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How to Choose the Right HVAC Contractor
How to pick an HVAC contractor is an important concept to learn because not all builders are the same. Doing your research may mean the difference between getting a sound, professionally installed air conditioner and just plain getting ripped off. Consider it, are mechanics the same? What about all physicians? HVAC contractors, in particular, have a poor reputation, and in our experience, this is well deserved. In Florida, the bad rap is for one simple reason…most of them aren’t actually contractors, but instead, a couple of handymen with a truck and a decal. But don’t let that turn you away from that air conditioning installation job — not all contractors are bad. In actuality, there are many of us out. Let’s take a look. In this guide, we will show you seven tips to help you stay out of trouble, and ensure that your air conditioner keeps running to come.
7 Tips on How to Select a Fort Myers HVAC Contractor
1. Be cautious of an HVAC contractor that provides you a bid or an estimate over the phone.
Just as no two cars are the same, no two air conditioning units will be the same. Be skeptical of any HVAC contractor that tries to give a bid over the telephone or an estimate to you. There are far too many factors that a tech can’t see the phone over? Are the amount of registers available in each area? Which type of insulation do you have? What kind of windows do you have? …and a dozen other factors…and after all of that, a trained HVAC contractor will then do a Manual-J calculation to your ac system. None of this can be done so if someone offers you a bid on the telephone, without using gas and the time required for a visit, they are either inexperienced or are attempting to gain your business. Also be wary of anyone who gives you a bid without surveying your house when they get there. A true contractor crawl spaces, will crawl in your attic and walk round the house. Then they are not properly inspecting your house for their Manual J calculation if they don’t do this.
2. Be mindful of any HVAC contractor that replaces your old air conditioner with the type of unit.
The average air conditioning unit lasts 10-15 years. Is a 1990 Hyundai Sonata exactly the same as a 2005 Hyundai Sonata? It’s the same with your air conditioner. A trained HVAC contractor will recommend several options increase the efficiency of your home, and to bring your house up to date.
If they try and sell you an older version, they’re likely trying to unload some of their own stock. Why stock is kept by All Systems Mechanical that is; we use the units in the marketplace, and will customize the ac unit for your home. Make sure your contractor purchases a system new for your property, rather than using inventory if you don’t live near Santa Clarita or Greater Los Angeles. It is rare to have the exact system you need for your house lying in a warehouse, and not all AC units are the same. In actuality, choosing the proper size is far more significant than the make and model.
3. In regards to experienced your HVAC contractor is, take it with a grain of salt.
At Pioneer Heating and Air Conditioning, we now have over 15 years of HVAC experience, but we’d also be the first to warn you that experience is not everything! Be wary of someone who is telling you that they’ve been “doing things this way for twenty years” this is because, the ac business, like all technology, is ever-changing. You will find exciting and new technologies that are more efficient at cooling and reduce your utility costs. Be sure your contractor is well-versed in cutting-edge technology, such as the HVAC control units that are most up-to-date — a computer that runs your home or the AC system for you, programmable with preferences and schedules of business. Experience is important, but it isn’t everything. In actuality, a number of our most gifted technicians have a computer background and are in their twenties (scary, I know).
4. Your Fort Myers HVAC contractor should be licensed by the Florida State License Board.
Unfortunately, many HVAC contractors claim to be licensed but are now working under the radar. There’s too much at stake, and there is a licensed HVAC contractor licensed to control gas lines in addition to plumbing and electrical applications — we have to be experts in each to get accredited. You don’t want a person who isn’t shutting off your gas line, or disposing of refrigerant. It is a huge problem in Florida and is tantamount to a physician operating.
A contractor should have their permit number clearly marked on most, if not all, of the literature and on their site. Without a license, there is no insurance that the job will be done correctly if it isn’t, or that you could take recourse! Do not trust.
5. Your HVAC contractor should give you a written bid or estimate.
Some people like to give you a bid via a “verbal contract.” Although this is approved in Florida try and prove it in court some contractors do this and you will see. In short, always get it in writing. Any respectable HVAC contractor will give you a written bid that they will adhere to. It should include a list of everything that will be done, as well as the price.
6. Read Online Prevent Yelp and Google Reviews!
Google does not filter their testimonials and makes it quite tricky to write fake reviews, which is exactly what makes it a good, dependable source for choosing an HVAC company. Conversely, Yelp filters their testimonials using “proprietary software.” If you scroll down to any business’s Yelp page, you will see a small gray link that says “other reviews that are not currently recommended.” Click this, and see the reviews all that Yelp filtered out. Yelp is now involved that these reviews may be altered based on whether or not the company is a customer that is paying. All I know is that there are an awful lot of reviews on the market. What I will say is that we encountered difficulties when we refused to pay them, although look, it is not my point to go off on a tangent about Yelp. Bottom line — Yelp filters their testimonials — Google does not.
Regardless of what you think, I would recommend going with the choice that has NO doubts — Google. No, I wasn’t paid to mention that, if paid, and Google will never pay people or change their testimonials — that is exactly why I like and recommend them. Research your local HVAC contractors on Google and see how they match up.
Also be suspicious of anyone that has a slew of reviews but are a “small local company.” Use your gut. Even though it is hard to write fake reviews on Google (since Google sees everything), some companies do give people a discount if they write a five-star review about them. The point is, just use some common sense! Pick your review site and do a great deal of research! Who you get to install your air conditioner is more important than which equipment you select.
7. Be Cautious About Going with the Lowest Bidder…It Costs More in the Long Run.
It is heartbreaking when we encounter somebody who just had a brand new air conditioner installed, and they’re calling us out to see why it stopped working. Unfortunately, about 25-30% of our residential business in 2015 came from fixing botched installations from “bargain contractors.” I always tell people never to skimp on HVAC. I know that this sounds like self-promotion but think about it…it is literally the only mechanical system on your residence. It is not a water pipe or a coat of paint — it is a machine with moving parts that will (hopefully) be running for 10 or 15 years, and when it isn’t installed correctly, it will do one of two things: either it won’t keep your home properly cooled or heated, or worse yet, it will fail altogether.
So how do these deal contractors manage to install a new unit for $4,500? It’s becoming more and more prevalent in Florida, unfortunately, and it’s easy…as sad as it is, they’re a few guys in a truck, that are unlicensed or using somebody else’s license. They are using gear that is stolen from a construction site that is new, or they bought equipment off of someone and are passing it. It is, if it’s too good to be true, and you can not even buy materials and equipment for $4,500, let alone pay for technicians or liability insurance. So, be careful and listen.
What do you do? Get several bids, and go with your gut — ask, who’s going to do the job? Who do you trust? Believe me, it is cheaper in the long term, to go with the contractor upfront that is reputable, even if they are a bit more expensive — and as the HVAC contractors always are. You can not use unskilled laborers to install an air conditioner. Otherwise, you are going to spend $2,000 — $3,000 for us to resolve the problem, and since we’re taking over the job and attaching our reputation to it, we’ll literally need to uninstall and reinstall everything to make sure that it’s done properly…that is assuming you do not need new equipment. Moral of the story…if you forget everything else about this guide, remember this: just do it right the first time.
More information about Fort Myers, FL
Fort Myers is the county seat and commercial center of Lee County, Florida, United States. Fort Myers is a gateway to the Southwest Florida region and a major tourist destination within Florida. The winter homes of Thomas Edison (“Seminole Lodge”) and Henry Ford (“The Mangoes”) are a primary tourist attraction in the region. The city is named after Colonel Abraham Myers. The geographic statistical area is serviced by Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), located southeast of the city.