In our world, this is a question that we are asked quite often. Many clients want to know how much time they have before they need to replace the HVAC System in their home. The problem is that there is no crystal ball that gives us that insight or information. Instead, we rely on industry best-practices, data analytics and past experience.
How much longer do we have, Doc?
Well, it would never be appropriate for us to give you that answer. We can say a year, and see it run five more years before it fails. We can say five years, and see it fail tomorrow. Why is this so difficult? Mechanical devices are much like a human body. Some organs may last a very long time, and others, a very short time. We'd be lying to you if we told you that we knew exactly when your unit will run "one last time."
What can I do to prevent these failures?
Preventative Maintenance is the best method of preventing your unit from its early demise. The truth is, most clients forget all about it...until it stops working. Then, they realize that they have not replaced the air filter in months or years. But beyond that filter, there are many other components in an HVAC System that can foul, fail, or cause significant performance degradation.
Can't I buy a new unit online and have you install it for me?
Most reputable contractors would never install a customer supplied air conditioning and heating system. Why? Simply stated, it is good risk-management to only install equipment and materials that the contractor purchased. From a health, safety, and liability perspective - it's generally considered to be a "no-no" to install customer supplied equipment. Would you bring your own steak to the steakhouse and ask them to cook it up for you?
Why did the other contractor tell me I had to replace my HVAC System?
This is another question that we run into frequently. We know from our own experience that the contractors oftentimes "recommend" replacement of the system - and rarely tell a homeowner that they "must". Again, we do not have a crystal ball that can tell us how many more times it will start - and we definitely do not always know what will fail first.
What are my options?
While the vast majority of contractors out there work hard to do things the right way, there's a good amount of those contractors that do not continue to hone their craft after they've started their business. In this day and age, you'll lose ground very quickly if you're not studying and keeping up with the times and technology that is being implemented.
We recommend that you review all of your equipment and repair options - then, select what best fits your budget and your comfort needs. For some people, savings or reducing their power consumption is not an issue. Some people do not care about the unit turning on and off every few minutes. Some people don't want to invest any more than the bare minimum into their property...and others want the top-of-the-line unit with all of the bells and whistles.
How many bids should I get before deciding?
Most homeowners get at least 2-3 bids before purchasing their new HVAC System. Some homeowners rely on their intuition and instinct. If you feel like you're getting a bad deal, you should always verify that the deal is right for you. Some contractors charge more for their services, some charge less - some have to earn a specific amount of money on every job to ensure that their business stays alive and thriving.
We believe that the key factors that should be taken into consideration when selecting a contractor are this:
Does the contractor have a good reputation?
Does the contractor have logos on their service vehicles?
Does the contractor have a legal Home Improvement Contract?
Does the contractor design the system around your needs?
Does the contractor offer more than a 1-Year Labor Warranty?
Does the contractor display respect for your time and property?
Does the contractor have any specific guarantees that stand out?
Does the contractor offer a premium brand?
Does the contractor collect only 10% Down (Not to exceed $1,000)
Does the contractor offer you multiple equipment/repair options?
Beyond those ten items, there are many others to take into consideration when choosing a contractor to handle your home improvement project. These are just a few of the things that you should be weighing when making your decision.
How much does the contractor "make" on the job?
Every contractor is different. Some may have higher overhead, some may have higher workers compensation costs because of accidents, some may only be trying to churn cash flow into their organization. One important thing to remember is that those who are just churning cash may eventually be in a tough spot. This could potentially leave you at risk of losing those guarantees or warranties!
In the HVAC Industry, most contractors only make approximately 10-15% "Profit" on the job. All of the other expenses are used for permitting, labor, insurance, advertising, and training.