Bad weather can appear just about anywhere, so most homeowners have experienced with some degree of storm damage. Hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and hail can impact many portions of your property, including the landscape, roof, siding and windows.
High winds and flooding are also significant issues for outdoor heating and cooling systems. In extreme weather, units will sometimes be thrust out of position, often falling over and damaging electrical systems and refrigerant lines. Even if systems manage to stay upright, they can collect mud and other materials, which needs to be cleaned out before they can work like they're supposed to.
For your safety when evaluating your storm-damaged home, don’t turn on the HVAC system until it's gotten the all-clear from a heating and cooling technician. The trick is understanding who to hire for the job. After all, any random person with a truck can claim to be an HVAC technician. An unqualified person tampering with your heating and cooling might make matters worse, and overcharge you and then disappear without a trace.
Incidents like these often escalate after storm cleanup. To avoid being taken advantage of, learn about the top six questions to ask when hiring a heating and cooling contractor.
1. Are you licensed, insured and certified?
The majority of states have implemented licensing and insurance requirements for HVAC contractors. This delivers peace of mind that whoever is working on the equipment has the appropriate training and coverage in the event an accident unfolds. Extra ACE certification only further helps a contractor’s capability to provide high-quality service.
2. What can you tell me about your experience and reputation?
While length of service alone doesn’t promise a contractor will do a better job, it indicates that they are experienced enough to stay 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.
While you’re at it, look into the contractors you’re interested in on Google and other third-party review websites. Feedback from past customers give you a good idea of what to expect.
For even more definite answers, inquire with potential contractors for the contact information of prior customers. As you call these references and look over online reviews, seek out answers to the following questions:
- Did the contractor finish the job on time?
- Did the contractor leave the customer feeling comfortable?
- Was the total 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 like reassurance that the HVAC staff who perform the work are clean, reliable and safe to have around your family. For complete peace of mind, ask the contractor if background checks and drug tests are required before adding new hires to the team.
4. Can you assess the entire home heating and cooling system?
If the storm damage is severe enough to wipe out your HVAC system, you might need another one. That said, it isn’t enough to merely swap out one furnace and air conditioner for another. After all, a comfort system is only as efficient as the ductwork attached to it. So if you’re thinking about HVAC replacement soon after a storm, ask potential contractors the following questions:
- Do you perform heat loss/gain evaluations?
- Do you assess insulation levels and air leaks?
- Do you investigate the duct system to provide correct sizing and configuration?
5. Can I get an estimate in writing?
A written, itemized estimate is crucial when comparing bids from different HVAC contractors. Try to get a company that includes free estimates and transparent, up-front pricing. Also, don't forget to ask if the company charges by the hour or per job so you know what you’re paying for. Just be aware that the most affordable bid isn’t necessarily the best deal, particularly if it’s much lower than the others. It’s likely that the contractor may try to cut corners to make the price attractive or tack on hidden fees at the end.
6. Do you have any special promotions?
Getting your HVAC system back to normal after a severe storm isn’t always cheap. That’s why it’s advisable to ask about any savings you may qualify for when repairing or replacing your HVAC system. Also, find out what financing and leasing options the contractor carries as an easier way to cover unexpected HVAC services as a result of a storm.
Choose Strogen's Service Experts
Do you need a proven contractor to fix your HVAC system after a natural disaster? You can’t go wrong with Strogen's Service Experts. We are a national company with hometown heart, a formula that helps us stay in front of the competition. If you prioritize fair prices, long-lasting results and total satisfaction, we can meet your needs to a tee. Contact your local Strogen's Service Experts office for help inspecting and fixing your HVAC system.