If you’re reading this, you’re looking for HVAC repairs — or maybe even a full replacement — that won’t break the bank. And you’re probably finding various lists of HVAC companies and seeing some ads for cheap services.
Lists and ads make you aware of your HVAC options, but they don’t always make your choice obvious or easy. How do you know which HVAC company you can trust to be affordable but also good at HVAC?
Today we’re here to help you figure that out.
Obviously, you want to check an HVAC company’s reviews and ask friends and neighbors for their recommendations.
But before you choose your affordable HVAC company, you want to ask them some questions and listen carefully to their answers.
Here are five questions we suggest you ask any HVAC company that you’re considering:
1. What does your fee for a service call cover?
A lot of HVAC companies advertise a low price for a service call. What you want to know is, does that price cover any labor? Or does it cover simply showing up at your house?
Most reputable HVAC companies include the first hour of work in their service call price. If your repair or project requires additional hours, a reputable company will charge you per hour starting in the second hour — not the first.
An ultra-low price for a service call often masks an HVAC company’s practice of not including the first hour of work into your cost. Companies like this may seem super affordable, but really, they’re just using sleight of hand in their pricing.
2. What do you usually charge in addition to the service call fee?
Above their fee for the service call, most HVAC companies — like most contractors in general — will charge you for any additional labor beyond the first hour, and for whatever parts or equipment that your job requires.
But a quality HVAC company will do everything it can to keep your costs down:
- They will try to preserve the equipment you have until the cost of repairing it surpasses the cost of replacing it.
- If they do determine that you need new equipment, they will be able to explain and even show you why.
- Unless you have an urgent safety issue on your hands, they will not pressure you to purchase new HVAC equipment immediately. They will simply write up an estimate and give you time to gather and compare other estimates.
In contrast, HVAC companies who advertise cheap or quick services will often try to upsell you on new equipment or additional services right away. They might downplay the value of a repair and steer you straight to an upgrade. The way they conduct their estimate at your home, and the contents of their proposal, will tell you a lot about how they charge customers.
3. Do you employ your own HVAC technicians or subcontract them?
We understand why some HVAC companies subcontract their technicians. The cost, recruiting, and training burden to employ technicians can be high.
But the truth is, an HVAC company that employs its own technicians usually delivers better service and ends up being more affordable in the long run. That’s because this type of HVAC company can provide:
- Oversight. An HVAC company that employs its technicians can enforce a higher standard for the work they do. They can mandate specific approaches, techniques, and equipment in order to preserve the integrity of your HVAC system for longer.
- Continuity. When you have an HVAC repair or new installation done in your home, follow-up adjustments or additional work is often required. A company with its own consistent crew can assign the same technicians to your job, who can then develop an excellent working knowledge of your unique home.
- Accountability. When your HVAC company keeps its people on the payroll, you can feel more confident about inviting them into your home and giving them access to critical and expensive machinery. If something goes wrong, they will be able to make it right much more swiftly. And things are less likely to go wrong in the first place.
- Predictability. Coordinating HVAC work crews among planned projects and emergencies is a challenging job. When your HVAC company doesn’t even employ its own workers, coordination becomes that much harder. You may get affordable HVAC with a company like this, but you may have to compromise on consistency in terms of service and communication. An HVAC company that employs its own workers can manage schedules more effectively and deliver your service when they say they will.
4. What HVAC brands do you service?
Most HVAC companies will service any HVAC brand. But an HVAC company that prioritizes value — and not just affordability — will have a partnership with one of the top HVAC brands. For example, an HVAC company can be a “preferred dealer” or “service partner” for various HVAC brands.
A brand partnership doesn’t limit an HVAC company to servicing or installing only that brand. Rather, it’s a sign of advanced knowledge and up-to-date expertise, which benefits you even if your current furnace or air conditioner isn’t that brand.
An HVAC company with a top-brand partnership has the following advantages:
- They meet the HVAC brand’s stringent criteria regarding customer service and satisfaction.
- They receive regular training to keep their skills sharp and to learn the most advanced HVAC technologies available today.
- They have access to brand promotions and deals that they can pass along to their customers. This helps make premier brands more affordable when you’re ready for a replacement.
- They offer warranties for both equipment and labor that are backed by the brand.
Here at Kowalski, we are a Lennox Preferred Dealer. We also service most of the HVAC brands on the market today.
5. Do you offer HVAC maintenance packages?
When you need an HVAC repair, or when you’re looking for a whole new furnace or air conditioner, ongoing maintenance is probably not top-of-mind for you.
But ongoing maintenance is key in making your HVAC system, and whatever HVAC company you choose, more affordable overall.
HVAC companies who offer maintenance packages tend to be the better deal than HVAC companies who don’t. This is because the cost of maintaining your HVAC is a lot less than the cost of repairing or replacing it more often, which is what happens without maintenance.
Also, consider that HVAC companies make very little profit on maintenance packages. But reputable companies offer them because they want to help you protect your HVAC investment.
An HVAC maintenance package usually has another perk as well: it enables you to get priority service from your HVAC company. If you don’t have such a package, a reputable company will still service your HVAC system, of course. And they’ll absolutely service any heating or cooling emergency you may have in a timely manner. But for typical service calls, customers with maintenance contracts come first and sometimes qualify for special pricing.
We’ve written before about the maintenance packages we offer. Here’s what you can expect with a spring tune-up and a fall tune-up, no matter what type of HVAC system you have.
Are you looking for someone to service your furnace or air conditioner and don’t know which HVAC company to trust? We are ready to answer all your questions, write you a custom proposal, and earn your business. Give us a call at 724-745-7404, or text us at 412-952-5923. You can also contact us via our website at any time. We look forward to serving you!