Severe weather can happen wherever, so most homeowners are familiar with storm damage. Hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and hail can affect many portions of your property, like the landscape, roof, siding and windows.
High winds and floods are also common problems for outdoor heating and cooling equipment. In severe weather, equipment may be thrust out of position, even toppling over and damaging electrical systems and refrigerant lines. Even when systems remain upright, they will sometimes collect mud and other sediment, which has to be cleaned out before they can operate properly.
For your safety when assessing your storm-damaged home, don’t start the HVAC system until after it's received the all-clear from a heating and cooling technician. The trick is identifying who to hire for the job. After all, any random guy with a truck can claim they're an HVAC technician. An unqualified person tampering with your system may make matters worse, and overcharge you and then disappear without a trace.
Incidents like these often escalate around storm cleanup. To avoid being exploited, learn about the top six questions to share when hiring a heating and cooling contractor.
1. Are you licensed, insured and certified?
Many states have implemented licensing and insurance requirements for HVAC contractors. This offers peace of mind that anyone who works on the equipment has the proper training and coverage in the event an accident unfolds. Continued ACE certification only further assists a contractor’s ability to provide high-quality service.
2. What can you tell me about your experience and reputation?
While longevity alone doesn’t promise a contractor will do a great job, it shows that they are skilled enough to stay in business for the long term. If you're able to, search for the company’s name online to confirm that they’re telling the truth about their experience.
While you’re at it, look up the contractors you’re thinking about on Google and other third-party review websites. Feedback from past customers present a good idea of what to expect.
For even more definite answers, check with potential contractors for the contact information of prior customers. As you contact these references and check online reviews, seek out answers to these questions:
- Did the contractor end the job on time?
- Did the contractor leave the customer feeling satisfied?
- Was the total bill the same amount as the starting estimate?
- Did a live person always answer calls, or did an answering machine pick up?
3. Are your technicians background-checked and drug-tested?
You want reassurance that the HVAC professionals who complete the work are clean, reliable and safe to have around your family. For complete peace of mind, talk to the contractor if background checks and drug tests are mandated before bringing new hires to the team.
4. Can you evaluate the entire home heating and cooling system?
If the storm damage is significant enough to destroy your HVAC system, you will sometimes need another one. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to merely swap out one furnace and air conditioner for others. After all, an HVAC system is only as efficient as the ductwork it’s attached to. So if you’re looking at HVAC replacement soon after a storm, ask potential contractors these questions:
- Do you perform heat loss/gain evaluations?
- Do you assess insulation levels and air leaks?
- Do you determine the duct system to provide correct sizing and configuration?
5. Can I get an estimate in writing?
A written, itemized estimate is vital when exploring bids from different HVAC contractors. Try to find a company that provides free estimates and honest, up-front pricing. Also, make sure to ask whether the company charges by the hour or per job so you know what you’re paying for. Just remember that the most affordable bid isn’t necessarily the best deal, namely if it’s far lower than the rest. Odds are the contractor may try to cut corners to make the price attractive or surprise you with hidden fees at the end.
6. Do you have any special discounts?
Getting your HVAC system back to normal after a severe storm isn’t always inexpensive. That’s why it’s worthwhile to inquire about any savings you may qualify for when repairing or replacing your HVAC system. Also, find out what financing and leasing options the contractor offers as a stress-free way to pay for unexpected HVAC services following a storm.
Choose Norrell Service Experts
Do you need a reputable contractor to fix your HVAC system after a natural disaster? You can’t go wrong with Norrell Service Experts. We are a national company with hometown heart, a combination that helps us stay ahead of the competition. If you prioritize affordable prices, long-lasting results and complete satisfaction, we can meet your needs to a tee. Contact your local Norrell Service Experts office for help examining and fixing your HVAC system.