How to choose an HVAC contractor for your home


Summer's sizzling temperatures can seem even worse if your air conditioning system suddenly needs repair or replacement, and the same goes for winter's chills if your furnace goes out. Finding a reliable heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor can be daunting if you need to solve the problem fast. However, it's easy to "tune up" your knowledge about contractors to ensure you find the best one for your needs.

American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning offers some tips for choosing a HVAC contractor that best suits your family and home's needs.

Check out certifications
Most states require that HVAC contractors obtain a certification or license to practice, so be sure to ask potential contractors for verification before securing them to work in your home. Technicians also need to complete specialized training in order to repair, maintain and set up the advanced systems found in today's homes.

Heating and cooling technicians may be certified by a variety of organizations including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and North American Technician Excellence (NATE), (www.natex.org) an independent, third-party certification body that provides rigorous, optional tests that validate the technician's knowledge.

Technicians may also be required to complete apprenticeship programs through technical schools or training programs that are accredited by organizations such as HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

Some heating and cooling equipment manufacturers even offer their own dealer quality assurance programs. For example, the American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning Customer Care (TM) Dealer Program is made up of handpicked dealers who exemplify customer service and satisfaction. They must meet rigid requirements and standards to ensure their absolute commitment to excellence in every aspect of their business. Customer Care Dealers provide a satisfaction survey after most interactions so you can rate their performance. To locate an independent Customer Care Dealer near you, visit www.americanstandardair.com.

Another place to evaluate heating and cooling contractors is Angie's List (www.angieslist.com), a service that compiles consumer ratings of local service companies and contractors in multiple U.S. cities.

Prepare for your contractor's visit
Once you've identified a contractor and checked out certifications, prepare for their visit to your home. Whether you live in a hot and humid area of the country or in a cool, dry region, it's important to think about your comfort requirements in relation to your environment.
You may also require different indoor temperatures for different times of the day and night to help save on energy bills. Providing this information to the contractor will help them recommend the most appropriate and energy-efficient systems to meet your specifications.

In addition, think about the kind of indoor air quality you want to maintain inside your home so your contractor can recommend the best solutions. For instance, if someone in your family has allergies or asthma, your contractor can show you how adding an indoor air cleaner to your home's heating and cooling system can help alleviate symptoms and ensure greater home comfort for everyone inside.

Today's HVAC contractors have plenty of products and systems that are customizable to your particular needs, whether your home is full of wide open space or packed with nooks and crannies. By tuning up your contractor knowledge now, you're more likely to find the right one to create a heating and cooling system that's optimized for your living space - and your budget.