Severe weather can roll in just about anywhere, so most homeowners have experienced with some degree of storm damage. Hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and hail can impact many portions of your property, like the landscape, roof, siding and windows.
Heavy winds and floods are also significant issues for outdoor heating and cooling systems. In severe weather, equipment could be forced out of position, even toppling over and breaking electrical systems and refrigerant lines. Even if systems manage to stay upright, they will sometimes accumulate mud and other debris, which must be removed before they can function like they're supposed to.
For your safety when examining your storm-damaged home, don’t start the HVAC system until after it's received the all-clear from a heating and cooling contractor. The trick is understanding who to hire for the job. After all, any random individual with a truck can argue they're an HVAC technician. Someone unqualified and tampering with your equipment may make matters worse, plus overcharge you and then disappear without a trace.
Incidents like these often escalate during storm cleanup. To avoid being taken advantage of, learn the top six questions to share when hiring a heating and cooling contractor.
1. Are you licensed, insured and certified?
Many states implement licensing and insurance requirements for HVAC contractors. This provides peace of mind that anyone who works on the equipment has the proper training and coverage in the event an accident takes place. Extra ACE certification only further assists a contractor’s ability to ensure high-quality service.
2. What can you tell me about your experience and reputation?
While decades of service alone doesn’t offer a promise that a contractor will do a good job, it indicates that they are skilled enough to remain in business for the long term. If you can, look up the company’s name online to verify that they’re telling the truth about their experience.
While you’re at it, look up the contractors you’re thinking about on Google and other third-party review websites. Feedback from previous customers provide a better idea of what to expect.
For even more definite answers, ask potential contractors for the contact details of past customers. As you contact these references and check online reviews, seek out answers to the following questions:
- Did the contractor complete the job on time?
- Did the contractor leave the customer feeling satisfied?
- Was the total bill the same amount as the up-front estimate?
- Did a live person always answer calls, or did an answering machine pick up?
3. Are new technicians background-checked and drug-tested?
You like assurance that the HVAC technicians who perform the work are clean, reliable and safe to have around your family. For your peace of mind, check with the contractor if background checks and drug tests are required before introducing new hires to the team.
4. Can you evaluate the entire home HVAC system?
If the storm damage is significant enough to destroy your HVAC system, you might need a replacement. However, it isn’t enough to just swap out one furnace and air conditioner for another. After all, a heating and cooling system is only as good as the ductwork it’s attached to. So if you’re considering HVAC replacement following a storm, ask potential contractors a few questions:
- Do you complete heat loss/gain evaluations?
- Do you analyze insulation levels and air leaks?
- Do you check the duct system to ensure correct sizing and configuration?
5. Can I get an estimate in writing?
A written, itemized estimate is vital when exploring bids from various HVAC contractors. Look for a company that provides free estimates and transparent, fair pricing. Also, don't forget to ask if the company charges by the hour or by the job so you recognize what you’re paying for. Just keep in mind that the cheapest bid isn’t automatically the best deal, especially if it’s much lower than the majority. It’s likely that the contractor may try to cut corners to make the price attractive or tack on hidden fees at the end.
6. Do you have any special promotions?
Getting your HVAC system back online after a serious storm isn’t always cheap. That’s why it’s advisable to inquire about any savings you could qualify for when repairing or replacing your HVAC system. Also, find out what financing and leasing options the contractor offers as a better way to cover unanticipated HVAC services after a storm.
Choose Neal Harris Service Experts
Do you need a trusted contractor to fix your HVAC system after a nasty storm? You can’t go wrong with Neal Harris Service Experts. We are a national company with hometown heart, a combination that helps us stay above the competition. If you prioritize affordable prices, long-lasting results and complete satisfaction, we can meet your needs to a tee. Contact your local Neal Harris Service Experts office for help inspecting and fixing your HVAC system.