7 Questions to Ask When Hiring an HVAC Installer

Conroy Baltimore
Written by Conroy Baltimore
Updated February 18, 2022
Man on the phone taking notes is working from home
Photo: 10'000 Hours / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Assumptions about your quote can end up costing you more

  • Licensing requirements for HVAC contractors vary by state

  • SEER rating determines a unit’s efficiency

  • Installers may recommend their dealer brands

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Have you ever noticed that when you need your heating or cooling at a significant time, that’s when it chooses to break down? There may have been a few warning signs beforehand that prompted you to try and fix any issues on your own. You might have broken out the duct tape to stop a leak or tried cleaning air ducts yourself, which tend to be common HVAC mistakes.

However, the logical next step is often to hire an HVAC contractor. But where do you begin? You can start by asking specific questions that align with your needs.

What Questions Should You Ask an HVAC Installer Before Hiring? 

Finding the right quote from a potential HVAC installer is important because you don’t want to pay a hefty price to have your system underperform. As a result, you may have to replace it sooner than expected.

You don’t want to go into your search asking the typical questions such as:

  • Do you have customer testimonials?

  • How long have you been in business?

  • Are there any guarantees? 

Although they’ll give you some information, they’re still surface-level questions that don’t provide in-depth answers for your issue. Instead, ask your HVAC installer these questions.

1. Do You Think There’s an Issue With My HVAC System?

You firmly know the answer to this question. You’ve been hearing noises coming from your HVAC unit for a few weeks. But asking this helps you gauge the HVAC installer’s service and expertise.

Usually, a contractor will ask you about your issue and how old your unit is. Afterward, they can deduce how significant the problem is and if your HVAC system needs replacing. 

As you’re asking follow-up questions, be sure to listen to how the individual responds. You can pick up on some red flags. Try to avoid individuals that are dismissive or those rushing to give you a quote without seeing your unit.

2. Which Manufacturers Do You Use or Recommend?

Many manufacturers have heating and cooling solutions that can meet many needs. But what about your household? Do you live in a warmer climate and need higher cooling output? Or do you need want more heating efficiency to combat colder temperatures?

As you’re thinking about your new air conditioner, ask an HVAC technician about recommended brands. If you’re dealing with a service that only carries one manufacturer, options will be limited. Since heating and cooling solutions aren’t one size fits all, try finding a service with multiple brands available.

You should also be aware of the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER rating of the unit you’re choosing. This rating measures an AC’s cooling capacity to its power output. So the higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit will be, which means more money in your pocket at the end of the month.

3. Are You a Licensed HVAC Company?

HVAC technician inspecting residential furnace
Photo: perrygerenday / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Some companies still perform routine HVAC maintenance without being licensed to do so. While some states don’t have state-wide licensing requirements, local cities may still require some form of HVAC licensing.

Regardless of where you live, it might give you peace of mind working with someone you know is officially qualified to repair your unit. However, even if a company tells you they are licensed, you should double-check online to see if it’s still valid.

Find your state’s local HVAC contractor requirements to see what they need to perform their work. If you want to go further in-depth, you can check your contractor’s certifications. Manufacturers offer dealer certifications that detail a contractor’s level of experience with that equipment. It’s another method to help you vet your options as your looking for a service.

4. Will You Measure the Home and Follow Manual J Guidelines for Sizing New HVAC Equipment?

Manual J guidelines are what contractors use to calculate the heating and cooling demands a home will need. Before your HVAC unit gets replaced, installers will need to measure your home’s heating and cooling space. 

Although you may have a rough estimate, it would be best to ask your HVAC technician for further insight. The load calculations can be complex, but licensed professionals understand them and can advise you on suitable options.

5. What Is and Is Not Included in the Quote?

This question often gets overlooked because some owners accept a quote based on assumptions. There’s nothing wrong with assuming that when your old HVAC unit gets replaced, it will come with new parts and equipment. 

However, an assumption could lead to early system failure. Specific parts that a technician was supposed to replace may still exist because you accepted the quote without looking at details.

As you sift through HVAC installers, make sure they tell you if existing parts will get replaced when the new unit gets installed. They should also let you know about guarantees or warranty policies. If you decide to select their service, be sure to get all details of your quote in writing, so you know where your money is going and how it’s being used.

6. Will You Inspect the Whole HVAC System, Including Electrical Components and Ductwork?

Piggybacking on assumptions, something else you shouldn’t assume is that an HVAC company will inspect your entire HVAC system. Different companies come with various services, so browse with intent.

The clearer you are about the service you need, the easier it will be to find and get along with contractors. So if your entire system needs inspection, look for a company that provides that service and more. 

Preventative measures and routine maintenance can help extend your system’s lifespan for several years. Without it, your system is prone to breaking down faster, leading to costly repairs.

7. When Can You Start the Project?

Saunas feel nice, but not for extended periods. That’s why, if you’re having HVAC issues, you should get them fixed as quickly as possible to prevent your home from becoming one.

One of the questions you should ask an HVAC installer is when they can begin repairs. Choose a service that can commit to working on your unit ASAP. You don’t want to be in a situation where you decided to work with a company that will take weeks before tending to your system.

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