It may seem like only yesterday you couldn’t look out the window without going snow blind – and now it seems like any minute it’ll once again get hot enough that you could drop some eggs on the sidewalk and watch ‘em sizzle. You might be thinking that this time of the year is just easy street – who needs air conditioning or heat, when the temperature is perfect and the clouds act like big, fluffy umbrellas that keep the Sun in check? Well, you’re right – to a point. Right at this exact moment, you can afford to relax. But you know that Arlington has a pretty wide range of temperatures during the year. And you know you’re going to need heating and cooling work done. Are you going to be ready, when it’s either hot like Death Valley or cold like Siberia?
The first thing you’re going to need to know about your HVAC contractor is, do they come highly recommended? You can check the BBB and find out if they’ve got a shady slickster past… but the first step is going to be actually talking to people you know (and trust), and getting their honest opinions. If you know anyone who’s owned their home for more than a year or two, the odds are that they’ve hired a heating and cooling contractor at some point – if nothing else, just for a regular cleaning and inspection. Ask around, and if you hear the same name uttered more than once, put that person or company on your short list to call up.
And when you do call this HVAC contractor, ask them whether they specialize in new installations or servicing existing units – it makes no sense to put someone in a place that isn’t their specialty. Obviously, it’s a good idea to make sure they have up to date HVAC certification (which is necessary, if nothing else, to order parts if necessary), and actually look at it. A real professional will not be offended by you simply checking to see if their credentials are up to snuff – they worked pretty hard to get them (and to keep them), so showing them off should be no big deal.
This is a complicated question, because it deals almost as much with your expectations as it does with what’s actually out there. Like everything else in the world, finding HVAC service is all about what you expect to happen in any given situation. If you expect to find the holy trinity – free, perfect, and now – you’re going to get burned hardcore. There are a lot of hustlers who travel South as the weather gets colder – and while they may be back in the Midwest by now, there is never a time when you can just drop your guard and take everyone at their word. Your HVAC service has got to be on the level at all times.
Fortunately, some rules are just about iron clad – you simply can not go wrong in selecting a reputable HVAC service if you just follow the steps below:
1. Word of mouth is king in the HVAC world – and any good contractor or company is out there every day doing the do, to get as much “street cred” as they can possibly muster. A good HVAC contractor is only as good as their last customer, and they will work extremely hard to make things right. Ask around about good contractors – and if you get the same name more than once, that person or company should definitely be on your short list. And don’t be discouraged if the contractor needs to schedule more than a week in advance – that just means plenty of people know how well they work. And remember that this is why you’re getting work done during the warm season – NOT once it’s turned into a 3 am “freeze-in” emergency. Remember that the temperature once got down to -11 in Leesburg – it’s easy to forget that when it’s 70 and sunny.
2. Check their credentials. Obviously, any contractor you hire for anything absolutely NEEDS to have good insurance. Worker’s compensation and liability insurance (or bonding), and up to date HVAC certification are not optional.
3. Just to be on the safe side, make sure to check the Better Business Bureau for your HVAC service provider’s name (or company name) – it’s better to know before hand, than find yourself embarrassed and swindled.