No matter what your reason, choosing a new furnace or central A/C can be an intimidating process. There are nearly 100 different brands, and thousands of different models on the market. There are budget models, fully featured models and high-efficiency models. A lot of people deal with this decision by simply placing all of the choices in someone else’s hands: they open the yellow pages, call the first heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor in the book, and ask them to replace their furnace.
How the market works
Upgrading or installing a new furnace needs the help of a fully qualified and licensed HVAC contractor. Selecting a contractor should be dome using the following factors:
- Identify and contact three or more HVAC contractors
- Set up an appointment with each of them to visit your home. You should not be charged for this initial appointment. The contractor will inspect your existing furnace, and collect information about your home, including how many windows it has, which direction they face, how thorough is its insulation, etc. The contractor uses all of this to calculate the load of your heating and cooling system since getting the correct capacity for the furnace that they would install will fully maximize the performance of this equipment.
- Ask for a written estimate from each contractor. Make sure that the estimate breaks out the different charge. The most common questions in getting an estimate is how much will the furnace itself cost? How much in labor?
- If one of the contractor costs is different from the other, don’t be shy about asking the contractor to explain the difference.
- You may want to ask for legal help to understand your contract. They can make sure that the contractor is properly licensed and insured; ensure that warranties are properly spelled out.
Some HVAC contractors and companies have a single brand or furnace manufacturer. Hiring one of these contractors has advantages and disadvantages. On the other hand, the contractor has probably gone through specialized training offered by the manufacturer. The contractor will only offer furnaces from this one manufacturer. If you get estimates from contractors that represent a single brand, make sure you get estimates from several contractors, and make sure they are recommending equivalent equipment.
But what actually happens if your furnace is not working correctly after it is installed? Will the manufacturer be responsible in sending a technician to help you with repairs? Usually, manufacturers will not do this; the manufacturer expects the contractor who installed the furnace to deal with this issue. This is possible a great reason to choose your contractor carefully.
Be a smart consumer and never overlook the advantages of searching for the right contractor to help you with installation and maintenance of your heating and cooling equipment. You should also take care in keeping all documents as well as your receipts to be able to claim your warranty in case of breakdowns and repairs in the future.