Ask any homeowner to list the problems around the home that end up requiring the most time, expense, and upkeep to properly maintain, and chances are good that you’ll see heating and cooling issues on just about every single list. A home environment that is too cold in the winter months and too hot in the summer can be a convincing argument for spending less time at home, and can negatively impact the amount of enjoyment a homeowner gets out of the time spent in his personal castle. In addition, heating and cooling issues often lead to frustration, costly repairs, and do-it-yourself projects gone awry. Not every climate-control issue is one that should cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but left untreated or handled improperly, a relatively minor problem can easily spiral out of control.
Fortunately, taking the simple step of hiring a heating and air contractor when these difficulties arise is likely to save the average homeowner time, money, and a bit of sanity. When it comes time to search for a reputable contractor, the process can seem like a daunting step, particularly if you’ve never needed to hire someone in the past, or know little about your home’s heating and cooling system. Before deciding to hire someone to investigate the problem, take the time to investigate your potential contractor.
There are a number of websites out there that focus on reviews of home service professionals, and you should be able to find at least a few basic bits of feedback on the contractor or the company you’re considering. It’s also a good idea to ask the company for references, and actually take the time to follow up on those calls, since hearing what others have to say about their experience with a service professional can help you make an educated decision. Another great source of information is your local Better Business Bureau; a simple phone call is all it takes to find out if a contractor has had complaints against him in the past, or is currently involved in pending litigation.
Once you find a heating and air contractor that seems reputable, comes with positive references, and has been willing to answer any questions you may have, make sure that all dealings are recorded in writing, not just via a verbal agreement or explanation. Everything from the initial estimate to the home evaluation to the itemized bill should be recorded in detail, and both you and the contractor should keep a copy on file. This helps protect both parties against any future disputes or misunderstandings, should the project go awry or not meet expectations.