But sometimes – even with the best of intentions – people make mistakes when choosing a new A/C. Here are three pieces of advice to consider (strongly) when choosing a home air conditioning system – and the contractor who installs it.
Choose the best value, not necessarily the lowest price. Like the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The most important thing to keep in mind when looking at quotes from different contractors is to get the most value for your money. To do that, be sure you’re comparing apples to apples so you can understand the true value of what you’re getting in the deal.
Some things to consider when comparing A/C installation quotes include:
Equipment type (brand, specs, etc.) – What type of equipment does your estimate include? What is its size or capacity? What is its failure rate? What is its SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating? Ask why your contractor chose that brand and model, and be sure to compare the features and performance of each brand and model suggested.
Contractor quality – Do the research and ask questions. Is your contractor NATE-certified? Is he licensed and insured? Does he do a proper load calculation before giving you an estimate (not just a paper calculation, but one based on observation of your home)? Does he ask questions about your current system’s performance or your level of comfort? Look for contractors who are engaged from day one.
“Hidden” charges: – Make sure everything you want is detailed in your estimate, including materials, connections, ductwork adjustments, etc. If many of these materials and features are considered extra, or not fully detailed in the estimate, consider it a red flag. Late fees are also important: ask what happens if there are delays or unexpected problems on your A/C installation, and be sure to get everything in writing.
Only choose contractors who unconditionally stand by their work. Any reputable A/C installation contractor will unconditionally guarantee their work. That means that if they make a mistake on your job, they will redo or fix it AT NO CHARGE TO YOU. Only choose air conditioning contractors who stand by their work 100 percent of the time.
Always ask for references. All reputable contractors will happily give you references. Ask your contractor to give you at least three names of people they have worked with, and try to find someone who has gotten work similar to your own installation.