Buying a furnace, cooling or indoor air quality system is a big investment for you and your family. Before choosing a particular make or model, do some research and ask questions about it to avoid making the following biggest mistakes when it comes to buying a furnace or air conditioner.
Choosing a contractor who is not qualified or not licensed
The most important step upon deciding to make the purchase is looking for the right contractor to do the job. Unfortunately, most homeowners do not ask the right questions to ensure that the contractor is qualified for the job, and with enough experience to carry out the installation. Do not forget to ask potential contractors if they are members of the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Members of the BBB are key players of a national organization that is dedicated to uphold integrity at the highest level, customer service ethics, communications, advertising and resolution of disputes.
Asking for only one estimate
It is a must to have more than one estimate when planning to buy a new gas furnace or central air conditioner. Make sure that the estimates you ask for are written in a proper form. Also, always take the time to review and compare equipment quality and the warranties that they offer. Ask whether the estimate covers the removal of your old equipment and other materials. Does the estimate also include the necessary permits?
Be attentive to the Sales Consultant to determine whether he is knowledgeable about the product and how professional he is with the way he transacts. How long has his business been operating? Was he able to explain the rebates you qualify for that are available in their system? Take note that your initial experience with him will most likely reflect your succeeding transaction with him later on, and the kind of service he will most likely render.
Trying to save money by always going for the cheapest one
Choose the contractor that emphasizes on the quality of their installation service and the quality of the equipment they use that are all quite priced reasonably, rather than going for the one who offers the cheapest service. Always remember that the cheapest one does not directly translate to the best value and experience for you. For instance, the cheaper contractor will most likely not offer you the 24-hour emergency response or certain maintenance and service agreements once the installation has been completed even if you might consider them as valuable services.
Having the notion that price is the only thing that matters
Your decision in buying a furnace should not solely depend on the initial purchase price. After all, you have to live daily with the noisy new system you have bought for a very long time, while your heating and cooling costs will depend on your new system’s energy efficiency (to determine energy efficiency through the SEER ratings, make sure to let the Sales Consultant explain to you in detail what the number means).
Ignoring the Warranty’s Fine Print
It is essential to fully comprehend the warranties provided by individual contractors. Do not hesitate to ask if the warranty also includes parts only or both the parts and labor. Do not forget to also ask whether there will be additional charges outside of the warranty coverage, like after-hours service labor charge for example. Lastly, ensure that the contractor has furnished you with a written warranty for your record.
Not asking about Insurance and WSIB Coverage
The contractor you’re dealing with must always have public liability and property damage insurance. In case you hired sub-contractors, the contractor must still have the required liability insurance. In the event that the contractor you hired is not insured, you become fully-responsible for any damages on the equipment or your very home while the installation is taking place, including medical costs if ever the installer gets hurt during the installation process.
Do not forget to check whether the contractor is in good standing with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. For bigger jobs, do not hesitate to ask the contractor for his latest copy of WSIB certificate.
Making a very big deposit
Many furnace companies do not require a deposit to be made, unless the equipment that will be installed is unique and might be subjected to restocking charges in the unfortunate case of a cancellation. If ever you will be required to make a deposit, it should amount to at least 20% of the total price and not more than that. All payments must also be addressed to their company stipulated in the contract, and never directly to the contractor.
Not asking for references
Contractors with good reputations will be happy to provide you with names and addresses of their previous customers. Or you can also ask from family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues any contractor they can highly recommend to you.
Having the notion that your system will never break down
In the event that things don’t work out well with your system, it can come in handy if the company you’ve chosen offers after-sales service capability. Ask whether they have a full service department and inquire whether how many vehicles do they have. Also ask if they respond to service calls after 11 PM or during the weekend. How soon can they come over to your home when your heating system breaks down? Make sure they assure priority emergency no-heat service to keep you warm and comfortable in case your gas furnace breaks down during the winter months.
Lacking in Proper Training or Instruction
Many contractors have the annoying habit of leaving you behind without fully explaining how to properly operate the system or maintain it, right after installing either your gas furnace or air conditioner. It’s not like you don’t have other things to do so it is extremely frustrating when you’re left alone to try to figure out how to re-set the thermostat or how to replace a filter.