Your air conditioning and heating system, also known as an HVAC system, is an essential part of your comfort. You may need routine maintenance, repair, or a new HVAC system. With so many contractors in the Coachella Valley area, choosing a qualified HVAC contractor can be daunting and stressful. Educating yourself and asking the right questions can help you make an informed choice and reduce overall stress.
1. Licensing and Experience
2. Check The HVAC Contractor's Insurance
In addition to the California State license, an HVAC contractor should hold a minimum level of bonding and insurance (i.e. General Liability & Workman’s Compensation). Insurance protects you, the homeowner, in case of injury or accidental damage.
Make sure to ask prospective HVAC contractors about what insurance they carry.
Liability insurance protects you against property damage and damage caused by the contractor or their employees. For example, the contractor causes damage to your next-door neighbor’s property. If the contractor does not have liability insurance, you may be responsible for the damage costs.
Workman's Compensation Insurance
The HVAC contractor should have workers compensation insurance if they have any employees. If the contractor does not have this type of policy, you, the homeowner, are responsible for workers compensation claims should one of the contractor’s employees become injured while at your home.
The bond protects you, the consumer, should the HVAC contractor be unable to meet the deliverables of their contract with you.
Desert Tech is a fully insured and bonded HVAC Contractor.
3. Be Wary of Over the Phone Quotes
No two air conditioning and heating systems are the same. Even with the same equipment, the installation and spaces are different. Your ducting, and grills, window types, and ceiling heights all have an impact on the capacity of your air conditioning/heating system. To provide a quote, an HVAC contractor should send an engineer or qualified technician to your home, not just a salesman.
A professional contractor will walk around your entire house and evaluate various aspects that contribute to the overall load. A trained HVAC contractor will perform a Manual-J calculation, also called a load for your air conditioning system. The contractor must be on-site to perform a load calculation. None of this is possible over the phone.
Without an onsite visit, the HVAC contractor is just making an unsubstantiated wild uninformed guess. Is that the type of HVAC contractor you want for your system?
Desert Tech will always send a qualified engineer or qualified technician to your home. We will not provide recommendations or quotes without first collecting all of the necessary information during a home visit.
4. Get a Written Bid or Estimate
Some contractors will want to give you a bid or estimate verbally. Although a verbal agreement is accepted in the State of California as a legally binding contract, proving it in court is another matter. A reputable HVAC contractor will always give you a written proposal, agreement or quote.
The written bid or quote should contain in detail, the work to be performed and should always stipulate the Contractor’s license number.
Desert Tech will always provide you with quotes and agreements in writing.
5. Avoid Going with the Lowest Bidder
Everyone wants to save money and find a “bargain.” Many contractors will low ball a quote or bid to get the business. Unfortunately, you the consumer may then suffer from a poorly sized system, poorly done repair, or a botched job.
Instead of going with the lowest price…get multiple bids., check references., and determine who is going to do the best job. Choose the contractor you feel will provide you with the highest quality at a fair price, not the cheapest price.
If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
6. Check Online Reviews
Read Google, Yelp, Home Advisor and Angie’s List reviews for prospective HVAC contractors. While online reviews are not fail-safe, they can indicate the reputation the contractor has in the Coachella Valley Area.
Be sure that the reviews are local reviews. Some national and franchise HVAC contractors will provide reviews from customers from all over the United States which can be misleading.
Do the reviews provide sufficient enough detail to determine that they are real and not fake reviews?
We at Desert Tech Air Conditioning and Heating are very proud of our 5-star reputation.
7. Check the Better Business Bureau
8. Ask Your HVAC Contractor Candidates for Past Client References
Online testimonials are great, but nothing beats talking to another customer. Ask the candidate HVAC company for references and referrals and call them. Ask if the company completed the job on time and within budget. Find out if the contractor performed tidy installations and respected the property.
Desert Tech is proud of our work and reputation. We will always provide you with past customer references.
9. New To The Area? Ask for Help
Once you have done your homework and have a shortlist of candidate HVAC contractors, you may have third-party neutral resources available who can help you.
If you have recently moved to the area, or are a “snowbird”, chances are you have an HVAC contractor who serviced your previous home, or your full-time residence. Ask them if they could review the proposals you’ve received. Often they are only too happy to help.
Do, however, use this sparingly and only with the candidate finalists you’ve chosen.
We at Desert Tech are so confident in our work and knowledge and know that our bids and proposals will stand up to professional scrutiny.
10. Don't Gloss Over The SEER
SEER stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio” and provides a measurement of how energy efficient an HVAC system is. The higher the SEER, the lower the electricity consumption. Lower electricity consumption saves you money to run the system. The higher the SEER, the greater the system power efficiency. More efficient units tend to cost more to buy than less efficient units, but, with proper regular maintenance will save you money over the life of the system and you will still receive a return on your investment (ROI)
Be sure that the HVAC contractor specifies the SEER of the system. Knowing the SEER rating is important because comparing a proposal for a 14 SEER system to a 20 SEER is like comparing apples to oranges.
The HVAC contractor should work with you to understand how important it is to you to have a system less expensive to operate vs. a system less costly to purchase. They should discuss these tradeoffs with you so you can make an informed choice.
Avoid a contractor that does not take your operating cost needs into account.
Desert Tech will also work closely with you to choose and size a system that helps you achieve your cost goals.
11. Salesmen, Engineers, Technicians and Commission
Find out the qualification of the person visiting your home to give you a quote for your HVAC system. Are they a salesperson, working on commission, or a licensed mechanical engineer? If it is a salesperson, what is their training and licensing?
It is also not unusual in the HVAC contractor world for engineers and technicians to receive part of their pay compensation based on commission. Salary based all or in part on commission means that the more they sell, the more they earn. Commission based salary is not necessarily the best thing for you, the consumer. Do they have your best interests at heart or their pocket?
Our staff does NOT work on commission, and will never try to upsell you. Our only goal is to provide you with the best service at a fair price.