Networx: Tips to get the best HVAC service

Laura Firszt More Content Now
Find out the facts about heating and air conditioning — installation, repair, and maintenance — before you call a contractor for help. [Idahoprogrammer [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

Be a savvy homeowner. Find out the facts about heating and air conditioning — installation, repair, and maintenance — before you call a contractor for help. You’ll not only save money and hassle, you’ll also get the best HVAC service for your home.

HVAC installation

Work with what you've got. For example, the type of air conditioning you can retrofit will be determined by whether you already have ductwork in place for a forced-air furnace. An upcoming major renovation, like a bathroom remodel, means you’ll have more leeway to install underfloor heating. One often-overlooked point is the configuration of your house — how much space do you have for a furnace, for instance, and will technicians need to maneuver the appliance down a tricky flight of stairs?

Check out your HVAC installation contractor. Before you hire an HVAC service pro, read his online reviews and Better Business Bureau profile. You might contact references and/or do a background check too. Make sure any contractor you hire is licensed and insured according to local government regulations, with up-to-date credentials.

HVAC repair

HVAC maintenance

Change or clean your furnace or A/C filter regularly. This easy DIY task improves efficiency, protects indoor air quality, and may extend the life of your equipment. Tackle the filter at least once every 3 months, more frequently during periods of heavy HVAC use; when there is construction or serious air pollution locally; or if you have pets in the home.

Don’t neglect your ductwork. If your heating and cooling circulate via ducts, as in most American homes, ask your contractor to inspect the ductwork for mold, debris, damaged insulation, and leakage (which leads to costly energy loss). Have any problems repaired promptly.

Consider a regular maintenance contract. HVAC service contracts are a convenience for homeowners who are too busy or absentminded to schedule regular checkups; some also guarantee priority treatment if your system fails. Contracts vary widely in what they cover, so read the specs carefully and shop around for the plan that suits your needs.

Check out your HVAC maintenance contractor. You’ll be basically relying on this individual or company to keep your family comfortable year round, so make sure you hire a reliable pro. Use the same vetting process as for the installer. Compare prices and services competing contractors offer. Availability is equally important — what happens if your systems conks out on a holiday weekend?