When your home heating and cooling system needs repair, you might be tempted to jump to the web or the yellow pages and just start dialing Heating and Air Conditioning Repair Contractors, picking the first one that says they can be there TODAY! Unfortunately, this method of choosing a contractor while you are under pressure because your air conditioner or furnace needs repair can be a recipe for disaster for you the homeowner.
When you are picking out a heating and cooling contractor there are far more important questions to have answered than just when can you be here! I am not dismissing the fact that that is an important factor especially when you are hot or cold because your ac or furnace needs to be repaired, but it can end up costing you a ton of money, stress and aggravation in the long run.
So how do you know if you 've chosen a quality Air Conditioning Contractor? It all starts with the initial phone call, but it does not stop there.
Some things to consider:
• Check their ratings, things like the Tucson BBB, Arizona Registrar of Contractors & Angie's List. Google while valuable can be manipulated to show positive reviews and is a less reliable option.
• Is the phone answered professionally and promptly (during normal working hours, if after hours take this with a grain of salt as it is impossible to control the types of employees an after hours answering service hires. be sure to alert the management / owner of the HVAC Business)
• If the call is after hours, how long does it take for someone to contact you to address your concern and provide a time frame for when they can be out to your home.
• Do they give you a clear timeframe for service and also inform you that you will receive a confirmation call prior to the technician heading to your home as a courtesy update and reminder?
Once the call has been scheduled:
• Do you receive a confirmation call? If so is the technician / dispatcher professional in their demeanor?
• Are they on-time? If you do not receive a courtesy call advising you that they are running late before their expected time of arrival?
• Because HVAC repair can be a complicated business, it is sometimes necessary for a technician to take longer on a call than expected. A quality company will respect your time as valuable and give you as much notice as possible so that you are not waiting unnecessarily for someone to show up when you can be doing other more productive things.
When the Technician arrives:
• Is he prompt and on-time? And if not did he or someone at the office call you to inform you that he was running late? Your time is valuable and a quality professional air conditioning professional will respect your time.
• Is his appearance neat, clean and professional? Is he wearing a clean uniform that clearly demonstrates a professional attention to detail?
• Is he polite and professional in his introduction to you? Does he confirm with you the reason for his visit (I'm here to complete your maintenance, repair your air conditioner or furnace etc.)?
• Does he put on shoe covers before entering your home? While a lot of people may not feel this is necessary, it is the correct thing to do for a technician and shows that he has been properly trained to respect and protect your home.
• Does the technician take a few minutes to discuss with you what you are experiencing with your system? Does he ask probing questions regarding your heating and air conditioning system and does he listen to your answers? A well trained heating and cooling technician while being the expert of repairing your cooling or heating system knows the value of listening to a customer. It may not only assist him in making the correct diagnosis, but may also alert him to other issues he can address that may otherwise be missed if he just focuses on the repair of your air conditioner or furnace.
• Once the diagnosis or maintenance is completed, do they offer to demonstrate what the problem / deficiency is, or do they show you a picture showing the necessity of the repair?
• Are they able to speak professionally and intelligently about the problem so that you can understand what needs to be done, but more importantly why? Are they educating you and backing up their findings with visual evidence and or readings from their diagnostic tools, or are they trying to sell you something?
• If you say no to one their recommendations, do they remain professional in demeanor? A quality heating and cooling contractor would never employ technicians who become aggressive or unprofessional when a homeowner chooses to decline a repair.
• Do they seek your approval before performing any work that would be chargeable beyond the diagnostic fee, no work should ever be performed without your permission.
• Do they explain the difference between a Proactive Repair, one that in their professional opinion while the system may still be operational, performing this repair will prevent future more costly breakdowns. These repairs are always a choice to be made by the customer and should never be rated as a have to! That said it is usually a good idea to perform these types of repairs if your budget will allow because they typically will save you money at a future date. A Must Repair / Life Safety Repairs are repairs that either have the system not functioning like a bad compressor, or represent a condition that could cause physical harm to you or your home such as bad wiring or cracked heat exchangers. There are also System Enhancements Upgrades that may be offered, these are always options and should be taken as suggestions and only chosen if you feel it is of value to you and your family.
• Upon completion of any repairs, or maintenance do they offer to show you the defective parts?
• Do they clean up after themselves, is your home left in as good or better condition than when the technician arrived. Did he put all of the screws into the cabinets of the air conditioner and furnace? Are all the covers correctly and left in a weather tight condition.
• Do they provide you with a professional written service ticket explaining the services performed, all charges, and any recommendations made that you have chosen not to have performed at that day.
• Does the technician take the time to make sure you do not have any questions, and if so do they answer them in a professional manner?
If you utilize this as a guide for how to pick a quality heating and cooling contractor, you should not be disappointed. While a professional contractor will perform along these guidelines without any prodding from you the homeowner, it will quickly identify areas of concern for you if they do not. It will give you a chance to seek a second opinion prior to being committed to working with an unprofessional or lackadaisical contractor.
A word of caution, price is not an indicator of professionalism of heating and cooling contractors. I've seen many high priced contractors provide very poor service to their customers and have also seen small lower priced contractors provide exemplary service for their customers. Price is not a good indicator of quality, and no matter what the price of the repair if the diagnosis is not correct or if the repair is not done approbably, it will not matter. Look for professionals that stand behind their work and who instill confidence in you that they know what they are doing, but also are willing to stand behind their work with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee!