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  1. #1

    Finding Quality HVAC Service Providers

    I know there are quality HVAC shops and technicians out there in my area, but I can't afford to keep having incompetent, sloppy and expensive service visits. On most things around the home, I do it myself because I can control the cost and quality and if I make a mistake, I know it's my fault and nobody elses' HVAC does take specialized knowledge and generally doesn't act up often (if properly installed and maintained) but when it fails I expect competent service and not expensive parts changers. In five years I've needed two service calls. Once on my boiler and once on my AC and both times the servicing company (different companies) was more interested in taking their sweet time to repair while their sales department tried to convince me of the benefits of installing a new system. Sure, there probably are some benefits to a new system but my current systems were reparable and while not the world's most efficient, they remain suitable for my needs. Now both times I used large shops. The techs seem to care little about meeting appointments or even calling to let you know that they are delayed and when they needed a part the return visit took 3 or 4 days. While I was waiting for them to return with the needed part, the sales department was pushing a new system. Small shops seem to be forever booked and because they have heavy workloads relative to their size, a couple that I spoke to limit themselves to small geographic areas (not a bad idea, especially with high fuel costs).

    So, here's the question. Other than just biting the bullet and dealing with the techs that don't care and businesses trying to maximize their revenue, what works for obtaining reasonable service? I'm starting to consider installing a new system and I don't want to establish a relationship with the kind of shops I've encountered so far. Any suggestions? Is there a FAQ on selecting HVAC shops?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    21
    Check with your local electric utility to see if they do a customer satisfaction survey for AC contractors. Florida Power and Light does this. On web you can select a contractor for your zip code. Check with your utility web site.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    415
    Start to interview different contractors. Do your home work and make a list of questions to ask the contractors. Although there is no guarentee that an ACCA contractor is the best, I do believe it's a good place to start. http://www.acca.org/consumer/choosing/
    For a start on the process see this document.
    http://www.acca.org/Files/?id=186
    When in doubt of the information you are given you can always run it by the contributers here.
    Get an energy audit, the better insulated and air sealed your house is the smaller the HVAC system needs to be saving you more on both the front and back end.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    2,677
    best way to find a good contractor is from friends and neighbors in your area, and if they are on any lists like posted above. Word of mouth is our #1 advertisement 9 times out of 10.
    You can't fix stupid

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    415
    cmajerus, I respectfully disagree. The typical homeowner does not have the technical background to know a quality installation. For that matter it seems most HVAC installers do not have the technical background either. Most systems I find have major errors in installation and these are from the other "top companies". These include; restricted return air, undersized ducts, over sized equipment, leaky ducts, improper charge, noise, poor humidity control, poor temp range between rooms, back drafting equipment... and so on. When you start testing systems for performance you find that most are significantly deficient. Homeowners can only gauge their experience by how the company treats them. While this is important the long term problems from a bad install will cost the homeowner in comfort, reliability, and efficiency every time the unit runs. If the system blows cold air when it's hot out or hot air when it's cold out most homeowners think it was a good job. I would still stress to find a contractor that will show you that the system is working to it's best ability after the job is installed. I believe now it is even more important to verify performance with energy cost on the rise.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Toledo, Ohio, United States
    Posts
    12,901
    Call Twilli one hour heating and cooling
    No Heat No Cool You need Action Fast

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    2,677
    Quote Originally Posted by mbarson View Post
    cmajerus, I respectfully disagree. The typical homeowner does not have the technical background to know a quality installation. For that matter it seems most HVAC installers do not have the technical background either. Most systems I find have major errors in installation and these are from the other "top companies". These include; restricted return air, undersized ducts, over sized equipment, leaky ducts, improper charge, noise, poor humidity control, poor temp range between rooms, back drafting equipment... and so on. When you start testing systems for performance you find that most are significantly deficient. Homeowners can only gauge their experience by how the company treats them. While this is important the long term problems from a bad install will cost the homeowner in comfort, reliability, and efficiency every time the unit runs. If the system blows cold air when it's hot out or hot air when it's cold out most homeowners think it was a good job. I would still stress to find a contractor that will show you that the system is working to it's best ability after the job is installed. I believe now it is even more important to verify performance with energy cost on the rise.
    Right, but if the BBB list X Inc. on their list and you have 3 neighbors that tell you they're a hack company, then you know to avoid them. Granted, like you said there are plenty of hack jobs that the customers are happy with because they don't know any better, I know of one or 2 XXXX certified companies that are the biggest hack shops around and because this or that certification says they are elite people find out the hard way that they are a joke.


    Heck I have worked with guys that can pass every written test out there that gives them a certificate that makes them a supertech on paper, but have a hell of a time figuring out which direction to twist to remove a lightbulb
    You can't fix stupid

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