How Do You Hire an HVAC Technician?

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated June 4, 2021
AC with technician gloves
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Hiring the best HVAC technician comes down to finding pros with specialized expertise and the credentials to back it up.

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You flip on the AC during a heatwave and warm, stagnant air crawls out of your vents. Or, a snowstorm comes to town and your thermostat refuses to budge. When any of your HVAC elements go haywire, you need a highly qualified and trusted technician as quickly as possible. 

We'll cover all you need to know about finding the best HVAC techs for hire, from your search to signing a contract. Always begin by hiring HVAC technicians that check these three boxes:

  • Meets state and federal requirements

  • Has experience working with your unique system and repair

  • Comes recommended by a trusted community

How to Find an HVAC Technician

Twenty years ago, you'd likely flip open the Yellow Pages to find the best HVAC techs in your area. Luckily, we have far more options today, as well as better ways to verify a technician's background and credentials.

Here are the top three ways to find a great HVAC tech:

   1. Search the Angi database for a certified, licensed, and insured HVAC technician near you.

   2. Ask your friends for personal recommendations.

   3. If you have one, check your HVAC company's service agreement.

State websites also dedicate pages to finding an HVAC contractor that meets energy efficiency and licensing standards. The Air Conditioner Contractors of America (ACCA) offers a federal database as well.

Before Hiring an HVAC Technician

When you sense your HVAC is on the fritz, avoid hiring the first name that pops up in your search. We recommend contacting at least three professionals for quotes before signing a contract. While this may sound time-consuming, this allows you to:

  • Compare quotes

  • Verify qualifications and references

  • Ask your HVAC tech specific questions

Research Your HVAC System for Accurate Quotes

Each of your prospective HVAC technicians should offer detailed estimates of the work. In most cases, they will come out to your home to inspect the problem first-hand for free.

In the meantime, get a bit of information ready to help streamline the quote process:

  • The brand, make, and model of the appliances that need repairs

  • A history of past work on your system (if you have it handy)

  • A detailed account of when the problem started and what happened

Keep in mind that the term HVAC covers everything from your AC to whichever system heats your home. Not all contractors have a background—or license—for every type of work.

Check Your HVAC Technicians Qualifications and References

Hands down, checking qualifications is the most crucial first step of your vetting process. All technicians should be licensed, certified, and insured to take on your repairs. The three main categories include:

  • Licensed: Check your technician's website and your state's public safety or utility page for appropriate and up-to-date licenses. Licenses ensure that the technician has the proper training and number of years on the job.

  • Certified: HVAC technicians test and prove their skills by earning certifications. You may spot the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification, the EPA's 608 certificate, and the HVAC Quality Installation certificate from the ACCA.

  • Insured: A contractor should have worker's compensation and general liability insurance before starting work on your home.

Questions to Ask Your HVAC Contractor

When you're in a—very understandable—panic about your furnace or AC malfunctioning, you need a technician that will put you at ease. A reputable air conditioning and heating company will take their time through the quote process, quelling all your concerns and fully inspecting your home.

Here are a few questions to ask during the quote process:

  • Can you provide proof of insurance, certifications, and an up-to-date license?

  • Can I contact past customers to hear about their experience?

  • Have you worked with the specific model and design of my HVAC in the past?

  • Will you be the one performing all my work, or do you contract out to other technicians?

Hiring Your HVAC Technician

Once you find the HVAC tech that fits the bill, it's time to get your home feeling comfy again. Follow this checklist when reading your contract to avoid any confusing payments or potential scams.

Get a Contract and Arrange Payments With Your HVAC Pro

As always, a contract is your best friend when hiring any professional in your home. Never proceed without signing and understanding your contract, even for emergency work.

Your written contract should include:

  • A fixed price and itemized list of charges

  • The proposed work schedule

  • Plans for follow-up maintenance

  • No more than a 10% deposit

  • Clear payment schedule and accepted forms of payment

  • Proof of a building permit before work begins

Keep Records of Your HVAC Repairs

Take photos of your HVAC system whenever possible before, during, and after the technician completes the work. Your local building department should also perform inspections throughout the process.

You can also note:

  • Hours your technician worked

  • Work completed during each session

  • Reported changes in your home system before and after work

  • All financial transactions

Know Your Rights and Avoid HVAC Scams

Check if your contract includes what's known as the cooling-off rule, which allows you to cancel a contract up to three days after signing. If you signed the agreement in a flurry of stress, this is an excellent clause to help you reconsider.

HVAC scams are, sadly, not that uncommon. Look out for these red flags as vet qualified heating and air conditioning pros:

  • Requested payment before work begins (beyond the contracted deposit)

  • Little-to-know online presence

  • Unexpected repairs on a different part of your unit

  • Lack of permit, license, professional certificates, or insurance

Collecting three different estimates also defends against scams. This way, you'll spot if one contractor charges an excessive amount for the service.

After Your HVAC Technician Has Finished

As your HVAC tech wraps up, your town should send an expert to inspect the work one last time. If something seems off, they may leave a correction notice, or if the system is still a threat, a red tag. Only pay the final amount after the HVAC team completes the work successfully and you get the green light from the city.

Hopefully by this point, you'll have a crisp or cozy home once again. But if it's time to upgrade your HVAC, a great tech will be able to offer advice on a new heating or central air system.

Remember to go online and leave a great review for your HVAC tech. Not only is this good form, but it also launches the process for the next homeowner on the hunt for the best expert for the job.

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