Houston Heating, Cooling, and Electrical

What To Look For In An A/C Contractor

What to Look for in an A/C Contractors

Consumers shopping for an air conditioner tend to focus on the technology, its features and efficiency, but your choice in an A/C contractor will also determine how well your new system operates. According to research compiled by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), improper HVAC installation could reduce the system’s efficiency by up to 30 percent. NIST cited issues like oversizing the system, improperly charging refrigerant and restricting airflow as the reasons for most efficiency drags.

HVAC systems are one of the most mechanically complex systems found in most homes and businesses. If they aren’t installed by a knowledgeable contractor, it could cost thousands more in the long run. Knowing what to look for in an A/C contractor is essential to getting what you pay for with a new A/C system.

The Costs of a Poor Installation

Reduced efficiency is just one reason to avoid a shoddy installation, but improper HVAC installation can also lead to the following:

  • Poor performance – A bad installation typically leads to leaks and flow resistance, which can arise anywhere in the system. Issues like these mean that cold air isn’t making it into the building, and that means the occupants aren’t comfortable. When this occurs, it’s not always obvious why the air conditioner is struggling, and home and business owners may bring in window units or run their system more often to restore comfort. This is an expensive solution that could be avoided by installing the air conditioner right the first time.
  • Shortened system life – When installed correctly, a new HVAC system should last between 10 and 15 years. When a new HVAC system isn’t installed correctly, the additional wear and strain placed on the technology will cause it to fail earlier. There’s no telling what could go out first if there are significant airflow restriction issues. It could be the blower fan, it could be the ductwork, it could be the compressor itself – the list goes on. The important point is that a bad installation will potentially shave years off of your air conditioner’s functional life, which means you’ll be spending thousands to replace it much earlier than you should.

Home and business owners need a reputable contractor handling their A/C installation. The question is, how can you find such a contractor?

What a Reputable A/C Contractor Looks Like

There are many air conditioner installers out there that aren’t licensed, insured or even educated in HVAC technology. This is unfortunately common, and you’ll want to avoid it. Here’s how you do that:

1. Only consider licensed contractors – Installed HVAC systems comes with risks, to the worker and to the environment. Licensed contractors are trained to mitigate or remove those risks entirely. During installation, technicians may need to work with gas lines, electrical wiring or plumbing, and a contractor can’t attain their license without showing expertise with each. You don’t want an installer that doesn’t know how to dispose of used refrigerant safely, and you don’t want someone messing around with gas lines if they don’t know exactly what they are doing. They could leave a gas line open and put your family at risk.

Licensed contractors have demonstrated proficiency in HVAC system installation, including how to do it safely.

2. Only consider contractors that will provide an in-person bid – There’s never a good reason for a contractor to provide an estimate over the phone. Every HVAC system has its own quirks and layout, and there’s much more to consider than just the HVAC system. The building’s layout, the windows, the state of the system’s ducting – these are essential considerations when sizing a system, and they can’t be communicated over the phone. If a contractor relies on phone estimates, they aren’t doing the proper work in fitting an air conditioner to the property.

3. Only agree to a contract in writing – It should be 100 percent clear what you’re being charged for during installation, and it should be provided in writing. Agreeing to something verbally only leaves the home or business owner vulnerable to being scammed.

4. Do not shop for contractors solely based on price – Yes, installation costs are going to be factored in, and they should. However, there’s a lot of room for contractors to cut corners prior to and during installation, and when you get a bid that’s much lower than the average, chances are good that that contractor is cutting corners. Cutting corners may mean buying used equipment on the cheap and advertising it as new, or it may mean hiring unskilled labor to handle the installation. It doesn’t matter how the contractor is cutting corners, because it will end up costing the home or business owner more.

There’s nothing wrong with prioritizing price, but if a contractor is offering a number that is considerably below what other contractors are offering, it’s probably too good to be true.

An HVAC system is essential for comfort and safety, so it should only be handled by a trustworthy contractor. Pick one that’s licensed, straightforward and driven to do the job the right way.


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