Bad weather can appear anywhere, so most homeowners have experienced with some degree of storm damage. Hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and hail can impact many aspects of your property, including the landscape, roof, siding and windows.
High winds and water damage are also significant concerns for outdoor heating and cooling systems. In dangerous weather, equipment could be thrust out of position, often falling on their sides and causing damage to electrical systems and refrigerant lines. Even in situations where systems stay upright, they may collect mud and other materials, which must be cleaned before they can work properly.
For your safety when evaluating your storm-damaged home, don’t start the HVAC system until it's gotten the all-clear from a heating and cooling technician. The trick is knowing who to hire for the job. After all, any random guy with a truck can claim they're an HVAC technician. A poorly trained person tampering with your equipment might make matters worse, and overcharge you and then leave without a trace.
Incidents like these tend to escalate during storm cleanup. To avoid being cheated, learn about the top six questions to ask when hiring a heating and cooling contractor.
1. Are you licensed, insured and certified?
Many states have licensing and insurance requirements for HVAC contractors. This offers peace of mind that anyone who works on things has the proper training and coverage in case an accident takes place. Additional ACE certification only further supports a contractor’s ability to ensure high-quality service.
2. What can you tell me about your experience and reputation?
While longevity alone doesn’t promise a contractor will do a better job, it demonstrates that they are skilled 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, research the contractors you’re thinking about on Google and other third-party review websites. Testimonials from previous customers present a good idea of what to expect.
For even more comprehensive answers, ask potential contractors for the contact details of previous customers. As you call these references and read online reviews, look for answers to these questions:
- Did the contractor end the job on time?
- Did the contractor leave the customer feeling comfortable?
- Was the total bill the same amount 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 like assurance that the HVAC professionals who complete the work are clean, dependable and safe to have around your family. For your peace of mind, talk to the contractor if background checks and drug tests are mandated before bringing new hires to the team.
4. Can you examine the entire home heating and cooling system?
If the storm damage is significant enough to destroy your HVAC system, you will sometimes need another one. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to simply swap out one furnace and air conditioner for another. After all, an HVAC system is only as good as the ductwork it uses. So if you’re looking at HVAC replacement soon after a storm, ask potential contractors the following questions:
- Do you complete heat loss/gain evaluations?
- Do you analyze insulation levels and air leaks?
- Do you investigate the duct system to provide appropriate sizing and configuration?
5. Can I get an estimate in writing?
A written, itemized estimate is crucial when comparing bids from various HVAC contractors. Try to find a company that offers free estimates and transparent, fair pricing. Also, make sure to ask whether the company charges by the hour or by the job so you know what you’re paying for. Just remember that the cheapest bid isn’t automatically the best deal, especially if it’s far lower than the rest. Chances are the contractor could attempt to cut corners to make the price doable or surprise you with hidden fees at the end.
6. Do you have any special offers?
Getting your HVAC system back to normal after a severe storm isn’t always low cost. That’s why it’s beneficial to inquire about any savings you might qualify for when repairing or replacing your HVAC system. Also, look for what financing and leasing options the contractor offers as a better way to cover sudden HVAC services following a storm.
Do you need a proven contractor to fix your HVAC system after a natural disaster? You can’t go wrong with Matz-Rightway. We are a national company with hometown heart, a combination that helps us stay above the competition. If you appreciate good prices, lasting results and complete satisfaction, we can meet your needs to a tee. Get a hold of your local Matz-Rightway office for help checking and repairing your HVAC system.