As days grow colder, shorter and with winter on its way, it's important to ensure your home's furnace is working before you actually need it! Have you called your furnace technician yet?
Perhaps the better question may be: do you even have a go-to Dallas HVAC company and when was the last time you had your furnace or other HVAC components checked?
Or, what if it turns out that some part of your HVAC unit needs repair or replacement? Also, which furnace service technician can you trust with your entire HVAC system?
Ten Good Questions to Ask Your New Furnace Technician
Answering that last question takes a couple of steps. First, read reviews of the HVAC companies in your area. Second, come up with a series of questions to ask your new HVAC technician when they visit your home for a maintenance check.
The best way to become familiar with a technician and the business they work for is to start with an inspection. You probably need one anyway. Don't hesitate to ask for clarification, including explanations of technical terms or specific services.
1. Could You Walk Me Through the Inspection You're Doing?
This question is to satisfy your curiosity and determine whether the technician is knowledgeable and delivers respectful and professional customer service. It should give you a good sense of whether to request this person for future jobs.
Before your furnace maintenance appointment, we recommend reading some HVAC articles and looking at furnace diagrams (preferably accompanied by a good look at your own system for comparison).
That way, you'll be able to ask more informed follow-up questions.
2. What Are Your Recommendations and How Should I Prioritize Them?
Asking for recommendations and help prioritizing them is a way to learn more about a technician's knowledge and experience. But it's meant more to be useful to you. If the technician is good at their job, you should gain some helpful information—as we expect.
Someone with experience in heating and furnace repair could save you time and money by helping you prioritize repairs, so you aren't as likely to be caught off guard by HVAC emergencies.
They might point out some immediate needs. If they're not expensive and the furnace service technician makes a good case, why not have them fixed? It would give you a chance to see the quality of their work on more than perfunctory tasks.
3. What Is the Condition of the Furnace Today and How Soon Do You Think It Should Be Replaced?
Most sources say that the average lifespan for a furnace is 15 years, and very few furnaces last more than 30 years. Knowing this should give you a sense of when to start thinking about a replacement.
Consulting with your furnace service technician can give you a more precise estimate, based on what they have observed about your furnace's overall condition and maintenance record.
4. What Licenses and Certifications Do You or Your Company Have?
Most company certifications can be seen prominently on their website. There are usually several of these, and they come from government bodies, trade organizations, manufacturers, and other entities.
It's wise to ask your technician about their specific certifications—though individual employees, not the business, would hold them. The following sections look at certifications HVAC technicians might be expected to have.
STATE OR LOCAL LICENSING
Most HVAC certifications are optional (though some are highly recommended). However, licensing is always mandatory. Licensing requirements vary by state, and many municipalities have requirements of their own.
NATE stands for North American Technician Excellence, and it's the nation's largest non-profit certification organization for HVAC technicians. NATE is owned, operated, developed, and supported by the entire HVAC/R industry and participation is voluntary.
HVAC EXCELLENCE CERTIFICATION
ESCO Group established their HVAC Excellence Certifications to improve the technical competency of the HVAC/R industry through various courses and assessments.
Among these are the Employment Ready Certifications, which "provide employers with a standardized measurement of a job applicant’s knowledge and readiness, regardless of where they were trained."
They offer the following HVAC Excellence Certifications:
Professional Technician (assessed by a written exam after at least two years of experience)
Master Specialist (a hands-on performance exam for technicians with many years of experience)
ESCO Group also offers specialty certifications, including:
Heat Pump Installer
Residential Air Conditioning
Light Commercial Refrigeration
You should also know that several HVAC standards apply to air conditioning only. Since your AC is a more complicated system than your furnace, you're likely to see more HVAC-related certifications and other information for it.
5. How Long Has Your Company Been in Business
The longer a company has been in business, the longer it's had to establish a reputation and be reviewed by customers and professional organizations like the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
In other words, it's easier to find information on a given company's strengths and weaknesses. Still, a newer company might be striving to retain their customers. They also might offer more incentives.
Either way, the age of the business will provide valuable information about what to expect from them. If it's a new business and your furnace technician has done good work, be sure to leave a review with Google, Yelp, the BBB, etc.
6. Do You Ever Use Subcontractors for Your Work?
Residential and commercial contractors seldom work in complete isolation from one another. After all, buildings are interconnected in all sorts of ways, especially in the central home systems: HVAC, plumbing, and electrical.
FURNACES NEED ELECTRICITY
What would an electric furnace be without electricity and the system components that deliver it to the furnace? Also, most modern gas furnaces have electrical ignitions instead of pilot lights. So, the gas won't burn without electricity.
Other critical gas furnace components also use electricity:
Circuit boards that relay information between the furnace and thermostat
Relays that control gas flow and safety devices like the fuel regulator and thermocouple
Blower motors powering the fans that propel heated air through the ducts and combustion waste out the flue
GAS FURNACES NEED GAS PLUMBERS
Working with natural gas lines is a plumbing specialty; not all plumbers have it. But if you need a gas line installed for a new furnace or an existing line repaired, the right plumber can be beneficial.
REGULAR PLUMBERS INSTALL WATER LINES
Conventional furnaces only need water lines if there is an attached whole-home humidifier. A properly trained HVAC technician can install the unit. But you might need a plumber for the water line.
SUBCONTRACTORS IN YOUR HOME
Many companies now offer servicing for all, or at least some, of the major home systems. That way, they have the appropriate technicians in-house and don't need to subcontract.
As a homeowner, you should know if any subcontractors will be involved with work done in your home. If they are not properly licensed and insured, there could be problems.
You should make it clear to your furnace technician that any subcontractors they or their company wants to use must show you their license, provide proof of current insurance, and have your approval to do the work.
7. Will the Company Handle Any Needed Permits?
Most municipalities require permits for significant work done on people's homes. Most jobs requiring plumbing or electrical work need permits.
Although some heating and furnace repair companies secure the permits as a courtesy, it’s ultimately the homeowner's responsibility. If the company has saved you the trouble of getting a permit, you should still ask them to show it to you.
8. Does Your Company Do Emergency Work?
If so, how long does it take to respond, and what is the hourly rate? Does it include evenings, weekends, and holidays?
We can't find the data to back us up on this, but we'd bet that more than half of HVAC calls are for emergencies (or at least what people consider emergencies).
Under-maintained or outdated systems cause many emergency HVAC repairs. Have you heard of the “50% rule”? This rule states that if a repair cost is about 50% of your system's value, you're typically better off upgrading the system.
9. How Long Are Your Warranties on Labor and Materials?
If you're paying a large sum for a new furnace or HVAC system, you're probably well aware of the value of warranties. For example, if you discover early on that your new system is a “lemon,” you might be able to replace it if it's under warranty.
And good warranties often provide replacement of individual parts for several years after the date of purchase.
Before purchasing your new equipment, make sure to discuss your warranties with the technician or even the company owner to learn what it covers and under what conditions. They can help you understand the nuances you might miss.
Don't be like those who leave warranties on shelves or in files with other paperwork, and then forget them. That's a golden opportunity—lost!
10. What If I Were to Replace My Furnace?
What follows are commonly asked questions for any furnace repair technicians you might be considering for a new furnace installation. Feel free to adjust as needed for your situation.
What brand, size, fuel type, and AFUE rating do you recommend and why?
Is traditional forced-air heat my best option?
Should I consider a heat pump? What are the pros and cons?
Approximately how much will installation cost?
How much will supplies like filters cost, and how often will I need to replace them?
Are there any discounts or rebates available?
Who inspects the work after completion?
Should I have the whole HVAC system replaced in order to have all the components coordinated with one another?
With the average cost of new furnace equipment and labor averaging around $5,500, you need all the information you can get. Besides asking your technician these questions, shop around with other companies.
You're not only looking for the most reasonable price, but also good warranties, benefits like energy savings, and how easy it would be to get it serviced.
Additionally, don't forget to read reviews of the manufacturers and models you're considering. Also, ask friends and neighbors about their systems and how they’ve been working out.
How Is Your Furnace Holding Up, Anyway?
Having discussed some matters related to furnace technicians, we have to wonder and ask how much effort you’re putting into your furnace and overall HVAC maintenance? Do you have annual (or even semi-annual) inspections?
How often do you change the filter? Is it more than once a year, especially if you have pets or live in an allergy-prone area? Is the blower motor working as it should? And do you keep the furnace and household vents clean and free of dust?
And, although we know this can be hard, are you maintaining a home temperature that's warm enough for comfort (maybe with a sweater) and doesn't place an undue burden on your furnace?
You undoubtedly understand by now that doing this saves money on both repair and energy costs. Keeping the temperature below 70° F keeps you healthier, too!
A Good HVAC or Furnace Technician Is a Keeper
Most of us had very little exposure to HVAC technology early in our lives. Few families in the northern parts of the U.S. had air conditioning, and our furnaces were in dark, scary places like basements, attics, or closets.
So, as adults, it's sometimes taken us a few years after becoming homeowners to explore our own HVAC systems and get involved with their regular maintenance. It's too easy to call a furnace technician!
This could be a problem not only because we're spending a lot of money on service, but also because we have so little idea of what to ask an HVAC technician when we have the opportunity. And their expansive knowledge and know-how offers so much.
If you're in need of trustworthy Dallas HVAC service by a locally owned and operated company. Contact us at 972-992-5648 for prompt service.