Selecting a reliable HVAC contractor can be a challenge. Do you simply take the recommendation of friends? Should you select one from the phone book or from an Internet search? Here are some tips for avoiding HVAC contractors who are less than professional:
Ask the Right Questions
Ask prospective HVAC contractors what method they use to determine heating and cooling needs. If they mention “rule of thumb,” give them the thumbs down. The only reliable measures today for calculating heating and cooling loads come from the Manual J Engineering Load Calculation, not some tonnage versus square-footage rule. Also avoid contractors who just want to go by whatever size your old system was.
Another question to ask is how they feel about sizing equipment to increase the rate of heating and cooling. Good HVAC contractors will recommend against this, as a furnace with too large or strong a blower will overwhelm your ductwork. In addition, a central A/C or heat pump that cycles on and off frequently, as a result of being too big, will not dehumidify your home properly, thus wasting fuel and money.
Listen for the Right Questions
Reliable HVAC contractors will not make a recommendations over the phone; they’ll insist on an onsite assessment to consider various factors, such as:
- system size
- existing equipment age
- ductwork (furnace) or hydronics (boiler)
- air leaks (within ducts, along perimeter walls and attic floor)
- insulation amount
For basic heating and cooling needs, some contractors do offer free online quote calculators.
Too Good to Be True
If a contractor quotes a low-ball price, be suspicious. A legit HVAC technician is a highly skilled worker, paid by the hour. Overhead expenses for service trucks, offices, staff and fuel for the fleet mean there is no such a thing as a “$25 inspection and cleaning” for your furnace, boiler or A/C unit. The original enticement may be followed up with bogus add-on charges, such as recycling costs, “doc” fees or disposable parts surcharges.
For more help in selecting a reliable, trustworthy HVAC contractor for your Portland area home, contact Roth Heating & Cooling.