Replacing your HVAC system is one of the biggest investments you can make to your home. When installing or replacing your home’s HVAC system, who you hire to do the work is arguably the most important decision. Using the wrong contractor can result in your unit being installed incorrectly, which will cost you more money and can even be potentially dangerous. Fixing HVAC system installation mistakes is both frustrating and costly to you as the homeowner.
So, how can you be sure you’re hiring the best HVAC contractor in Maryland? Here are five things to consider when choosing an HVAC contractor.
1) Are They Licensed, Bonded and Insured?
To work in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry requires specialized skills and training. HVAC systems consist of various mechanical parts and contractors need deep technical knowledge of how the equipment functions to properly install, maintain and repair them. Contractors also need to know how to safely work with gas and electrical components. For these reasons, the HVAC industry is highly-regulated.
Before you hire an HVAC company, you should verify if the contractor(s) meets all of the Maryland state licensing requirements. To work as an HVAC contractor in the state of Maryland, the Maryland Board of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors (HVACR) requires all contractors to be state-licensed and to carry and maintain a license bond. In addition, Maryland law requires HVAC companies to have general liability insurance and property damage insurance, to cover any accidents or injuries during the course of project work.
In short, the best first step to immediately narrows your search for a contractor is to disqualify unlicensed contractors.
2) Are Their Prices Much Lower Than Normal?
Buying a new HVAC system can be a very expensive investment. So, we understand how tempting it may be when you receive bids from contractors that are significantly lower than the rest. Our word of caution to you is to remember the adage “you get what you pay for”. Many cheaper HVAC contractors are cheap for a reason. When pricing is far below the industry average, this is usually a sign that you may be dealing with an unlicensed contractor.
With an unlicensed contractor, the company may not be licensed, their technicians may not be properly trained, and they may use inferior products. All of these shortcuts are what can allow an unlicensed contractor to quote cheaper prices than a licensed contractor. These same shortcuts also run the risk that your HVAC system could be incorrectly installed or sized wrong. An incorrectly installed or sized HVAC unit won’t function efficiently, requires frequent repairs, and will contribute to higher energy bills. These are all problems a good HVAC contractor will help you avoid by conducting a Manual J load calculation to determine the correct equipment size required for your specific home.
If saving money is your goal, rather than searching for the lowest bid, we suggest you look at reputable licensed contractors who offer discounts or promotions. This way, you can be confident you are receiving quality workmanship while still saving money.
3) How Are Their Reviews?
Before hiring an HVAC contractor in Maryland, it is always wise to do some research on the company. A good starting point is to find out how long the contractor has been in business. An established company is likely to be more experienced, stable, and have a proven track record in your area. However, this doesn’t mean that a newly established contractor will do a bad job. Choosing a long-standing contractor will just provide you with more reference points (reviews, testimonials, referrals) to determine if they are a good fit for you.
That’s why our advice is to go deep when researching a HVAC contractor you are considering hiring. Browse the company’s website, read customer reviews, and even talk to your neighbors, friends, and co-workers. Perhaps one of them had HVAC work done recently and can refer you to a good contractor.
4) Did The Contractor Inspect My Home Before Providing An Estimate?
When providing you with prices, an HVAC contractor should always assess your home first. Never accept a telephone quote. This is a red flag that you may have an unprofessional contractor. How can a contractor know what size unit to install if they don’t evaluate your home to determine it’s unique heating and cooling needs? Even if you provide the HVAC company with information about your existing unit over the phone, it doesn’t compare to an in-person quote, because what’s in your house may no longer be up to code or may have been wrong to begin with.
Another important note to remember is that your quote should not be a verbal-only quote. A professional contractor will provide you with a written estimate listing the products and parts involved. Without a written estimate, what prevents an unscrupulous contractor from issuing a final invoice that is much higher than the verbal quote they gave you over the phone?
5) Does The Contractor Offer a Guarantee and Warranty?
Another important factor to take into consideration when choosing an HVAC contractor in Maryland is to consider if they offer any product warranty or guarantees on labor. If there are problems with the system after installation or if any parts are faulty, having a good guarantee and warranty in place will save you both time and money.
A HVAC equipment warranty is a legal agreement between the part manufacturer and you. If there are faulty components or if the unit breaks down while you are under warranty, the manufacturer will cover the cost to repair or replace the part(s).
A guarantee typically comes from the actual company performing the work. It’s a promise from a contractor to ensure your HVAC equipment is repaired, replaced, or refunded if the product is damaged or something goes wrong with it. Guarantees are not as formal warranties and can vary a lot between contractors.
Finding The Best HVAC Contractor in Maryland
There are many HVAC companies in Maryland, each offering different qualities of service. Sifting through a long list of HVAC contractors may be tedious and time-consuming, but it’s worth taking the time to do some research before hiring a contractor. We’ve outlined the five things we consider most important when evaluating an HVAC contractor. We hope that this guide will make your decision easier, when searching for an HVAC contractor in Maryland.
If you’re in Maryland or any of the surrounding areas, you don’t have to look much further than Minnick’s for all of your HVAC services. We’re a family-run business with a proven track record serving the Maryland communities of Montgomery County, Howard County, Prince George’s County, Anne Arundel County, and Baltimore County. For professional HVAC installations, contact us online or call us at (301) 605-9112.
Daron is a journalist-turned-marketer passionate about how storytelling and targeted messaging create lasting connections between businesses and their customers.