Severe weather can appear anywhere, so most homeowners have experienced with some degree of storm damage. Hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and hail can affect many parts of your property, like the landscape, roof, siding and windows.
Strong winds and water damage are also common concerns for outdoor heating and cooling equipment. In severe weather, units could be forced out of position, even falling over and damaging electrical systems and refrigerant lines. Even if systems remain upright, they may amass mud and other materials, which needs to be cleaned before they can work correctly.
For your safety when examining your storm-damaged home, don’t turn on the HVAC system until it's gotten the all-clear from a heating and cooling contractor. The trick is knowing who to hire for the job. After all, any random person with a truck can argue they're an HVAC technician. An unqualified person tampering with your system might make matters worse, not to mention overcharge you and then disappear without a trace.
Situations like these may escalate after storm cleanup. To avoid being taken advantage of, learn the top six questions to raise when hiring a heating and cooling contractor.
1. Are you licensed, insured and certified?
Most states have licensing and insurance requirements for HVAC contractors. This provides peace of mind that whoever is working on your system has the correct training and coverage in the event an accident occurs. Additional 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 length of service alone doesn’t promise a contractor will do a good job, it shows that they are skilled enough to stay in business for the long term. If you are able to, search for the company’s name online to verify that they’re telling the truth about their experience.
Simultaneously, research the contractors you’re interested in on Google and other third-party review websites. Feedback from past customers give you a good idea of what to expect.
For even more comprehensive answers, inquire with potential contractors for the contact details of prior customers. As you contact these references and check online reviews, seek answers to the following questions:
- Did the contractor end the job on time?
- Did the contractor leave the customer feeling satisfied?
- Was the final bill the same amount as the initial estimate?
- Did a live person always answer calls, or did an answering machine pick up?
3. Are your technicians background-checked and drug-tested?
You like reassurance that the HVAC staff who complete the work are clean, trustworthy and safe to have near your family. For total peace of mind, ask the contractor if background checks and drug tests are required before introducing new hires to the team.
4. Can you evaluate the entire home heating and cooling system?
If the storm damage is significant enough to destroy your HVAC system, you will sometimes need a replacement. However, it isn’t enough to merely swap out one furnace and air conditioner for others. After all, a heating and cooling system is only as efficient as the ductwork attached to it. So if you’re thinking about HVAC replacement following a storm, ask potential contractors a few questions:
- Do you perform heat loss/gain evaluations?
- Do you analyze insulation levels and air leaks?
- Do you determine the duct system to guarantee correct sizing and configuration?
5. Can I get an estimate in writing?
A written, itemized estimate is vital when comparing bids from different HVAC contractors. Try to find a company that provides free estimates and honest, up-front pricing. Also, be sure to ask if the company charges by the hour or by the job so you know what you’re paying for. Just be aware that the most affordable bid isn’t necessarily the best deal, namely if it’s considerably lower than the majority. It’s likely that the contractor will either cut corners to make the price attractive or surprise you with hidden fees at the end.
6. Do you have any special discounts?
Getting your HVAC system back to normal after a major storm isn’t always cheap. That’s why it’s advisable to ask about any savings you might qualify for when repairing or replacing your HVAC system. Also, look for what financing and leasing options the contractor can offer as a stress-free way to afford unexpected HVAC services after a storm.
Choose Donelson Air Service Experts
Do you need a trusted contractor to repair your HVAC system after a natural disaster? You can’t go wrong with Donelson Air Service Experts. We are a national company with hometown heart, a combination that helps us stay in front of the competition. If you prioritize fair prices, enduring results and total satisfaction, we can meet your needs to a tee. Get a hold of your local Donelson Air Service Experts office for help examining and fixing your HVAC system.