Severe weather can appear anywhere, so most homeowners are no strangers to storm damage. Hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and hail can damage many parts of your property, like the landscape, roof, siding and windows.
High winds and water damage are also common problems for outdoor heating and cooling systems. In dangerous weather, units will sometimes be pushed out of position, often toppling over and causing damage to 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 function like they're supposed to.
For your safety when assessing your storm-damaged home, don’t use the HVAC system until it has received the all-clear from a heating and cooling professional. The trick is understanding who to hire for the job. After all, any random person with a truck can claim they're an HVAC technician. An unqualified person tampering with your system may make matters worse, plus overcharge you and then leave without a trace.
Incidents like these tend to escalate around storm cleanup. To avoid being taken advantage of, learn the top six questions to share 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 anyone who works on your system has the appropriate training and coverage in case an accident occurs. 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 decades of service alone doesn’t promise a contractor will do a good job, it demonstrates that they are experienced 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.
At the same time, look into the contractors you’re considering on Google and other third-party review websites. Feedback from prior customers present a detailed idea of what to expect.
For even more comprehensive answers, ask potential contractors for the contact information of prior customers. As you get in touch with these references and look over online reviews, look for 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 price as the starting estimate?
- Did a live person always answer calls, or did an answering machine pick up?
3. Are new technicians background-checked and drug-tested?
You want reassurance 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 introducing new hires to the team.
4. Can you assess the entire home heating and cooling system?
If the storm damage is severe enough to ruin your HVAC system, you will sometimes need a replacement. However, it isn’t enough to just swap out one furnace and air conditioner for others. After all, a heating and cooling system is only as good as the ductwork it uses. So if you’re thinking about HVAC replacement following a storm, ask potential contractors a few questions:
- Do you offer heat loss/gain evaluations?
- Do you check insulation levels and air leaks?
- Do you check the duct system to provide correct sizing and configuration?
5. Can I get an estimate in writing?
A written, itemized estimate is essential when reviewing bids from various HVAC contractors. Try to get a company that includes free estimates and trustworthy, up-front pricing. Also, make sure to ask if the company charges by the hour or by the job so you know what you’re paying for. Just keep in mind that the most affordable bid isn’t automatically the best deal, particularly if it’s considerably lower than the rest. It’s likely that the contractor could attempt to cut corners to make the price seem fair or sneak in hidden fees at the end.
6. Do you have any special discounts?
Getting your HVAC system back online after a severe storm isn’t always low cost. That’s why it’s beneficial to ask about 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 sudden HVAC services after a storm.
Choose Stevenson Service Experts
Do you need a trusted contractor to repair your HVAC system after a nasty storm? You can’t go wrong with Stevenson Service Experts. We are a national company with hometown heart, a pairing that helps us stay ahead of the competition. If you appreciate fair prices, long-lasting results and total satisfaction, we can meet your needs to a tee. Contact your local Stevenson Service Experts office for help checking and fixing your HVAC system.