I’m thinking about replacing my HVAC system and don’t know where to start.
We recommend you start local with a Google or Bing search and find an air conditioning and heating company that is within 10 to 15 miles of your home. Finding and using a local HVAC company will pay off in the long run if and when you ever have problems or need service during peak seasons. Some HVAC companies advertise farther then where they usually service during slower seasons to stay busy, but when peak season comes, they are usually understaffed to handle your issue in a timely manner.
What to look for in an air conditioning installation company
The first thing you should always look for when hiring a HVAC company to install or replace your air conditioning and heating system is make sure that they are licensed, bonded, insured. There are many handymen or people moonlighting as contractors that will install air conditioning systems that are not licensed. The easiest way to look for someone’s license is through the California State License Board. They have an easy to use search function on their website. You can also find contractors that you have ready researched and run their license. In California the classification to install, repair, or replace air conditioning and heating systems is called a C20 classification.
As for the insurance you should ask to see a physical copy of it. Just because your HVAC contractor tells you that they have it, you should still verify that it is current and will cover your Project. The standard is a one-million-dollar policy per occurrence, which means your job or project will be covered for 1 million dollars if anything might go wrong. Liability insurance is more important than the contractor’s surety bond. Most contractor surety bonds are typically only rated for $10,000. Liability insurance works well to cover any issue you might have and if you’re really concerned with the contractor or to give you the extra peace of mind you should be able to ask them to add you to the policy and ask for a certificate for your project directly.
What to look for in an air conditioning installation company – Pictures of projects
A picture can say a thousand words but when it comes to home air conditioning and heating projects you should examine them closely so that you can see the workmanship the contractor will be doing for your home. Knowing what to look for in the pictures is something that can be subjective to every home owner and every contractor. The best advice we can give you when looking at pictures of HVAC systems that the contractor you are considering has installed is to make sure that they lineup with the standards that you have for your own home. If they’re presenting these pictures with pride as examples of jobs they’ve done in the past consider if they measure up to your own standards and expectations if your home was the one being used as the example.
What to look for in an HVAC installation company – Reviews
A review to every HVAC contractor and home service provider can be the biggest asset to the company or their biggest liability. When you research a company to come to your home and install a heating or air conditioning system you want to get a couple sources for reviews like Google and Yelp. You may find that many companies lean on only one review website more than others. They might only have 20 reviews on Yelp but 150 on their Google Business Listing so it is worthwhile to check multiple sources. This will allow you to really see the values and culture that a company has. When looking at reviews you also will want to read them thoroughly rather than just skimming through the star ratings.
How to find and air conditioning and installation company – The equipment brand they represent
Most air conditioning and heating companies will only use 1 or 2 manufacturer’s equipment. The biggest factor when deciding what manufacturer’s equipment to use is the location of the distributor they buy from. When you shop around for contractor bids you will find that they will usually all sell the same equipment because they all buy from the same local distributor. If you have a specific brand you want, you should look at the manufacturer’s dealer locator to find the closest company around. With the manufacturers dealer locator, it is very common that you will see big holes in geographic coverage and the biggest reason is there are no distributors of that brand close enough. Most small HVAC companies will not want to drive 50 miles away to pick up a specific brand and bring it all the way back to your home for installation.
How to find the best air conditioning company to install your system – Does a brand name really matter
First off there is only 4 major manufacturers that produce air conditioning and heating systems: Lennox, Rheem, Carrier, and Trane. These 4 major manufacturers will re-label, re-paint, and rebrand equipment to their partner’s brands, the same exact units coming off the same assembly line. For an experienced HVAC contractor to tell you there’s a difference between a Bryant and a Carrier, or Rheem and a Ruud, or a Lennox and Armstrong, he is lying to you because its exact same unit. What really matters is how the equipment is installed.
Getting the best air conditioning – The value of a good installation
Whether you go with any brand you choose when installing a new air conditioning system, it’s all about how it’s put in your home. There are many studies that have been done by companies like PG&E that found bad installations as the leading problem when it comes to reliability and performance of HVAC systems. So how do you stop that from happening to your home and make sure that your contractor is doing what he needs to do to make sure your system is running at peak performance. Make sure they have a quality control system in place, something as simple as a checklist when they’re done with every project to review that they didn’t miss anything. That may sound obvious that it should be done but most air conditioning contractors still have the mentality of just changing out boxes for your home. A good quality contractor is going to show you their checklist or a form they fill out or something that helps them keep track of all the steps and tasks that need to be done for a quality installation.
Getting the best installation for your home – The importance of permits and why you should always ask for them
Getting permits is the most important aspect of any large home project that you want done. Whether you use a small local air conditioning company or a large corporation to do your installation you should always get a permit for your HVAC project. There are many ways a contractor can cut corners when they don’t do the job properly. Getting a permit doesn’t always guarantee you will get the best quality installation, but it does guarantee your home won’t burn down if they met the minimum requirements. In California there’s a lot of things that can happen when you pull a permit. One thing is the county or city will not release a permit to someone that is not licensed with the State of California to install air conditioning systems. Secondly before the city or county inspector comes out to the home there needs to be a 3rd party that comes in and verifies that the system is performing to the California State Standards. This third party ensures that your system is running close to the manufacturer specifications. They will also ensure that there’s a low amount of duct leakage so that you’re not heating and cooling your attic and that your system has a correct amount of the refrigerant in it. The third party will also perform a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) test to verify that the system is installed to California state standards as well as local municipal standards. The cost of permits will usually range between $300 to $800. The fee for the third-party inspector will also usually fall within $250 to $350 for all the performance tests and verification. In the long term if you’re looking at cutting costs with any contractor do not start with cutting out the permits, it will cost you more in the long run.
Financing your air conditioning and heating system
Getting financing is easy if you are considering getting a heating or cooling system for your home. Most people dread the unexpected cost that can pop up if they are thinking of replacing or installing HVAC systems in their homes. Financing makes it easier to afford a large investment like a home HVAC system, letting you spread out a potentially large purchase, sometimes up to even $20,000 for a top of the line installation, over several months or years. The biggest things you need to look for though when you use financing for a home air conditioning system is the terms. Most financing companies offer a variety of options to pay for the air conditioning system. Some of the most common ones are no payments or no interests plans for a certain amount of time or low interest low payments for a given amount of time. The most important thing to know about these promotional plans is that they require you to pay on. Failing to make a payment or making a late payment will often result in you having to pay the interest on the entire amount financed rather than just the balance. For example, if you have 36 months no interest equal payments plan, and you are late on the payment on your 34th month you’ll be paying interests on the entire amount financed rather than just the balance. Financing makes it more affordable but also requires you to keep up with all the payments.
Finding the best air conditioning heating system contractor – Why does the cost vary with every contractor?
When getting estimates for your home air conditioning system you might find that some contractor prices vary wildly from one to the next among HVAC contractors in the same area. The biggest reason the cost varies from every contractor is not overhead but how they value their Company and Workmanship. It really comes down to how the company is managed and operated. The low-price leader will usually have issues with quality of their installation because they’re in a situation where they don’t invest in growing their market and have no cushion to fall back on making them desperate for another job as soon as possible just to stay afloat. A company that has a good business model will be more expensive than the low-price leader consistently, but the benefits of this is having a company that’s going to be around 10 years from now when you need them to honor their warranties. The higher quality contractors will also take the time needed to install your system properly. When you think about installing or replacing a system like your heating or cooling remember that this is something that should work well and efficiently for 20 years. It is a long-term investment in your home that you want done correctly the first time even if it’s a bit more upfront, the higher quality installation will end up saving you money over the years.
What really matters when it comes to choosing an air conditioning installation contractor.
At the end of the day it is your decision on who you choose to install or replace your heating and cooling systems. You choose who you like and feel more comfortable trusting such an important part of your home.