Quality of service matters, so it’s important to know what to look for in a Bay Area air conditioning company. Choosing a contractor that’s not experienced or licensed can lead to costly problems. You can always trust IRBIS for high-quality air conditioning service. But whether you need a new system installed, your existing AC repaired, or it’s time to plan for a replacement, look for these attributes in the contractor you choose:
In California, any air conditioning contractor must obtain a C-20 HVAC license. It requires having at least four years of experience in the industry and passing an exam. To pass the test, a technician must know all applicable building/mechanical codes, be proficient in the latest service and installation methods, and know how to perform Manual J load calculations.
Obtaining a license also requires an applicant to:
- Complete at least 1 year of on-the-job experience
- Have at least one qualifier to supervise them
- Pass a trade exam, law and business exam (both require 72% to pass), and asbestos exam (for first-time applicants)1
Licensees must also undergo a background check and be insured and bonded. Also, having a license qualifies the company to pull a permit, which requires obtaining licensure and ensures all work done is up to code, meets manufacturer specifications, and is inspected for safety issues.
North American Technician Excellence (NATE) Certification
Being certified by a nationally recognized organization ensures the contractor is up to date on the latest training requirements. Becoming NATE certified requires knowledge and experience-based testing. Technicians must also complete follow-up training and testing every two years. These testing requirements are separate from state-required mandates.
Ongoing training guarantees technicians are familiar with the newest types of equipment and repair/installation methods. For example, any individual who handles refrigerant must be properly certified (per Section 608 of the Clean Air Act). The National Comfort Institute’s air balancing certification is another set of training you should ask a Bay Area air conditioning contractor about.
Proper Tools and Equipment
Many people don’t realize the range of tools and equipment an HVAC technician needs. Their toolkit may combine the tools of a plumber, electrician, and carpenter. Any HVAC job can involve a multitude of tasks. A technician may need tools to cut and braze copper lines, cut sheet metal to fit ductwork, and measure airflow and refrigerant pressure. They may also use vacuum pumps and electrical wiring. The types of tools needed may also depend on the type of service or the equipment manufacturer.
Attention to Safety
Don’t hire any AC contractor who is not familiar with safety procedures. They work with heavy equipment and may engage in tasks like welding that require working with open flames. An HVAC technician also works with refrigerant and other hazardous gases, high voltage electricity, glues, primers, and condensate drainage lines. Following the proper procedures ensures your heating and cooling equipment is installed properly and operates safely and efficiently.
When you’re planning an AC installation or replacement, the contractor should schedule an in-home consultation. They must consider your home’s square footage, number of windows, and the condition of your duct system. A Manual J calculation helps determine the proper heating and cooling loads, and a Manual D calculation determines the size of ductwork. A written, itemized estimate should be provided to you after the evaluation (check what’s included in the price, rather than the price alone, to compare quotes from different contractors).
Positive Online Reviews
Checking reviews is an important step in evaluating a Bay Area air conditioning contractor. Look for reviews on Google, Yelp, or the company’s website or social media page. Read what people say about their experience and how the company handled their situations. Not every experience will be positive, but look for how the contractor resolved the matter and if there’s an overall trend of largely positive or negative reviews.
“Factory-authorized” is often a selling point contractors advertise. Depending on the manufacturer, equipment must be installed a certain way. If a contractor is trained and certified in specific types of systems, it means you can expect a high-quality installation. A factory-authorized contractor has been rigorously evaluated to ensure it does the job correctly. It also often has an extended warranty and a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Look into the company’s inner workings. Full-time employees are likely covered under the company’s license and insurance. Otherwise, a homeowner can face legal liability if something were to happen to the worker or their home.
Companies often subcontract to save money or pay employees by piece rate. This means the installer is paid by the type of job, regardless of the time it takes, meaning they may cut corners to get as many jobs done as possible. For the best results, find a Bay Area air conditioning contractor that hires its employees full-time and compensates them fairly.
The cheapest installation or repair price doesn’t often equal top quality. But you can save by upgrading to energy-efficient equipment. Energy Star-rated models often cost more to install but can save you money over time. Also, ask the contractor about specials and rebates on high-efficiency HVAC equipment.
Call IRBIS: Your Trusted Bay Area Air Conditioning Contractor
We provide AC installation, repair, and maintenance services in the San Jose area. A Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer, we help you find the right AC for your home and include an unbeatable satisfaction guarantee. At IRBIS, we provide in-home consultations, whole-house inspections, and custom solutions, as well as handle planning and permitting. Our licensed technicians perform all the work and get the job done right.