Extreme weather can appear anywhere, so most homeowners have experienced with some degree of storm damage. Hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and hail can affect many portions of your property, such as the landscape, roof, siding and windows.
Heavy winds and water damage are also common concerns for outdoor heating and cooling systems. In dangerous weather, units may be forced out of position, often falling over and causing damage to electrical systems and refrigerant lines. Even when systems manage to stay upright, they will sometimes collect mud and other materials, which must be removed before they can operate correctly.
For your safety when examining 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 understanding who to hire for the job. After all, any random individual with a truck can argue they're an HVAC technician. Someone unqualified and tampering with your system may make matters worse, and overcharge you and then vanish without a trace.
Incidents like these may escalate after storm cleanup. To avoid being taken advantage of, learn the top six questions to share when hiring a heating and cooling contractor.
1. Are you licensed, insured and certified?
Many states implement licensing and insurance requirements for HVAC contractors. This offers peace of mind that whoever works on the equipment has the correct training and coverage if an accident occurs. Additional 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 decades of service alone doesn’t guarantee a contractor will do a better job, it shows that they are experienced enough to stay in business for the long term. If you can, look into the company’s name online to determine that they’re telling the truth about their experience.
At the same time, look up the contractors you’re considering on Google and other third-party review websites. Testimonials from prior customers present a good idea of what to expect.
For even more definite answers, check with potential contractors for the contact details of past customers. As you call these references and check online reviews, look for answers to these questions:
- Did the contractor complete the job on time?
- Did the contractor leave the customer feeling satisfied?
- Was the total bill the same cost as the starting estimate?
- Did a live person always answer calls, or did an answering machine pick up?
3. Are the technicians background-checked and drug-tested?
You deserve confidence that the HVAC technicians who perform 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 ruin your HVAC system, you might need a new one. However, it isn’t enough to just swap out one furnace and air conditioner for another. After all, a comfort system is only as good as the ductwork it’s attached to. So if you’re thinking about HVAC replacement following a storm, ask potential contractors these questions:
- Do you offer heat loss/gain evaluations?
- Do you assess insulation levels and air leaks?
- Do you check the duct system to ensure proper sizing and configuration?
5. Can I get an estimate in writing?
A written, itemized estimate is essential when comparing bids from multiple HVAC contractors. Look for a company that provides free estimates and trustworthy, direct pricing. Also, don't forget to ask whether the company charges hourly or per job so you know what you’re paying for. Just keep in mind that the lowest bid isn’t always the best deal, particularly if it’s considerably lower than the majority. It’s likely that the contractor will either cut corners to make the price attractive or sneak in hidden fees at the end.
6. Do you have any special offers?
Getting your HVAC system back to normal after a severe storm isn’t always low cost. That’s why it’s worthwhile to inquire about any savings you might qualify for when repairing or replacing your equipment. Also, figure out what financing and leasing options the contractor carries as a better way to pay for unanticipated HVAC services following a storm.
Choose BW/Cook Service Experts
Do you need a proven contractor to restore your HVAC system after unexpected flooding? You can’t go wrong with BW/Cook Service Experts. We are a national company with hometown heart, a formula that helps us stay in front of the competition. If you appreciate affordable prices, lasting results and complete satisfaction, we can meet your needs to a tee. Contact your local BW/Cook Service Experts office for help inspecting and servicing your HVAC system.