Start to Finish: A Full Guide to Choosing the Right HVAC Service

Michael Graw
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning services
Heating and cooling are two of the biggest expenses that every homeowner faces. Most of us would say the cost is worth the comfort we get from keeping our home at the right temperature. But, you don’t want to spend more than you need to, so it’s important to keep your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system in good working order.

That means scheduling annual maintenance and starting to think about replacing your system once it gets to be more than 10 years old. Importantly, HVAC repairs and maintenance isn’t a DIY project for most homeowners. You’ll need a professional contractor you can rely on to ensure your system is running smoothly and efficiently.

There are a lot of HVAC contractors, but they vary widely in quality, professionalism, cost, and more. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know when choosing the right HVAC service for your home.

Look for Licensing and Experience

HVAC systems aren’t just expensive to run. They’re also among the most costly components in your home. It’s essential that whoever you hire to work on them has the knowledge and experience required for the job.

The easiest way to ensure you’re getting an HVAC contractor who knows what they’re doing is to get one who is licensed in your state. Most states have tight licensing requirements, mandating that HVAC service providers train for several years and pass a certification exam.

Any HVAC service you use should also carry insurance. That protects both you and them in case something goes wrong with a job. With an insurance policy in place, you’re not liable if a contractor is injured while working in your home and you’re guaranteed that any accidental damage to your home will be repaid.

See What Brands They Carry

Every heating and air conditioning brand is slightly different, which means that technicians need to be trained in order to offer them. As a result, some contractors only carry a few brands or models, while others carry a very wide range. If you don’t have a specific HVAC brand in mind for your home, a good place to start is just to make sure your prospective servicer carries some popular brand names.

Ask for In-home Evaluations

Any HVAC service worth its salt will visit your home and fully evaluate your HVAC system before giving you a quote. The cost of an HVAC system is about a lot more than just the size of your home. It also depends on the type of ducts you have, how much insulation your home is built with, and even how many windows you have.

Without seeing your home and inspecting your current HVAC equipment, there’s simply no way for a contractor to reasonably know what a project will cost. If you find a contractor that doesn’t offer free in-home estimates, look for an alternative service.

In addition, make sure that you get an itemized quote from an HVAC service at the end of the estimate. If you get multiple evaluations from different contractors, comparing the written quotes makes it much easier to figure out why the pricing might be different. If you do decide to go ahead with a project, having the written quote is important so that you can refer back to it as the project progresses.

Check their References

Any good HVAC contractor will have customers who are willing to speak on their behalf. When you have a prospective contractor over to your home for an evaluation, make sure to ask them for the names and numbers of past clients you can talk to. Ideally, they’ll have some clients who needed a system installation or repair that’s similar to what you’re requesting.

Then, follow up with these homeowners. Ask how the system has been working for them and if they had a good experience with the HVAC company. Was the contractor professional and was the project completed on time and on budget? Would they use that same contractor again for a future HVAC system repair? These questions can help you get a better sense of whether a contractor can deliver on their promises.

Of course, you can and should also turn to online reviews. A contractor is likely to refer you to their most satisfied customers. Online reviews can reveal whether all of their clients end up happy or only a few.

Find out about Energy Efficient Systems

Energy efficiency is a huge deal when it comes to HVAC systems. An efficient system requires less power to produce the same heating and cooling, which can end up saving you a ton of money over the long-run. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that energy efficiency systems are better for the environment.

Most HVAC services are now offering installations of energy-efficient systems. If you’re not sure, ask your prospective contractor whether they offer Energy Star-rated equipment and how much it costs. If you’re on a budget, consider whether an HVAC company is willing to mix-and-match Energy Star and non-Energy Star equipment to keep costs down.

Consider Annual Maintenance

Annual maintenance, typically in the spring or fall, is important for every HVAC system. In fact, many pieces of equipment, like your air conditioning and heating units, must be inspected once a year by a licensed professional in order to maintain the manufacturer’s warranty.

Given this, it’s important to make sure an HVAC service provides annual check-ups for all its customers. If they don’t, you’re going to end up having to find another HVAC contractor once your initial project is done—and start the search, evaluation, and reference-checking process all over again.

Finding the Right HVAC Service

Getting the best HVAC service for your home can save you time and money, not to mention make the process of upgrading your heating and air conditioning much less stressful. Thankfully, there are many high-quality and professional HVAC services available no matter where you live. With the tips we provided, you can easily find the right HVAC contractor for any job.

Michael Graw
Michael Graw is a freelance writer and journalist based in the Pacific Northwest