As we’ve said, the number 1 determinant of how well your new system will perform is how well it’s installed. This means finding the right contractor for the job is essential. Luckily you’ve found AC Doctor! A search of our directory will result in contractors that we have screened and prequalified. In fact, we’ve been doing business with many of these contractors for years and years and agree that they are the cream of the crop. But don’t just take our word for it, see for yourself.Here are some dos and don’ts to help identify a good contractor. Again, we can’t say this enough, a quality installation is essential for your new system. Take your time, use the resources of AC Doctor and make sure you feel comfortable with your decisions. Here we go…
Any contractor you use should have the proper licenses.
Don’t worry, AC Doctor’s got you covered on this one – all the contractors in our directory have the appropriate state and/or city licenses to perform heating and cooling work in their localities.
Review profile pages of the AC Doctor contractors you’re considering. Check for things like:
Reviews of other homeowners who have used these contractors.
How long the contractor has been in business.
What national trade associations they are members of.
Whether they offer 24 hour service.
Whether they offer consumer financing.
Whether they offer maintenance agreements and/or extended warranties
Whether they accept credit cards.
These profile pages are a good start, but don’t be shy, ask a lot of questions. Here are some good ones:
Do you have a refund policy if I am unsatisfied?
Does your team wear uniforms and identification badges?
Do you have a showroom nearby?
Here’s where it gets critical, identifying the best of the best. In discussions with the contractor tell him that (thanks to AC Doctor) you’re a well informed consumer and that you…
insist that he performs a Manual J calculation
insist he explains the benefits of high-efficiency equipment and how it can impact your monthly energy bills.
insist he inspect your home’s duct system and make any and all necessary repairs
insist on the installation of a programmable thermostat and a tour of how to properly use it
insist he shows you options to improve your home’s indoor air quality
insist he determines if your home requires more insulation
insist he performs diagnostics to determine that the system is running optimally and will keep your home comfortable.
Good contractors should have no problem with any of these items, and setting these standards upfront will help ensure that your contractor will perform a high-quality installation.
Whether you are looking for a contractor to replace an old system, make repairs or perform routine maintenance, taking time now can avoid costly mistakes later. More Things You Should Know
Contractor may need licenses, depending on your state or local requirements. Be sure to ask any contractor about their training, experience, and member associations.
EPA certifications are required to handle refrigerant in cooling systems. This means that ownership of refrigerant recovery equipment is a must. Ask your contractor to verify his certificate.
Call the state and the Better Business Bureau to find out if there have been any complaints against them. Check the contractor's record, their performance, and get a list of their past projects to look at their work. Ask for a list of references and call them about the contractor’s performance. Ask specific questions: What work was done? Did they start and finish the project as promised? Did they arrive on time and clean the job site daily? Was their work continuous throughout the project or sporadic?
Ask for verification of a Certificate of Insurance then call the insurance company to confirm the certificate is valid. Understand that it’s your responsibility for workers on your property Know that the contractor is insured.
A written contract or proposal is a must! Always obtain one before allowing any contractor in to install anything. Ask about warranties and financing. Remember, the lowest bid may not be your best choice. A slightly higher bid may get you more in the long run with better equipment and service. Ensure the equipment and service best meets your needs by carefully evaluating the contractor's proposal.
By now your list of potential contractors should contain only qualified reliable contractors. Now it's time to compare prices. Again look for the best value, not the lowest price. Have the potential contractors look at the job and give them a firm, but reasonable deadline for submitting the bid to you. You should discuss any optional items, such as a programmable thermostat or high efficiency filters at this time. Once all the bids are in, look at them all together. They should all be in a similar price range.
Review the bids carefully, not just the bottom line. Look over them very carefully. Any bid that seems way out of line may not very well be. A bid which is much higher than the rest could mean that this particular contractor picked up on something that the others missed. Possibly something necessary to bring the project up to code. Now, look at any that are much lower than the rest. Be particularly cautious of these. Why does this one cost less? Are they using inferior materials or just lower prices? Don't be afraid to call the contractor and ask any questions that you have about his bid.
Keep in mind that selecting the best bid is all about tradeoffs. You will want to select the bid that is the best tradeoff between price and quality of work.
Once you’ve made your selection, it is time to actually hire the contractor.
Get a Contract
If the contractor is to do a substantial amount of work, such as installing central air and heat into an older home, or completely replacing a current system, you will want to have a contract. You may want to consult your own attorney to look at a the contract, but we can give you a few pointers:
Be certain the contract specifies everything that you and the contractor have agreed to: work to be done, time of completion, materials to be used, etc. A contract specifying everything will protect you legally and help you to avoid any misunderstanding with your contractor.
Any changes to the contract should be in writing.
The price in the contract should be the same price as specified on the bid. Know how much money is due and when it’s due. Is a deposit required? Almost all contractors require a deposit. Many have a schedule of payments to be made as work is completed. Never agree to make the final payment until after all of the work has been completed and approved, not only by you, but also by the proper local permitting agencies.
Has replacing your AC or Furnace been made affordable? Most of the time the expense of replacing a major comfort system such as your air conditioner is not planned. There are many affordable ways to make it fit into your budget.
From a home equity line of credit, to a home improvement loan or a lease, there are many easy ways to finance your purchase. Learn from our experts about the loan finance package that is right for you.
ACDoctor is the country's premier destination for all your air conditioning and heating needs. We've been in this business for 60 years and have grown into the industry's largest and most trusted independent source.
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