1. How long have you been in the air conditioning business?
The response should be long enough to have a portfolio of satisfied customers. While years of experience are
important to develop a skill, so is a solid track record of happy clients. However if the company is new and the
owners have worked in the area for a long time, they should still have a list of satisfied customers.
I would be leary of a new company only if they have NOT been in the area very long or have established themselves within the community. Although longevity is no guarantee of quality, generally a company that has stayed in business over the years should have developed a reputation and continues to grow. Typically companies that do not live up to their services will not be in business very long.
2. Are you licensed?
All HVAC contractors are required to be licensed in the state of New York.
Here are the requirements for New York City:
If state licensing isn’t going to help you, how can you properly vet potential HVAC service providers? Fortunately, there are several industry-standard certifications that set the true professionals apart:
EPA 608 Certification
MSCA (Mechanical Service Contractors of America) STAR Certification
NATE (North American Technical Excellence) Certification
3. Do you carry general liability and workers compensation insurance?
General liability insurance covers damage to your property as a result of their work. Workers compensation covers an employee who may have be injured during the course of business on your property. If the contractor uses independent subcontractors or does not carry workman’s compensation then you would be liable if an injury were to occur.
4. Does the air conditioner contractor pull all the
This gives you the assurance the job will be done to code. It affords a third party to approve the work.
5. Do you guarantee your work?
Most air conditioner service contractors guaranteed their work for at least one year. In addition a manufacturers part
warranties may vary between manufacturers with some warranties going as long as 10 years.
6. Who will be in charge of the work and how will it be
First you want to know who your main contact will be. Second, you want to know how the job will be supervised.
Will a foreman be assigned that is different from your main contact? The important thing is to feel comfortable with
your air conditioner service contractor. In addition you would like to know what the work schedule will be, and
how long it may take and how they minimize dust and debris as well as clean up.
7. References – Will you provide written references or
A good air conditioning contractor will be able to provide a list of references or testimonials. You can also check their
record at the local better business bureau. This will give you a dispute resolution mechanism.
8. What are your payment options?
Do they accept credit cards, or personal checks? Some companies want a partial payment to get started. Others
expect payment at the completion of the job. You want to avoid making full payment before the job starts.
9. Has the company had any complaints or how do
they handle them?
Every profession can have had a difficult customer. What you want to hear is how the problem gets resolved. Is
there a method to handle a dispute such as mediation? The Better Business Bureau is a good platform to utilize in
the event of a dispute.
10. How many projects like mine have you completed
in the last year?
Your contractor should have experience with your type of repair or installation before. You want to get an idea of
how much that experience actually constitutes. That will minimize on the job training, and keep the billable hours
down. Getting an estimate of the amount of time it will take up front will give you an idea of if and when you need to
be there and plan accordingly.
By asking these questions and getting good solid answers, you should be able to tell if you are dealing with a top-notch AC contractor or a rip-off artist who is ready to skip town with your money!