A search for 'HVAC contractors near me' leaves Atlanta area homeowners with many questions. How do you determine who to hire? Your heating and cooling system includes, probably, the most expensive appliances in your home. Before you make a major investment or partner with an Atlanta HVAC contractor for service or repairs, find a reputable contractor who meets this criteria.
How to Hire a Reputable HVAC Contractor
Hiring a reputable contractor takes three steps:
- Start Your Search
- Meet with Contractors
- Choose Your Contractor
Step One: Start Your Search
There are many HVAC contractors nearby for anyone who lives in the Atlanta metro area and the surrounding communities - how do you make a choice? To narrow down the selection, seek out personal recommendations if possible.
Ask those you trust (local friends and family, neighbors, coworkers, etc.) if they have worked with any local HVAC contractors. Get an idea about the quality of work the contractor performs and the level of customer service.
If you don't have anyone local to ask, check out HVAC industry organizations such as, Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) or the Better Business Bureau for recommendations.
Reputable contractors make up the membership of these organizations. While these groups serve professionals in the industry, many are also dedicated to helping homeowners find trustworthy contractors.
Step Two: Meet with HVAC Contractors Nearby
Once you have narrowed down your list of HVAC contractors, it's time to set some appointments. For new system installation, it's good to meet with at least three contractors for estimates.
If you need quick repairs, most homeowners prefer not to wait, but be prepared to pay a service call fee to the first company if you decide to go with someone else. Most companies apply service call fees to the repairs needed. If, however, you choose a second company, the first company will probably bill you for the diagnostic time the technician spent at your home.
In-Home, Accurate Estimates Do the Math
For new installations, the HVAC contractors should visit your home to provide an estimate for the work you need. It's impossible to provide a comprehensive estimate over the phone.
They examine the home to evaluate the condition of existing equipment and components as well as your home as a whole to make the best system recommendations. Each contractor should speak with you about your comfort preferences, budget, and any issues you have with your existing system's performance.
It's crucial to take multiple variables into account to make sure they calculate the correct heating or cooling load. Don't let an HVAC contractor assume an exact replacement of your current air conditioner, furnace, or heat pump is sufficient.
Too many contractors assure customers this AC compressor, for example, is "plenty big," when in fact, it may be too big. Multiple heating and cooling problems come from a wrong-sized HVAC unit.
Step Three: Choose Your Contractor
The next step is to choose a contractor - and that doesn't mean just picking an estimate and signing. You may be able to rule out some names based on the information you gained through the meetings. Take the time to research your shortlist of contractors before you commit. Verify each contractor's state license, read over your estimate, and contact each company if you have any questions about the proposed work.
Once you choose your contractor, contact the company to sign agreements and schedule your HVAC project.
HVAC Contractor Credentials Matter
Reputable contractors have all the licenses and credentials to safely and legally work in the state of Georgia. Reputable HVAC companies are forthcoming with this information. If a contractor is hesitant to provide it or spins some long-winded story suggesting it's not necessary, it's a sign that something is wrong.
Georgia requires all air conditioning contractors to hold a valid state license. Before you hire an HVAC contractor, search the online database to make sure the contractor's license is valid. Any reputable HVAC contractor is happy to provide you with their license number, and this information is sometimes found on business websites.
Certifications & Memberships
HVAC contractors have additional opportunities to gain certification in the field through various industry training programs. A sign of a good company is one that invests in its team. It's good for the company, and for the employees, and most importantly, it provides greater expertise and a better experience for you.
- North American Technician Alliance, called NATE, is the largest independent certification organization in the industry. Technicians must pass rigorous testing to prove their knowledge of the industry and equipment, and recertify with ongoing education to keep up with industry advancements. This also helps HVAC techs repair and service any brand.
- Contractors who sell or work with specific brands of HVAC equipment often undergo specialized training directly with the manufacturer and earn special designations for their work with the brand. If you wish to purchase a specific brand of HVAC equipment, look for a contractor who has received training from the manufacturer.
Get a Written Estimate
As mentioned above, contractors visit your home to provide estimates for the HVAC work you need. Always get a written estimate after a home visit. Estimates given by phone are never accurate, as there are many factors only available through an on-site estimate. If a contractor just wants to give you a price over the phone and doesn't want to meet at your home, remove this contractor from your list.
With a written estimate in hand, you have important information needed to make a purchase decision. The written estimate should include the entire scope of work, including any additional repairs or upgrades needed.
To make fair comparisons between quoted prices, read over each estimate to see that they are each for equivalent work. Is labor included? Is there a disposal fee for old equipment? Don't worry about asking.
Skilled estimators and technicians are comfortable discussing these topics. At Estes Services, we love talking about HVAC and eagerly share what we know. When you're comfortable with the work recommended, it takes away some of the stress from the disruption and process.
Avoid Using Price as the Only Factor
Keep in mind, that price shouldn't be your only deciding factor. Prices vary greatly among HVAC equipment due to efficiency levels, performance features, and additional HVAC work needed to ensure the new system performs at its best. Many people have only looked at the bottom line and discovered the adage "you get what you pay for" to be true.
For example, ductwork expands and contracts as warm and cool air runs through it. Over years of use, ductwork develops leaks and in really old houses, materials break down.
A new air conditioner installation requires updates to or even new ductwork to meet current building codes or efficiency levels. Don't invest in a new AC and lose 40 percent of the cooled air to old, leaky ductwork. That's like throwing 40 cents of every dollar out the window!
As a customer, you want the best experience whenever you need the help of an HVAC contractor. When you search for 'HVAC contractors near me,' it's best to find one who does it all so the company is equipped to help you with things like repairs and maintenance.
Even if you need to install a new HVAC system, there are services you need down the road. Why forge a working relationship with a contractor who only wants to do installations, just to start your contractor search all over again when it's time for a maintenance tune-up?
Atlanta homeowners choose HVAC contractors who offer it all.
- Homes in these areas need both heating and cooling help - you want a company that does both.
- Your new contractor should offer repair service in case of a breakdown; consider a company with 24/7 emergency service you can depend on for after-hours help.
- As HVAC equipment requires annual maintenance, investigate HVAC companies' service plans. They ensure timely regular maintenance and may offer you additional savings on other HVAC work.
- Choose a contractor who offers labor warranties or a satisfaction guarantee for extra peace of mind you'll be satisfied with the work performed.
Customer Reviews & Years in Business
HVAC contractors in business for substantial periods of time typically give homeowners more peace of mind. Why? We've all heard the stories about shoddy workmanship and scams. On the other hand, an HVAC contractor with many years in the business is stable in the community.
They are unlikely to disappear with your money without doing the work and care about the reputation they've built along with the work required to uphold it.
One thing most people do when they search for HVAC contractors near me is to look at online reviews. These reviews can provide valuable information about the customer experience, but unfortunately, many people use online reviews as a sounding board when they have an issue.
While the review provides a one-sided story, check out the contractor's response before you make a judgment. Was their response fair and professional? Did they offer a resolution?
You're Ready to Start Your Search for a Reputable 'HVAC Contractors Near Me'
Whenever you search for 'HVAC contractors near me,' be sure to review the criteria before you make a decision on who to hire. Seek recommendations, check certifications and accreditations, get written estimates, ask questions, and regard reviews and years in business.
At Estes Services, we know our customers expect the very best. For the past 70 years, we've been happy to provide information and answer any of the questions you have regarding your search for HVAC contractors.
When you need HVAC work, Estes provides a written estimate and your work is performed by licensed, NATE-certified technicians backed by superior customer service. Contact us today to discuss your HVAC installation, repair, and service needs.