to a more qualified service provider that can improve the performance of your HVAC system? Download our guide to Contract Confidence: Transitioning to a New HVAC Service Provider.