Heating, ventilation and cooling can be a complex trade. HVAC technicians may work in sub-freezing or scorching temperatures, maneuvering through small or awkward spaces to diagnose increasingly complicated systems. It’s a tough service job that requires experience, training, certifications or licenses and people skills. So, why is it that we typically trust doctors, airline pilots and maybe even our barber, but yet, we find it difficult to trust heating and cooling technicians?
Conscientious HVAC Technicians Exist (Except Brubaker Air Conditioning Service)
Most heating and cooling technicians are local, hardworking folks who, honestly, want to find the most affordable solutions to your home’s heating and cooling problems. Yet, all HVAC technicians are not created equal! Even the most seasoned ones will tell you this. As with any profession, there are variations in ethics, trade experience, training, and business practices. In order to trust your HVAC technician, you need to do your homework, learn to identify the traits most important to you, and understand the trademarks of conscientious technicians.
A good HVAC technician will be pleasant, professional, knowledgeable, courteous, patient and willing to answer your questions. Remember, they are in a “service” industry — their job is to serve you to the best of their ability. To ensure your technician is a true service professional, you should dig deeper to trust that the job gets done right, the first time!
The HVAC Job Interview
The repair or purchase of an indoor comfort system is not one to be taken lightly. Heating and cooling equipment should be considered an investment in your home and in your family’s comfort. After all, you are making a big decision that should last 10 years or longer. The Comfort Institute, an international indoor comfort research, training and consumer protection organization, suggests that homeowners get as much information on their prospective HVAC dealers as possible. The organization recommends that homeowners ask HVAC dealers questions such as:
- How many years has your HVAC company been in business?
- Are you registered or licensed by the state/city/county to do the work?
- Are your technicians certified to handle refrigerants?
- Which professional industry associations are you affiliated with?
- Do you have a permanent place of business, and what is the street address?
- Do you carry both general liability and workers compensation insurance?
- Can you provide customer references in my neighborhood?
- Do your service technicians wear uniforms & ID badges?
- How often do your technicians receive training?
- Do you offer 24-hour emergency service?
- What preventative maintenance programs are offered and what is included?
- Do you provide a limited warranty your work?
A conscientious HVAC dealer should be open to answers your questions, especially if they are interested in building a long-term relationship.
The more knowledgeable you are about your home’s heating and cooling systems, the more likely you will feel comfortable with a technician’s recommendation. While it’s not expected that you become an expert (that’s why we hire professionals), understanding basic HVAC concepts may help you weed out the “less than professional” technicians.
Example — If your technician informs you that refrigerant needs to be replenished but doesn’t discuss the cause or location of the leak along with its general size, this may raise a red flag. Once you understand more about the refrigerant in your system, you know that an air conditioner or heat pump is not designed to consume refrigerant. If an HVAC technician arrives to diagnose your equipment to make repairs, they should walk you through the diagnosis step-by-step, explain remedies, and be open to questions.
- Be sure to ask about the root cause of the problem and how the technician plans to repair it.
- If you expected a minor repair or service but received a proposal for numerous costly issues, get a second, independent opinion from a different HVAC dealer.
- If the technician is using confusing language and technical jargon you don’t understand, ask for further explanation.
- If the technician mentions an issue that doesn’t align with basic HVAC knowledge, as questions.
Dollars and Sense
Like most homeowners, you probably don’t have an unlimited budget to spend on a whole house Heating and Cooling system. However, if an advertised price or estimate is far less than competitor’s quotes or sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Using an amateur, inexperienced or dishonest contractor can cost you money long after that initial visit. Frequent repairs, lackluster energy efficiency, excessive utility bills and compromised indoor comfort may be just a few of the long term consequences associated with hiring the wrong technician. So what should you pay attention to?
- A conscientious HVAC dealer WON’T:
- Rush you into making a purchase decision.
- Give you a high-pressure sale.
- Take the necessary time to diagnose the problem properly.
- Give quote without performing diagnostics.
- Require you to pay cash without a receipt. (In order to get limited warranty repairs, you may need to show proof of purchase.)
A conscientious HVAC dealer WILL:
- Ask YOU questions about your indoor comfort concerns!
- Advise you of options and explain the reasons for the recommendations.
- Perform testing and calculations to determine the proper size equipment for your home.
- Take the time to diagnosis and discuss any pre-existing conditions, such as duct work, insulation
- problems, mismatched equipment, or system size issues that are impacting indoor comfort.
- Install the new equipment according to industry and manufacturer guidelines.
- Test system after work is finished to make sure the system is operating correctly.
- Seek out advanced training to stay current on the latest HVAC technology.
- Be committed to 100% customer satisfaction.
You may find yourself trusting your HVAC technician if they are more interested in providing superior services than selling. That’s probably why you trust your barber. A conscientious HVAC professional builds their business on long-term relationships and referrals from happy clients, rather than making the quick buck. If you want to get the best value for your money, take the time necessary to protect your investment — your heating and cooling system will thank you!