Choosing a good Heat pump contractor or any HVAC contractor for that matter, either for service or new installation is a really challenging task. Good Contractor is like a needle in a haystack. Sadly good honest contractors are very rare relatively speaking, but don’t take me wrong they do exist but they are hard to find.
So what should I do? And how can I choose the right contractor?
Okay you are in the middle of the season (summer or winter) and your heat pump just stopped working and you made sure it is not the breaker that just tripped, it is actually broken. What should you do? Who should you call?
Most people take for granted the comfort provided by their central air conditioner, heat pump or furnace until something goes wrong and the unit needs to be serviced or replaced.
HVAC or heat pump contractor should be like your family physician, you know him and he knows you, he knows your system he did your maintenance before at least twice a year, but unfortunately most of us don’t do that. And when your system broke, you run to the phonebook looking for a heat pump contractor and find the biggest ad there and call, that my friend is the biggest mistake we all do.
Ask for referrals — Ask friends, neighbors and co-workers for contractor referrals. You can also contact local trade organizations for names of members in your area. We are in the age of social networks a small post on your Facebook and you will receive tons of comments trying to help you, also there are reviews sites that rate contractors that can help you as well.
Okay you found a good one, but what next? Yes you will call them but before you call do your homework.
A Quality Heat Pump Contractor:
§ Complies with state, local codes and regulations and runs a proper business with workers compensation insurance, this is very important as a lot of scams out there. Go to the Contractor state license board website for your state and check your contractor, does he have a clean records? Is his license active? Does he pay his insurance (workmen compensation and liability)? That’s very important to protect yourself in case of any accident. Here is the link to California Contractor State License Board and I am sure every state has one.
§ Is prompt, courteous and provides fast, reliable service while attempting to do a service at your convenience. You can find that out from the way they talk and respond to you and how fast they schedule your work, and if they can guarantee the timing. Also check them on the Better Business Bureaus. website
Also before you call study up and know the model of your current system and its maintenance history. Also make a note of any uncomfortable rooms. Is any room too drafty or dry during the winter, or too hot or damp in the summer? This will help potential contractors to better understand your heating and cooling needs.
While you are calling, don’t ask how much it will cost me instead ask for the service charge just in case you decide you don’t want to go with the repair, some of them will give you free estimates which’s great. Try to find a contractor who will charge for time and material which will help you save a lot of money.
A blower motor can cost about $65 let’s say $80 after the heat pump contractor mark it up, his hourly rate should be around $65/Hr to $70/Hr and this job should take with travel and all about 2 hours so you could pay total around $200 USD, but you will find someone telling you we have fixed cost or straight forward pricing and it will cost you $300 or $400 so please be aware.
While you are still in the call!
Ask the contractor for references. Find out if other customers were satisfied.
Ask if the contractor’s technicians are NATE certified, NATE-certified technicians have proven their knowledge of modern HVACR systems.
Okay now your heat pump contractor has arrived at your home what should you expect?
Expect a home evaluation — the heat pump contractor should spend significant time inspecting your current system and home to assess your needs. A bigger system isn't always better, a contractor should size the heating and cooling system based on the size of your house, the level of insulation and the windows. A good contractor will inspect your duct system (if applicable) for air leaks and insulation and measure airflow to make sure it meets manufacturer’s specifications.
Get written, itemized estimates — when comparing contractor’s proposals (bids), be sure to compare cost, energy efficiency and warranties. A low price may not be the best deal if it's not the most efficient because your energy costs will be higher.
Get it in ink — Sign a written proposal with a contractor before work gets started. It'll protect you by specifying project costs, model numbers and job schedule and warranty information.
ENERGY STAR -Don’t forget to ask about qualified heating and cooling equipment.
3 Quotations – The rule of 3 don’t ever go with the 1st estimate, the contractors will want you to but don’t, always get at least 3 Different estimates/quotations and why not they are free to replace your system.
At the end there are some general rules that I found interesting in ACCA website (Air Conditioning Contractors of America) I thought to share with you. about a quality heat pump contractor
I teamed up with a HVAC contractors network, they pre-screen their members, allover the nation. To join this network a heat pump contractor must be a tip top, his license is active and his insurance is active as well (you still need to do you homework and don't take any one word for it ), all of their contractors members are willing to give free estimates for repairs or installations. If you are looking to replace or repair your system fill the form below and they will contact you , Heatpump-reviews.com does not keep your records at all, we are just trying to help.
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