How to Find a Good HVAC Contractor

One of the most common questions we get asked here at TJ's is "How can I find a good, trustworthy HVAC contractor?"

We get it! Hiring someone to come in and check out your HVAC system, a system you maybe don't know much about, leaves you at their mercy when it comes to suggestions and pricing. 

In this post, we'll give you the same tips we give to our own family and friends! 

  • Have you checked or changed your filter lately?

    • Did you know that clogged filters are the primary cause of heating & cooling problems? Checking the filter should be your first step if you have issues with the performance of your HVAC system. This simple step could save you a trip fee, at a minimum. Don’t call anyone until you have checked that filter (we recommend using a basic, cheap filter and changing it monthly).

  • Check thermostat batteries 

    • For any issues with thermostats, your first step should always be to check batteries.

  • Verify contractor licensing

    • Before hiring a contractor, we highly recommend that you verify their license to work on HVAC/ mechanical. This is important for a few different reasons:

      • Licensing ensures that your contractor is qualified to work on the equipment.

      • In order to keep their licenses valid, contractors must keep work comp and general liability policies on file with that municipality. Should the contractor’s insurances lapse, the municipality will suspend their license until proof of coverage has been updated.
    • There are a ton of unlicensed contractors offering HVAC and mechanical services in the Denver metro. In fact, licensed companies are out-numbered 7 to 1 in Colorado by unlicensed companies (in most cases, this does not stop unlicensed companies from advertising as if they are licensed). Advertising is not licensure. Be sure to vet your contractors!
    • As Denver is currently the most restrictive municipality, we recommend searching for contractor licensing here.
      • When reading the different licensure types, keep in mind the following information: 
        • Steam & Hot Water refers to the contractor’s ability to replace boilers
        • H&V refers to the contractor’s ability to replace forced air systems (furnaces, heat exchangers).
        • Refrigeration refers to the contractor’s ability to replace AC systems (specifically to handle to refrigerant in those systems).
        • Class B refers to the ability to perform work in single family residences.
        • Class A refers to the ability to perform work in multi-family and commercial buildings.
  • Make sure contractor provides permits

    • Permits are required for the replacement of any HVAC or mechanical equipment. This includes furnaces, water heaters, air handlers, boilers and AC systems. If your contractor is licensed, this should be something they provide with every equipment installation or replacement. Some contractors use scare tactics and insinuate that if a city inspector comes to your home, you will get dinged for any and all code issues in the entire home. This is not accurate. Depending on the type of permit (mechanical, plumbing, roofing, etc.) the city will send an inspector who is assigned to that division. They specialize in and focus on these specific fields.

    • NOTE: If your contractor asks you to pull your own permit, find a new contractor. Adherence to code is the responsibility of the permit holder! If you pull the permit and your contractor installs equipment out of code, inspection will not pass and additional costs to bring your new system up to code will be YOUR responsibility. Do not pull permits for any contractor. This is a huge red flag.

  • How much is too much?

    • This is a tricky question and the answer varies by company. The training, licensing, salaries and overhead for each employee within a company varies greatly, which will cause their pricing to be higher or lower than another company. Depending on who you are comparing a company to, price differences can swing from nothing to thousands of dollars. Each company’s business model is a bit different. As for us, we recommend hiring a fully licensed company that values people- employees and customers. After verifying licensing, reading reviews on BBB and sites like HomeAdvisor and Yelp will also help narrow the options down to a company you feel comfortable having in your home.

We hope you learned some of our most important tips for finding an HVAC contractor! Feel free to contact us here if you're interested in having TJ's take a look at your HVAC system!