Just a homeowner, and not trying to give technical advice.
However, once you have chosen a contractor. If you happen to be around when the work is done, it's OK to watch from a distance (some may not like it) and maybe ask a question or two. But, don't hover or ask millions of questions -- or give advice (but do speak up if you see something that you absolutely know is bogus). Also, if it is a hot day, offer everyone a glass of water or two...
I got a quote via a look-up of my home's size as listed in public records. The on-site visit was to eyeball the existing AC and furnace. There was no load calculating as mention by some of the earlier posters.
If I had an energy audit done on the house, and then gave that information to the contractors giving me quotes, would I improve my chances of getting a correctly functioning system?
I'm nervous about even considering a three stage furnace that might potetially be installed and connected to ductwork that causes the furance to fail prematurely.
A Home Energy Efficiency Audit with blower door testing & use of an infrared camera, can show you where your home needs cost-effective retrofitting.
Originally Posted by kc27
Number 2; duct system & airflow would need thorough testing & analysis, don't know that I would go further than a two-stage... more to fail within the furnace. There are others here well experienced with 3-stage furnaces, I am NOT.
It also depends on how the energy consultant(sales person) address's your needs. Did they come into the house and tell you what is best for you or did the come in and ask about how you use your current system and what needs it is not meeting and then assessing other parts of the house(that they don't sell) need to be improved too!
A sales person will tell you what you need without doing any analysis
An Energy Consultant will find out what you need by doing analysis and give suggestions for other ways to save after the new HVAC is installed.
sorry guy but its all a crapshoot.
Seems like just about anyone can set themselves up as an HVAC company and stay in the business for years even when its obvious their work is substandard.
Folks say talk to your neighbors, etc for references, but how do you know your neighbor really has a decent system installed? Getting references from the contractor really doesnt help.
Getting names off of mfg's websites is a start, but more often than not these are placements -- based on sales figures, etc., not really an indication of customer satisfaction or skills.
Check BBB for complaints. Check websites like Angies List, Yelp, Kudzu, Twitter, etc.. If you've already settled on a few contractors, check them.
Ask to see a very recent install of a similar system and install scenario of the contractor's to at least have some idea of what their quality can be.
Just like anything, read and understand your contract before agreeing to anything. If you arent sure, ask. Remember, if its not written in the contract it doesnt exist. If you are presented with a non-detailed bid or something similar to a "gentleman's agreement" -- run away.
Don't sign anything until an actual installer comes out to give your place the eye. Too many times its only the salesman that comes out to price the job and the installer comes to your house blind with no idea of really what's going on or how the system is to be placed, etc..
Unfortunately, to get a good install, you will have to educate yourself on a few concepts of HVAC, as well as reading and understanding the selected equipment's install manual. I would advise you to get copies of the install manuals as soon as possible before installation begins. Make that part of your contract.
Remember, if its not in the contract it doesnt exist.
From my eyes as a customer, at least where I live, the policing of this industry is practically non-existent.
The contractor works for you. It's your home. You are the one that will have to live with any mistakes/deficiencies.
If you have the install done in fall/spring the contractor will have more time to do the install. He'll be more comfortable doing the job in 70 degree temperatures instead of working when it's 100 or 30 degrees outside. I could be wrong but I think better work gets done when contractors work in better conditions.
Not a fan of BBB in that a contractor "buys" a better rating by giving them money so bear in mind that the "rating" is somewhat of a purchased item. A business can simply join and improve their rating.....wait that kinda sounds like extortion??? I've seen businesses with horrible customer complaints and an A rating while "average joe, who does a great job" has a lower rating simply because he won't "join" them.
Make sure contractor pulls city permits.
Also, remember that a customer who is unhappy is more likely to complain than one that is satisfied is likely to praise. This seems to be even more so with the web -- you can find someone complaining about almost anything on Google, in a few seconds.
Ask for referrals. Also with my company we do before and after pics. Once install is done I come in and review everything that was done to ensure it was done right (quality control)!!! My name is on the system as I said it would do XYZ! My name comes 1st then the company & equipment come 2nd because in this business your name means everything! I want to ensure that all that I told the customer my company would do has been done and they are happy with install.
Simple 1 customer who equipment is working like it is suppose to and is doing all that it us suppose to/what I said it would will produce 3-5 good leads. Is a customer is not happy they will 10 or more people how bad things went. Again quality control comes into play. Unless the customer 100% happy with the install, I am not happy either. Myself along with my company prides itself on doing thing right. You just need to find someone/company that is willing to do this no matter what.
Amen to that Adam.
Originally Posted by adamwhatley
That is a MODEL for every contractor to follow...
Thanks, I will ask for referalls. I did use Angie's List as a starting point - hopefully that helps cut through the clutter and start with firms who had a majority of satisfied customers.
From what I read (on this forum and elsewhere on the web), the reliabilty of the furnace will be compromised by a poor installation. It seems a proper installation which starts with an accurate load calculation to assess what size equipment is needed..
This particular sales person based his load calculation off of the house's square footage, not a detailed measurement of the house's physical attributes. Since my home is small (under 1300 sq. ft,) - plus an unfinished basement, is a more detailed load calculation neccessary? I ask because I don't want to be that pain-in-the neck potential customer who scares off competent people because I am asking for overkill, or trying to tell them how to do their job.