Bad weather can roll in anywhere, so most homeowners have experienced with some degree of storm damage. Hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and hail can damage many parts of your property, like the landscape, roof, siding and windows.
Heavy winds and water damage are also common problems for outdoor heating and cooling systems. In severe weather, systems may be pushed out of position, even falling over and breaking electrical systems and refrigerant lines. Even when systems manage to stay upright, they can accumulate mud and other debris, which must be cleaned out before they can work correctly.
For your safety when assessing your storm-damaged home, don’t start 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 guy with a truck can argue they're an HVAC technician. A poorly trained person tampering with your equipment could make matters worse, and overcharge you and then leave without a trace.
Situations like these may escalate after storm cleanup. To avoid being exploited, here are the top six questions to ask when hiring a heating and cooling contractor.
1. Are you licensed, insured and certified?
Most states have implemented licensing and insurance requirements for HVAC contractors. This offers peace of mind that whoever is working on the equipment has the appropriate training and coverage in the event an accident unfolds. Continued ACE certification only further supports a contractor’s means to supply high-quality service.
2. What can you tell me about your experience and reputation?
While decades of service alone doesn’t promise a contractor will do a great job, it demonstrates that they are proficient enough to remain in business for the long term. If you're able to, search for the company’s name online to confirm that they’re telling the truth about their experience.
Simultaneously, look up the contractors you’re considering on Google and other third-party review websites. Testimonials from previous customers give you a detailed idea of what to expect.
For even more specific answers, check with potential contractors for the contact info of past customers. As you get in touch with these references and read 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 overall bill the same cost as the initial estimate?
- Did a live person always answer calls, or did an answering machine pick up?
3. Are the technicians background-checked and drug-tested?
You deserve confidence that the HVAC professionals who perform the work are clean, trustworthy and safe to have near your family. For total peace of mind, check with the contractor if background checks and drug tests are required before introducing new hires to the team.
4. Can you assess the entire home comfort system?
If the storm damage is serious enough to ruin your HVAC system, you may need another one. However, it isn’t enough to simply swap out one furnace and air conditioner for another. After all, a comfort system is only as good as the ductwork attached to it. So if you’re thinking about HVAC replacement soon after a storm, ask potential contractors a few questions:
- Do you complete heat loss/gain evaluations?
- Do you analyze insulation levels and air leaks?
- Do you check the duct system to ensure appropriate sizing and configuration?
5. Can I get an estimate in writing?
A written, itemized estimate is vital when comparing bids from multiple HVAC contractors. Try to get a company that provides free estimates and transparent, up-front pricing. Also, don't forget to ask whether the company charges per hour or by the job so you recognize what you’re paying for. Just be aware that the lowest bid isn’t necessarily the best deal, especially if it’s considerably lower than the rest. It’s likely that the contractor may try to cut corners to make the price attractive or tack on hidden fees at the end.
6. Do you have any special offers?
Getting your HVAC system back up and running after a severe storm isn’t always inexpensive. That’s why it’s worthwhile to request any savings you could qualify for when repairing or replacing your equipment. Also, find out what financing and leasing options the contractor can offer as an easier way to afford sudden HVAC services after a storm.
Choose Chief/Bauer Service Experts
Do you need a reputable contractor to restore your HVAC system after unexpected flooding? You can’t go wrong with Chief/Bauer Service Experts. We are a national company with hometown heart, a formula that helps us stay in front of the competition. If you prioritize affordable prices, long-lasting results and complete satisfaction, we can meet your needs to a tee. Get in touch with your local Chief/Bauer Service Experts office for help examining and servicing your HVAC system.