Fall is here and temperatures are starting to fall, which means it’s a good time for people to be thinking about their furnaces. In 2016, Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Minnesota and North Dakota convened an industry group comprised of BBB staffers and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractors. From those series of meetings, with helpful input and feedback from industry professionals from Minnesota and North Dakota, a series of tips were created to help consumers find qualified contractors when they need maintenance, repairs or are shopping for a new furnace.
“The average person really only knows just how much they depend on their furnace in the wintertime,” said Susan Adams Loyd, President and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “These tips will help shed light on the industry, best practices, and all of the things people should consider when choosing a heating contractor.”
Before hiring an HVAC company, consumers should also familiarize themselves with their furnace. What make and model is it? How old is it? When is the last time it was serviced? From there, research company backgrounds at bbb.org. Once your list is narrowed down, ask the following questions before making a hiring decision:
If you’re having or suspect you have furnace issues, mention them prior to the service visit. It’s also a good idea to ask if the person coming to your home is an estimator or a technician. Estimators are often technicians with years of experience.
Industry experts say it’s always important to get multiple bids for jobs, but caution is advised when evaluating those estimates, as different size furnaces may be offered or other services could be included. Always be on the lookout for high pressure sales tactics.
In addition, BBB’s industry group felt it was important that consumers be advised about situations where HVAC technicians inform you there’s an emergency with your furnace. Technicians are responsible to shut down – or ‘red tag’ furnaces – if they feel the homeowner’s safety is at risk. Businesses can be liable if they find an unsafe furnace operating in a home and choose to do nothing about it. However, techs should discuss with the client how the problem should be handled. Often, the business may suggest repairing or replacing the unit. Just the same, consumers should not be pushed into a decision if they are not comfortable with options a company has discussed or proposed. Space heaters or a fireplace can be used if you have to wait for a second opinion. Despite popular belief, using heaters will likely prevent pipes from freezing overnight while getting a second opinion.
People seeking HVAC service should also be aware that: