Here are some things to consider in choosing a heating contractor:
- License and other certifications. Many professional contractors carry a North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification, the leading certification for HVAC contractors. To get a license, contractors have to take an exam to test their knowledge on repair, function, design and maintenance for heating and cooling systems. Added to that, they have to know the state mechanical codes which can protect their clients' home and equipment. Contractors display this license in their business cards, pick-up trucks and ads. If you don't see one, ask for one. If they can't provide you, think twice before getting their services. Also, check if they have any history of customer complaints or disciplinary actions. A little research won't hurt.
- Insurance. When considering the services of a heating contractor check if they carry liability to protect your property as well as worker's compensation insurance for their employees. There are some states that do not require workers' compensation and this could be a problem if a technician gets hurt in your property.
- Longevity. How long have they been in business? Longevity in the business can tell you two things about a heating contractor: 1.) it is likely that the contractor has made a lot of customers happy and satisfied; 2.) that they have established a remarkable track record. Don't hesitate to ask your potential contractor to give references to substantiate their record.
- Referrals. It is better than trial and error by scanning the phone book. But you can't take the word of one neighbor as well. They might have a different situation than yours. Try asking around. If a company gets a lot of recommendations, take it as a good sign.
- Try asking your potential heating contractor for a list of references from happy and satisfied customers. If they can't give you a list, then keep on looking.
- Number of Bids. When comparing contractors' bids, be sure to see which gives you the best deals. Most experienced owners recommend accepting bids that offer a combination of product, service and price. Don't hesitate to ask the contractor regarding the differences in price.
- Put it in writing. Make sure you ask for a written statement for everything you and your potential contractor has talked about, including price, start and end dates, costs of specific equipments and supplies and labor costs, change order policy, last payment due and attachments like insurance policies.