How to Choose a Contractor for Heat Pumps
How to choose and hire a contractor? Here are the suggestions and a checklist that are helpful when selecting a reputable contractor to hire, service or install your heat pump.
In order to have your heat pump correctly installed and provide a worry-free and long term heating and cooling, select the contractor you can trust, who is available not only to sell you one, but for installation, service and especially if something gets wrong.
The following are suggestion that will give you an idea what to consider and ask when choosing a HVAC contractor:
- Consider only contractors that are licensed… ask for the license number to ensure that he is skilled to perform necessary work.
- Find out is the contractor insured and bonded – to protect yourself and property due to negligence?
- Check contractor credentials – because you want an authorized heat pump dealer for the specific brand you are buying. For example, you are buying a Carrier heat pump – so you want a trained and certified Carrier dealer or contractor.
- Are there references available from the previous work?
- Some manufacturers provide a list of its authorized contractors and dealers on their website. Try to contact them first.
- Does the contractor have the refrigeration and electrical certifications for installing and servicing the heat pump?
- How long the contractor has been in HVAC business?
- Trustworthy contractor is hard to find; the best will be if someone can recommend one. If not, recommendation is to talk to at least three contractors, obtain written firm quotes from them and compare it side by side.
- Is the technician knowledgeable and can you get answers on questions; how the heat pumps works, how to operate, what to expect, how to maintain, clean…
- Check out the online reviews if there are any about the business.
- Check out the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for any complaints or claims against the contractor.
- Check out the HVAC contractors association.
- Except the manufacturer’s warranty, does the contractor provide any labor warranty?
- Is there a service agreement plan available for any future work on the heat pump?
- Is the contractor one-man business or is there a customer service available? Is there an emergency contact? Is there a 24-hour service?
- Does the contractor help you understand the product, installation and service process?
- Ask for the estimate summary and brake-down list with the details what needs to be done, necessary changes on the existing system, chimney, materials... For example, the ductwork has to be designed in a way to provide an adequate airflow to every part of the house. Or, if it is combined with the existing HVAC system he should examine conditions of the furnace, ductwork, venting, that the electrical system can accommodate the load...
- Beware of the lowest price and anything that sound too good to be true.
- The contractor should recommend the size of the heat pumps based on the heat loss and heat gain calculation or heating/cooling loads for the house.
- The contractor should follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Also don’t be rushed by suspicious “contractors” who offer so much for less, who are mysterious and are not transparent about their work. The best place to talk about the business is at your house where you can ask questions, where the contractor can see the site and take into account all the necessary info for the right estimation – home’s heating and cooling loads, square footage, insulation, ventilation needs, window type, furnace size, filters, thermostat, zoning options...
Note that some simple maintenance and troubleshooting can be done by the homeowners, but more complex or work that require special tools such as checking the refrigerant level, drilling for the water well or adjusting some parameters require a competent professional. Since the heat pumps are sophisticate devices, expect the high labor costs.