Severe weather can roll in anywhere, so the bulk of homeowners are familiar with storm damage. Hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and hail can impact many parts of your property, like the landscape, roof, siding and windows.
Strong winds and flooding are also significant concerns for outdoor heating and cooling equipment. In extreme weather, systems will sometimes be pushed out of position, often falling on their sides and causing damage to electrical systems and refrigerant lines. Even when systems stay upright, they may amass mud and other materials, which needs to be cleaned before they can operate like they're supposed to.
For your safety when assessing your storm-damaged home, don’t turn on the HVAC system until it has gotten the all-clear from a heating and cooling specialist. The trick is identifying who to hire for the job. After all, any random person with a truck can claim to be an HVAC technician. Someone unqualified and tampering with your system 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 taken advantage of, here are the top six questions to ask when hiring a heating and cooling contractor.
1. Are you licensed, insured and certified?
The majority of states have licensing and insurance requirements for HVAC contractors. This provides peace of mind that whoever is working on things has the correct training and coverage in the event an accident occurs. Continued ACE certification only further helps a contractor’s capability to ensure 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 great job, it shows that they are proficient enough to remain in business for the long term. If you can, search for the company’s name online to verify that they’re telling the truth about their experience.
Simultaneously, look up the contractors you’re thinking about on Google and other third-party review websites. Feedback from past customers present a better idea of what to expect.
For even more comprehensive answers, inquire with potential contractors for the contact information of previous customers. As you call these references and read online reviews, seek out answers to these questions:
- Did the contractor finish the job on time?
- Did the contractor leave the customer feeling comfortable?
- Was the final bill the same amount as the up-front 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 like reassurance that the HVAC technicians who do the work are clean, trustworthy and safe to have around your family. For complete peace of mind, check with the contractor if background checks and drug tests are required before bringing new hires to the team.
4. Can you examine the entire home heating and cooling system?
If the storm damage is severe enough to ruin your HVAC system, you may need a new one. However, it isn’t enough to simply swap out one furnace and air conditioner for others. After all, a heating and cooling system is only as effective as the ductwork attached to it. So if you’re looking at HVAC replacement after 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 ensure proper sizing and configuration?
5. Can I get an estimate in writing?
A written, itemized estimate is vital when reviewing bids from different HVAC contractors. Try to get a company that provides free estimates and honest, direct pricing. Also, don't forget to ask if the company charges per hour or by the job so you recognize what you’re paying for. Just keep in mind that the lowest bid isn’t always the best deal, especially if it’s considerably lower than the majority. It’s likely that the contractor could attempt to cut corners to make the price doable or tack on hidden fees at the end.
6. Do you have any special offers?
Getting your HVAC system back online after a severe storm isn’t always inexpensive. That’s why it’s worthwhile to ask about any savings you may qualify for when repairing or replacing your HVAC system. Also, find out what financing and leasing options the contractor can offer as a better way to cover unanticipated HVAC services after a storm.
Choose McElroy Service Experts
Do you need a trusted contractor to repair your HVAC system after a nasty storm? You can’t go wrong with McElroy Service Experts. We are a national company with hometown heart, a formula that helps us stay ahead of the competition. If you value fair prices, long-lasting results and total satisfaction, we can meet your needs to a tee. Get in touch with your local McElroy Service Experts office for help inspecting and fixing your HVAC system.