Keying the title of this article into a search engine is a good start. There’s a lot of information out there about hiring the best local HVAC technicians to install, maintain, and repair your heating, cooling, and air quality equipment. Those articles are good for general overviews, such as learning what contemporary air quality control looks like. They’re also good for building a technical vocabulary so you know what a ductless mini-split does and what makes a service contract valuable.
However, there is no universal set of rules and regulations for practicing heating and cooling. In fact, each state defines a qualified HVAC technician by its own terms.
This article gives specific guidance to homeowners and business owners who need to hire the best heating & cooling repair and service teams located in Massachusetts.
Why is it so complicated?
The HVAC industry has dozens of certifications that fall into two basic categories: required and voluntary. The heating & cooling equipment and systems used throughout the country are as varied as the climate conditions they moderate. For this reason, a skilled HVAC technician in Ashland, Oregon may need to understand different types of equipment than a tech in Westborough Massachusetts, especially if the heating & cooling technicians don’t share the same specialty.
When a salaried HVAC technician shows up at your door in Massachusetts to perform heating and cooling repair, she or he must have a Massachusetts Refrigeration License, which requires:
• A high school diploma or equivalency (GED or proficiency exam)
• A $75 application and processing fee
• A CFC Certification required by the Environmental Protection Agency demonstrating a mastery of proper handling of refrigerants
With that said, graduates coming out of HVAC technician school are looking for both the HVAC technician jobs with the most competitive salaries and opportunities to acquire a variety of other certifications recognizing professional competency in specific areas. These are the knowledgeable and motivated heating and cooling technicians you want working on your equipment, and you can find them working for the best HVAC contractors, installers, and service providers.
Find Your HVAC Team
The Internet makes it easier than ever to find local heating and cooling companies. It’s up to you to conduct a thorough selection and interview process to ensure you hire the best HVAC team to service your equipment. Here’s a go-to game plan to get you to your goal:
Step 1: Research.
You found this article! Now, go find “heating and cooling near me.” Ask your networks on social media, ask your friends and coworkers in person, and check in with your local chamber of commerce to get a long list of local HVAC companies that can provide the services you need, which may include heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repair. If you’re in the market for commercial HVAC, make sure the companies you look at have commercial heating and cooling experience.
Legitimate HVAC service providers are going to showcase the skills of their technicians by openly informing you about training and certifications they hold. For instance, The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) helps to guarantee a technician’s education and experience are up to date as the leading non-profit HVACR certification program in the country.
Also, make sure the company itself is insured and holds a prominent standing in the community. This ensures you avoid fly-by-night hucksters. Signs of a reputable company include: accreditation by the Better Business Bureau, membership to professional organizations, and involvement in the local chamber of commerce.
DON’T GET OVERWHELMED. There are most likely a handful of reputable HVAC companies near you. This research can be done in a couple nights or over the weekend.
Step 2: Narrow down the choices.
From your long list, make your top 3 choices. This decision should be made based on personal references, online reviews, and everything you could dig up in your research from company websites, social media platforms, and other public records.
You want to get estimates for the work you need done from each of your top 3 choices. This involves an at-home evaluation. If an HVAC contractor tries to give you a quote without an onsite evaluation, a red flag should go up for you. During the evaluation you should discuss the same things that must appear later IN WRITING within the final quote.
How much will labor and a replacement/new unit cost?
Any equipment you purchase should be ENERGY STAR rated to ensure you save on long-term energy costs. The EPA is scheduled to update ENERGY STAR scores every five years but often these updates are delayed. If an HVAC contractor tries to sell you a bigger unit “to be safe” or automatically wants to replace your furnace after a brief inspection, a red flag should go up.
The industry standard for determining the size of an air conditioning system is to use a Manual J load calculation of the Air Conditioning Contractors Association (ACCA). A legitimate contractor will perform this calculation.
What is the timetable for the project and payments?
There’s no industry standard for installation time or payments. The timeframe of a project obviously depends on the scope of what needs to be done. The important negotiation here is to nail down exactly how long it should take and what happens if it takes longer?
As for payments, there’s some division in the industry. Some contractors accept payment when the job is done, and others prefer to have a portion of money up front to order equipment. No contractor should ask for payment in full before the job is done, and if so, that’s a red flag.
Any other details?
Ask about any additional work that may come up as change orders or added charges. Also, if your HVAC installation is part of a new build or larger remodeling project, make sure you clarify who is responsible for pulling permits.
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. If an HVAC company checks out on paper and gets good recommendations, the final test is you. You have to determine if the company employees you interact with seem trustworthy and friendly and if you want their techs in your home handling your HVAC system.
Step 3: Make the final decision!
Now’s the time to sit down and go over your notes and the numbers. In the course of your research and interviewing, you’ll learn about a lot of valuable incentives and rebates focused on energy conservation that can save you big bucks. In Massachusetts, check out MassSave, The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and the GasNetworks Gas Rebate Program to start. In addition, manufacturers offer their own unique deals, and there’s also many different avenues for financing.
A reputable HVAC installer will be very knowledge about all these programs and be able to walk you through each one to help you take advantage of every opportunity.
DON’T GO WITH THE LOWEST BIDDER. Blanket statements always have exceptions, but if one of your top 3 choices comes in noticeably lower than the others, look hard at why they can offer that price. It may be because they’re cutting corners.
Wherever you are along your project journey, you can always get guidance from the experienced and talented heating and cooling experts at CPS Heating & Cooling.
CPS Heating and Cooling
You can always call on your extended family of dependable heating, cooling, and air quality experts at CPS Heating & Cooling.
Contact us anytime to set up a consultation or call us at 508-460-6691.