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Educational Consumer Tips

Stay Informed to Keep Cool: Tips for Hiring an HVAC Service

Author: Danielle Hale
Category: Home Improvement


If you’re living in Northeast California, you know the importance of being ready for any weather. You’re bundled up during winter months, and trying to keep cool during the summer. Which is why it’s important to keep your heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in good working condition and to find a reputable HVAC service when they’re in need of repair. But who do you call? What laws apply to California? Before you settle on an HVAC service consider the following tips.HVAC Service

Find a Reputable Business. Finding a reputable HVAC service is important, as it can protect you from being swayed into unnecessary repairs from untrustworthy HVAC representatives. BBB promotes marketplace trust and we suggest you start your search with and research company ratings, background information, complaints, and customer reviews as part of your overall research.  Also, ask family members, neighbors, or friends for reliable HVAC services they’ve used in the past. Before contacting a business, if possible, note any model numbers on your units and any notable maintenance history.

Licensing Matters. In California, individuals and companies who perform repair or remodel work whose cost in materials and labor exceeds more than $500 must be licensed by California’s Contractor’s State License Board (CSLB). California requires contractors be licensed for the specific work they perform - make sure the classification on their license matches the type of work the will be performing. Visit the CSLB website or call (800) 321-CSLB (2752) to verify a license. Read Hiring a Contractor: Essential Tips for more information.

Obtain a Building Permit. Contractors are most often required to obtain a building permit from your local county or city when installing new HVAC systems. Be sure the HVAC service you choose acquires a building permit when installing new systems to avoid any penalties or future issues. When installation is finished, be sure your city or county performs a final inspection to ensure the system meets applicable city, state, and federal building codes. Contact your city or county for more information about building permits.

Getting a Second Opinion. If you are experiencing a service issue, you may want to consider obtaining a second opinion. If you are replacing or installing equipment you may want to obtain several estimates. BBB’s Request a Quote feature  can help you obtain multiple quotes from local contractors.

Review the Contract Carefully. When you do settle on an HVAC service, be sure to get all offers and agreements in writing. The contract should include the start and completion dates, project costs, model numbers, warranty information, and payment information.

Your down payment should not exceed 10 percent of the contract price or $1,000, whichever is less. The only exception to this down payment maximum is if the contractor has obtained a Blanket Performance and Payment Bond, which can be viewed on the contractor’s license. If this bond is secured, the contractor may exceed the down payment requirements.

If payments are to be made before the project is completed, a schedule of these progress payments should be stated in the contract, along with the date and amount of work to be completed or materials delivered when the progress payments are made. Payments should be consistent with materials delivered and work performed.  Check all work and confirm the contractor is meeting the terms of the contract before making payments. Do not make the final payment until you are satisfied with the job.

Finally, contractors are required to produce change orders in writing when the scope of the project changes, additional work is performed, or additional materials are provided.

Familiarize yourself with the Contractors State License Boards Consumer Guide to learn more about Contracts and laws regarding Contractors.

Home Improvement Contracts. A home improvement contract must allow for a three-day right to cancel. An exception to the cancellation right requirement exists for service and repair contracts performed costing $750 or less in labor and materials.

According to California Law a buyer may waive their right to cancel, in part, when immediate repairs or services are required for the immediate protection of personal or real property. The contractor is also required to obtain a signed and dated statement from you which describes the situation that requires immediate remedy and that you are waiving your right to cancel the sale. However, these waivers are generally against public policy and may be void and unenforceable, meaning your right to cancel may still exist.

Satisfied With Your Service? Write a customer review at to inform future customers. 


About the Author: Danielle Hale is Marketing & Communication Manager for BBB serving Northeast California.