It’s important to ask the right questions about equipment when getting an HVAC installation estimate. First, ask about capacity for your home. Your contractor should be able to tell you exactly what capacity system you need to effectively heat and cool your house. There’s a simple equation that takes total home square footage, duct system square footage, and geographical location into consideration to delivery a specific capacity figure.
Speaking of ductwork, your contractor should also be able to tell you whether your current ductwork is in good shape. Leaking ducts can severely impact your HVAC system’s overall efficiency, so this is an important question to ask. If your HVAC contractor doesn’t mention ductwork at all during your estimate, you may want to get a second opinion. If you do need to repair your duct system, don’t feel cheated. Reduced HVAC efficiency means higher cost in the long run, so it pays to ask questions about your ductwork.
It’s also important to ask what brands your contractor prefers to use so you can do some independent research and ensure you’re getting exactly what you want. Discuss any new technologies with your HVAC contractor as well. It could be that there’s a new type of energy-efficient AC available that you hadn’t considered before.
Setting Budget Expectations
Your HVAC contractor may have better firsthand knowledge of utility bill savings for a new energy-efficient system component than a salesperson, so don’t hesitate to ask budget questions during your hvac estimate.
Ask your contractor if any government rebates or tax incentives for green HVAC technology investments are available in your area. But don’t take the availability of these benefits as a sure sign you should invest in efficient technology. Ask your contractor what he or she thinks about the potential savings breakdown.
Your final budget-related question should focus on payment terms for your HVAC equipment and installation costs. Will you need to pay everything up front? Can you pay in installments? Is the estimated price a guarantee, or is it subject to change? Make sure you know this information upfront so you can both set your expectations properly and get a second opinion if the price seems too high.
Labor and Other Concerns
Many HVAC contractors offer a warranty for both equipment and labor. Ask about the warranty period so you know for sure how long your parts and labor are covered. If the contractor has a written policy, ask for a copy so you can review all the terms, including whether there are any caveats that void the warranty.
Your labor questions should include some legal concerns as well. Ask whether your contractor is licensed to operate in your city, county, or state. Not all jurisdictions require a license, but don’t take this at face value; do some research on your own to make sure. Contractors should also provide proof of insurance and bond protection. Insurance and bond protection ultimately help the homeowner as much as the contractor, so don’t skip over this detail.
For your final question, ask for a clear timetable for each day of the installation process. Include a rough timetable in your contract if you can, and if you can’t, write it down and tell the contractor you’ll be keeping an eye on it. Accidents do happen, of course, but you can use your timetable to judge the activity you see going on and determine whether the contractor is dragging his or her feet to extract more labor fees.