How to Hire the Right Heating and Air Conditioning Tech near Tuscaloosa Alabama
When looking for an HVAC contractor in Tuscaloosa AL, it’s important to make sure that you find a reliable and experienced professional. It can be a little intimidating trying to find someone you can trust because there are so many to choose from. Just look in the yellow pages or check the internet and you will find dozens of heating and cooling companies servicing your area. Almost all of them advertise that they offer a wide range of services, from cleaning your air ducts to installing a new furnace or boiler. But if you just “let your fingers do the walking” when picking a contractor, will you end up getting a certified HVAC pro, or a handyman who tinkers with A/C or furnace repair on the side? The best way to ensure that you hire the right professional for the job is to do your due diligence and ask the right questions. Toward that end we have put together a list of things to look for and ask when hiring an HVAC specialist. But first, let’s talk a little bit about what a heating and cooling company does and the services that they offer.
What do Heating and Air Specialists Do?
First, let’s define what HVAC stands for, which is Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. Probably the only time that you think about calling an HVAC pro is when your air conditioner or furnace stops working. But they do perform a wide range of services in addition to repairs, all relating to your climate control systems. For example, they can provide an annual inspection of your air and heating systems, evaluate the efficiency of your current system and install new or upgraded equipment. They can even clean your air ducts and vents as well. Below is a more comprehensive list of some of the specific services that you can expect from a licensed and certified Tuscaloosa AL heating and cooling company.
- Furnace and Boiler installation, repair and service
- Central air conditioning installation, repair and service
- Ductless air conditioning installation, repair and service
- Thermostat installation or replacement
- Heat pump installation, repair and service
- Humidifier installation, repair and service
- Radiant floor heating installation and repair
- Baseboard heating installation and repair
- Vents and Ducts cleaning, installation and repair
Some Tuscaloosa AL HVAC technicians will offer additional services that are often provided by plumbers, such as hot water heater installation and repair. Others will focus exclusively on servicing air conditioning systems and furnaces. So be sure to inquire about the services the contractors you are considering offer so that you can match the right professional with your job.
It can’t be stressed enough that when hiring an HVAC technician, it’s important that he or she has been trained to properly install or repair your heating or cooling system. After all, the last thing that you would want to happen is damage to your home or worse injury to your family due to an improperly installed furnace. One way that you can ensure the Tuscaloosa AL HVAC contractor you hire has the knowledge and training to handle your job is by checking to see if he or she has earned any of the certifications that are respected within the industry. Following are brief explanations of 3 of the most highly regarded for heating and cooling techs.
- NATE Certification. The NATE (North American Technician Excellence) Certification is sometimes referred to as the “gold standard” for HVAC technicians. In order to receive this certification, Tuscaloosa AL techs must pass a comprehensive knowledge based examination. Certifications can be earned in one or more specialties after 2 years of experience, including gas or oil heating, air conditioning, and heat pumps.
- HVAC Excellence Certification. There are two levels of certification available for HVAC Excellence Certification. The Professional Level requires 2 years of proven field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive knowledge based exam in a specialty area, such as gas or electric heat, residential air conditioning, and combustion analysis. The Master Level requires 3 years of verifiable field experience as well as certification at the Professional Level.
- EPA 608 Certification. This certification is mandatory for Tuscaloosa AL technicians that handle refrigerants. There are four types of certification available: one for small appliances, two that are for either low or high pressure refrigerants, and a fourth that is a universal certification for all types of equipment regardless of refrigerant type.
As professional tradesmen, HVAC contractors are often required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Tuscaloosa AL technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise.
How to Hire a Heating and Cooling Contractor
Finding an HVAC technician is just the start of your due diligence process of ensuring that you pick the right professional for the job. There are questions that you should ask to make sure that the Tuscaloosa AL contractor you hire is both qualified and reputable. If you hire the right company, they will evaluate the installation or repair, keep you abreast of their progress during the job, and make sure that their work is completed properly to your satisfaction. We have already discussed certification, which is one way to verify experience and expertise. Following are some additional steps that you should take before committing to hiring an HVAC specialist.
- Ask friends and family for referrals. Often the best source for finding a good HVAC contractor is by asking friends and family if they have used someone that they are happy with. When you receive a referral, ask what type of work the contractor did, if they were completely satisfied with the work, and if the price was fair and in line with other Tuscaloosa AL contractors. Another way to obtain referrals that is becoming more popular is to use a service that pre-screens contractors in your area that will provide no obligation quotes for heating and cooling services.
- Verify that HVAC contractor has required licenses and insurance. Be sure to check that the Tuscaloosa AL contractor you are considering is in compliance with all local and state licensing requirements and certifications. Also, be sure to ask for certificates of insurance for the contractor’s Worker’s Compensation and Liability Insurance in the event that there is an injury to an employee while working or damage to your property. As a precaution, contact the insurance companies to make sure that the coverages are all current.
- Find out How Long in Business. Many new Alabama companies fail within the first few years of business, making it difficult if not impossible for their former customers to receive any warranty work in the future. Also, some less scrupulous companies close down and reopen new businesses periodically when customer complaints mount. That is not to say that all newer companies are not reputable, just try to find out a little bit more about the background of the principals involved when evaluating a new enterprise.
- Check for customer complaints. Do some due diligence by checking with your Alabama Attorney General’s office and the Better Business Bureau for any complaints filed against the Tuscaloosa AL HVAC contractor you are considering. Online local rating services, such as those provided by Google and Yelp, can also give you some insight regarding the reputation of the contractor within your community.
- Ask for references. Talk with 2 or 3 past clients of the contractor to get some feedback on the quality of the work performed. Ask if they were completely satisfied with their experience, and if not, why not. Also, did the final bill come in as quoted, and if not, why not. Finally, ask them if they had a major heating or cooling project in the future, would they likely re-hire the same Tuscaloosa AL contractor.
- Meet with the HVAC contractor at your home. Before making a final assessment and providing a firm quote for services, the Tuscaloosa AL contractor should be willing to inspect your system and perform a diagnostic if necessary. Be wary of any contractor that makes a cursory inspection without asking many questions unless it is for a minor project. Also, for major projects, do not take final bids over the phone unless the contractor has already completed an inspection and follows up in writing.
- Obtain several bids before making your final choice. It is a good idea to get bids from at least 3 Tuscaloosa AL contractors before selecting the HVAC specialist for the job. Overall cost is important, but be sure to also compare the quality of the components installed or replaced, including energy efficiency and warranties. Keep in mind that always going for the cheapest proposal is not necessarily the best value in the long run.
- Get it all in writing. Once you have narrowed down your search to your final selection, ask the Tuscaloosa AL HVAC contractor to put it all in writing. Things that you want to see in writing are all of the costs and fees, start and completion dates, guarantees and warranties, and payment due dates. Most importantly, be sure that you receive a detailed summary of all work to be completed, and systems to be installed, including brand and model numbers. If permits are required, make sure that they will handle them as well. There should be no surprises or deviations from the written proposal without your approval.
Looking for HVAC Repairs in Tuscaloosa Alabama?
If you live in the Tuscaloosa AL area and are in need of heating and cooling services, you may find this little bit of history regarding your hometown both fascinating and informative.
Tuscaloosa (/tʌskəˈluːsə/ TUS-kə-LOO-sə) is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama (in the southeastern United States). Located on the Black Warrior River at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line of the Piedmont, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with an estimated population of 100,287 in 2017. The city was originally known as Tuskaloosa until the early 20th century.
Incorporated as a town on December 13, 1819, it was named after Tuskaloosa, the chief of a band of Muskogean-speaking people. They battled and were defeated by forces of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mabila, thought to have been located in what is now central Alabama. Tuscaloosa served as Alabama's capital city from 1826 to 1846.
Tuscaloosa is the regional center of industry, commerce, healthcare, and education for the area of west-central Alabama known as West Alabama. It is the principal city of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Tuscaloosa, Hale and Pickens counties. In 2013 its estimated metro population was 235,628. Tuscaloosa is also the home of The University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. While the city attracted international attention when Mercedes-Benz announced it would build its first automotive assembly plant in North America in Tuscaloosa County, the University of Alabama remains the dominant economic and cultural engine in the city, making it a college town.
Heat Pump Troubleshooting Tuscaloosa AL
Well there you have it. Finding and hiring the right Tuscaloosa AL heating and air conditioning specialist is not as hard as you thought. Just as long as you ask the right questions and follow the steps we have outlined in this article. You originally came to this site due to an interest in Heat Pump Troubleshooting. So remember, there is no obligation to receive free proposals from some of the top HVAC contractors servicing your area. So what are you waiting for, find the right professional at the right price now!
Other Hot and Cool Areas in Alabama