Extreme weather can happen anywhere, so most homeowners have experienced with some degree of storm damage. Hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and hail can affect many aspects of your property, including the landscape, roof, siding and windows.
Strong winds and floods are also significant issues for outdoor heating and cooling equipment. In severe weather, equipment may be pushed out of position, frequently toppling over and damaging electrical systems and refrigerant lines. Even in situations where systems stay upright, they will sometimes accumulate mud and other materials, which must be cleaned before they can operate properly.
For your safety when assessing your storm-damaged home, don’t turn on 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 claim they're an HVAC technician. An unqualified person tampering with your equipment may make matters worse, plus overcharge you and then disappear without a trace.
Events like these tend to escalate after storm cleanup. To avoid being cheated, learn the top six questions to ask when hiring a heating and cooling contractor.
1. Are you licensed, insured and certified?
Many states have implemented licensing and insurance requirements for HVAC contractors. This offers peace of mind that whoever works on your system has the appropriate training and coverage if an accident occurs. Additional ACE certification only further helps a contractor’s means to provide high-quality service.
2. What can you tell me about your experience and reputation?
While longevity alone doesn’t guarantee a contractor will do a better job, it shows that they are skilled enough to remain in business for the long term. If you can, search for the company’s name online to determine that they’re telling the truth about their experience.
While you’re at it, research the contractors you’re interested in on Google and other third-party review websites. Feedback from previous customers give you a better idea of what to expect.
For even more definite answers, inquire with potential contractors for the contact information of prior customers. As you contact these references and check online reviews, seek answers to the following questions:
- Did the contractor end the job on time?
- Did the contractor leave the customer feeling comfortable?
- Was the total bill the same cost 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 confidence that the HVAC technicians who do the work are clean, trustworthy and safe to have around your family. For total peace of mind, ask the contractor if background checks and drug tests are compulsory before bringing new hires to the team.
4. Can you examine the entire home comfort system?
If the storm damage is severe enough to ruin your HVAC system, you might need a new one. However, it isn’t enough to merely swap out one furnace and air conditioner for others. After all, an HVAC system is only as effective as the ductwork it’s attached to. So if you’re considering HVAC replacement following a storm, ask potential contractors these questions:
- Do you complete heat loss/gain evaluations?
- Do you analyze insulation levels and air leaks?
- Do you check the duct system to provide correct sizing and configuration?
5. Can I get an estimate in writing?
A written, itemized estimate is essential when exploring bids from different HVAC contractors. Try to get a company that provides free estimates and trustworthy, fair pricing. Also, make sure to ask whether the company charges hourly or per job so you recognize what you’re paying for. Just remember that the most affordable bid isn’t necessarily the best deal, especially if it’s far lower than the majority. Chances are the contractor will either cut corners to make the price seem fair or tack on hidden fees at the end.
6. Do you have any special promotions?
Getting your HVAC system back to normal after a serious storm isn’t always cheap. That’s why it’s advisable to request any savings you could qualify for when repairing or replacing your equipment. Also, figure out what financing and leasing options the contractor carries as a stress-free way to afford sudden HVAC services as a result of a storm.
Choose Fras-Air/General Service Experts
Do you need a proven contractor to fix your HVAC system after a natural disaster? You can’t go wrong with Fras-Air/General Service Experts. We are a national company with hometown heart, a pairing that helps us stay above the competition. If you prioritize good prices, enduring results and complete satisfaction, we can meet your needs to a tee. Get a hold of your local Fras-Air/General Service Experts office for help inspecting and servicing your HVAC system.