Severe weather can roll in wherever, so the bulk of homeowners have experienced with some degree of storm damage. Hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and hail can damage many aspects of your property, including the landscape, roof, siding and windows.
Strong winds and water damage are also major issues for outdoor heating and cooling systems. In extreme weather, units may be pushed out of position, even falling on their sides and breaking electrical systems and refrigerant lines. Even if systems remain upright, they will sometimes amass mud and other sediment, which has to be cleaned out before they can work like they're supposed to.
For your safety when evaluating your storm-damaged home, don’t start the HVAC system until it has received the all-clear from a heating and cooling contractor. The trick is understanding 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 heating and cooling might make matters worse, plus overcharge you and then leave without a trace.
Situations like these often escalate around storm cleanup. To avoid being exploited, here are the top six questions to share 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 whoever is working on your system has the correct training and coverage in case 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 decades of service alone doesn’t offer a promise that a contractor will do a better job, it demonstrates that they are proficient enough to remain in business for the long term. If you're able to, look into 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. Reviews from previous customers give you a better idea of what to expect.
For even more comprehensive answers, check with potential contractors for the contact info of past customers. As you contact these references and look over online reviews, seek out answers to these questions:
- Did the contractor finish the job on time?
- Did the contractor leave the customer feeling satisfied?
- 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 deserve confidence that the HVAC professionals who complete the work are clean, trustworthy and safe to have around your family. For total peace of mind, check with the contractor if background checks and drug tests are required before adding new hires to the team.
4. Can you assess the entire home comfort system?
If the storm damage is severe enough to wipe out your HVAC system, you will sometimes need another one. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to merely swap out one furnace and air conditioner for another. After all, an HVAC system is only as efficient as the ductwork it’s attached to. 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 guarantee proper sizing and configuration?
5. Can I get an estimate in writing?
A written, itemized estimate is crucial when comparing bids from multiple HVAC contractors. Try to get a company that offers free estimates and transparent, up-front pricing. Also, don't forget to ask whether the company charges hourly or per job so you know what you’re paying for. Just remember that the most affordable bid isn’t always the best deal, especially if it’s considerably lower than the rest. Chances are the contractor may try to cut corners to make the price attractive or sneak in 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 beneficial to request any savings you might qualify for when repairing or replacing your equipment. Also, look for what financing and leasing options the contractor offers as a better way to afford unanticipated HVAC services after a storm.
Choose Becht/Givens Service Experts
Do you need a proven contractor to restore your HVAC system after a natural disaster? You can’t go wrong with Becht/Givens Service Experts. We are a national company with hometown heart, a formula that helps us stay above the competition. If you prioritize affordable prices, long-lasting results and complete satisfaction, we can meet your needs to a tee. Contact your local Becht/Givens Service Experts office for help inspecting and servicing your HVAC system.