Bad weather can happen anywhere, so the bulk of homeowners are familiar with storm damage. Hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and hail can affect many aspects of your property, such as the landscape, roof, siding and windows.
High winds and flooding are also significant problems for outdoor heating and cooling equipment. In extreme weather, systems will sometimes be forced out of position, even falling over and damaging electrical systems and refrigerant lines. Even if systems manage to stay upright, they will sometimes amass mud and other sediment, which needs to be cleaned before they can operate correctly.
For your safety when assessing your storm-damaged home, don’t start the HVAC system until it has received the all-clear from a heating and cooling technician. The trick is identifying who to hire for the job. After all, any random individual with a truck can claim they're an HVAC technician. A poorly trained person tampering with your system might make matters worse, not to mention overcharge you and then disappear without a trace.
Situations like these tend to escalate during storm cleanup. To avoid being cheated, learn the top six questions to raise when hiring a heating and cooling contractor.
1. Are you licensed, insured and certified?
The majority of states have licensing and insurance requirements for HVAC contractors. This delivers peace of mind that anyone who works on things has the correct training and coverage if an accident occurs. Extra ACE certification only further helps a contractor’s ability to provide high-quality service.
2. What can you tell me about your experience and reputation?
While decades of service alone doesn’t promise a contractor will do a better job, it indicates that they are experienced enough to stay in business for the long term. If you're able to, look into the company’s name online to confirm that they’re telling the truth about their experience.
Simultaneously, research the contractors you’re thinking about on Google and other third-party review websites. Reviews from prior customers give you a detailed idea of what to expect.
For even more comprehensive answers, inquire with potential contractors for the contact information of previous customers. As you contact these references and check online reviews, seek out answers to these questions:
- Did the contractor finish the job on time?
- Did the contractor leave the customer feeling comfortable?
- Was the overall bill the same price as the up-front estimate?
- Did a live person always answer calls, or did an answering machine pick up?
3. Are the technicians background-checked and drug-tested?
You like reassurance that the HVAC staff who complete the work are clean, reliable and safe to have around your family. For your peace of mind, ask the contractor if background checks and drug tests are required before bringing new hires to the team.
4. Can you assess the entire home HVAC system?
If the storm damage is serious enough to ruin your HVAC system, you might need a replacement. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to just swap out one furnace and air conditioner for others. After all, a comfort system is only as effective as the ductwork attached to it. So if you’re considering HVAC replacement following a storm, ask potential contractors a few questions:
- Do you perform heat loss/gain evaluations?
- Do you analyze insulation levels and air leaks?
- Do you investigate the duct system to provide correct sizing and configuration?
5. Can I get an estimate in writing?
A written, itemized estimate is crucial when comparing bids from different HVAC contractors. Look for a company that includes free estimates and honest, up-front pricing. Also, don't forget to ask whether the company charges per hour or per job so you recognize what you’re paying for. Just remember that the cheapest bid isn’t always the best deal, particularly if it’s far lower than the majority. Odds are the contractor could attempt to cut corners to make the price attractive or sneak in hidden fees at the end.
6. Do you have any special discounts?
Getting your HVAC system back online after a severe storm isn’t always cheap. That’s why it’s beneficial to inquire about any savings you could qualify for when repairing or replacing your equipment. Also, find out what financing and leasing options the contractor can offer as a better way to afford unexpected HVAC services after a storm.
Choose Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning
Do you need a proven contractor to repair your HVAC system after a natural disaster? You can’t go wrong with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. We are a national company with hometown heart, a combination that helps us stay ahead of the competition. If you appreciate good prices, lasting results and total satisfaction, we can meet your needs to a tee. Get a hold of your local Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office for help examining and repairing your HVAC system.