There’s little doubt that summer is in full swing in north Georgia, and there’s also little doubt that if you intend to make it through the summer in one piece you’ll need a fully functional air conditioning unit.
Whether you have a worn out HVAC system or are building a new house or business, you will need the cool air flowing for the next few months. And you need to know that it is not going to fail, freeze up or provide you with an inadequate air flow.
With that in mind, how do you determine the right AC installer for your needs?
How do you ensure you will get a HVAC unit that can do the job, maintain efficiency and be repaired quickly and expertly should something happen?
Not all AC installers are the same. Sure, there are plenty of qualified companies out there that are capable of putting in an HVAC unit — in northeast Georgia alone there literally dozens of options. But how do you know you will get what you pay for, and how do you know you can rely on their service options?
Here’s a list of red flags of what to avoid when selecting an AC installer:
Make sure your potential AC installer is fully licensed
HVAC companies need to know lots of detail about a lot of minute parts and lines. If someone doesn’t know all the safety regulations, they could end up causing a lot more problems than a malfunctioning HVAC. That is why all top-line AC retailers have their state license. A contractor should have their license number clearly marked on most, if not all, of their literature and on their website. Make sure you look for it and then look it up on the state’s official website.
Don’t trust a company willing to give you an estimate over the phone or email
Any HVAC company worth its salt will need to come out and see every detail of your house/business, taking a look at ductwork, supplies and returns, square footage, size and age of the house, crawl space and attic — as well as the outside (how much shade covers your property for instance). They will also conduct a Manual-J calculation for your air conditioning system. All of this must be done in person and on-site. And if you’re building a house or business, they will need blueprints and all the details you can provide.
Make sure you get a brand new system
If your old HVAC system is worn out you want to replace it with something brand new. Air conditioners are not like cars that can provide plenty of miles even in used condition. Certainly proper maintenance will — just like a car — keep your HVAC running better longer. But even the most perfectly maintained HVAC unit has a shelf life of 10-15 years. There’s also the likelihood that, if someone is trying to sell you an older unit, they’re likely trying to offload older material that’s been sitting in a warehouse.
Don’t rely on a company that talks only about the past
Having experience in the AC field is important. But it’s not the only thing. And companies that don’t also note that their technicians and management are continuously learning about the latest industry technology may be behind the times. The HVAC field is constantly evolving with new technology. You want an AC installer that has both experience and a full-eyed view of what is developing in the industry. That will help ensure you get the latest and most efficient system.
Obtain a written estimate(s)
Some contractors might try to give you a verbal estimate. Don’t take that. Make sure you get it in writing so that you have a binding contract. That way if someone tries to add erroneous fees and charges you have evidence that, worse come to worse, could be presented in court. The odds of this happening are slim, but better to be safe than sorry.
Trust Google reviews over Yelp or similar sites
It’s very hard, almost impossible to “game the system” on Google and post false reviews of a business or experience. Google also does not filter its reviews, so you’re more likely to get an honest look at how company X performed. Yelp filters its reviews, so you may not be getting the whole picture.
The cheapest bid might not be the best bid
It’s a cliche as old as time, but it’s pretty much nailed on — you get what you pay for. We’re not suggesting you opt for the most expensive AC installer. But selecting the cheapest option may end up costing you more in the long run. And, if you get multiple bids, you should have a thorough look at each and go with the HVAC installation company that not only knows its stuff but the one that impresses you the most.
Go with the company that is willing to talk with you
You’ll need to form a good relationship with your AC installer, because the best companies will want to maintain your business for life, establishing a relationship that will last through maintenance, (if necessary) repairs, and, eventually, a new install. To that end, you’ll want a company willing to make you a part of the process and takes you through the details (as many as you want, anyway), rather than just treating you as ignorant or as someone to be kept at arm’s length. Granted, you may not want to talk much about what HVAC system you need. But an informed customer is always a happier customer, and you want someone willing to talk with you and shoot you straight.