It can be difficult to find a trustworthy HVAC contractor. Let alone an HVAC contractor with indoor air quality experience and expertise! Unqualified HVAC contractors will likely produce low-quality work, negatively impacting your home’s indoor air quality. Or, they simply won’t be as up-to-date on the latest technology and solutions to offer personalized recommendations for your indoor space. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. In order to avoid HVAC and IAQ issues as a result of poor workmanship, it’s important to find the right HVAC contractor. That is, one also trained as an IAQ expert for home upgrades.
HVAC Contractor vs. IAQ Expert
First and foremost, you may be wondering what the difference is between an HVAC contractor and an IAQ expert. Or, if there even is a difference? So, let’s compare the two and find the best candidate to facilitate your home upgrades.
An HVAC contractor is a company that provides heating, ventilation and air-conditioning services. Hence the acronym HVAC. There are roughly 120,000 HVAC companies across the United States. HVAC contractors employ technicians that install, maintain and repair HVAC units. HVAC businesses usually specialize in either residential systems or commercial buildings. Most HVAC contractors and techs do not specialize in indoor air quality, or even offer IAQ products and services!
An IAQ expert is someone that is well versed in the world of indoor air quality. That can take a lot of forms. A professional that’s knowledgeable about indoor air include engineers, IAQ investigators, IAQ consultants or inspectors, mold remediation experts, those skilled in asbestos, lead or radon mitigation in addition to builders, damage restoration workers and, of course, certain HVAC contractors. Here’s how to best decide which expert to use for your space.
Home Upgrades IAQ Expert
Whereas commercial buildings benefit from a two-step process of hiring a consultant to determine the problem and then a contractor to solve the issue, that’s not usually necessary for residential systems. Instead, finding the right home services contractor that is skilled in both HVAC and IAQ is the better option. Plus, an HVAC contractor with IAQ expertise can also determine if further steps are necessary and recommend a specialist! An HVAC contractor looks at the whole air quality system in your home. Compared to say, a lead mitigation professional who can only focus on the particular issue they’re trained in. More than likely, you would benefit from hiring someone who can take a general approach and hone in on the specifics when needed.
That’s why the best option is an HVAC contractor who is also an IAQ expert for home upgrades. They have a thorough understanding of filtration, purification, humidity control, ventilation, source control and IAQ products and services. Additionally, they have a fundamental comprehension of HVAC units.
As indoor air quality training is not yet a staple in most HVAC schools or training programs, it’s important to find a contractor with proven IAQ experience, certification or added education. Here are a couple of things to look for in a contractor for IAQ home upgrades.
How to Choose the Best HVAC Contractor
The best HVAC contractor / IAQ expert combo will check all of the following boxes. If they don’t, start running!
1. Research, Research, Research
Research is the most important part of choosing the best HVAC contractor for your home upgrades. First, visit the company’s website and social media profiles and take note of their services, products and offers. Review photos of previous projects or customer testimonials if available.
Second, peruse websites such as Yelp, Google and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). These websites allow customers to give their honest opinions about the services they received. If companies have a poor rating (particularly with the BBB) then you should look elsewhere.
Finally, ask friends and family if they have any potential referrals that they worked with in the past. Pay close attention to advice from other homeowners!
An alternative option is to use trusted IAQ resources that offer contractor directories to make your research process easier. And as always, we are more than happy to help you find a local contractor with IAQ training and experience from our personal contacts!
2. Estimates, Quotes and Low Bids
Estimates and quotes should be provided in writing prior to the project. The cost of fees, labor and equipment should be clearly stated. Additionally, you should have an understanding of the work to be done and when the payment will be due. There should be no surprises.
After receiving an estimate, feel free to contact other HVAC contractors. Compare costs, ratings, solutions, suggested recommendations and the like. Be mindful of low bids as they may indicate the use of outdated equipment or poor workmanship. Cheaper isn’t always better, especially when it comes to healthy housing.
3. Licensed, Bonded, Insured and Certified
Notably, HVAC contractors must be licensed, bonded and insured. You’ll find the contractor’s license number on their website, business cards, brochures and other materials. Preferably, their technicians have undergone a background check. Feel free to ask the contractor directly about their security measures. They should have the appropriate certifications which show they spent time learning in an accredited HVAC program or completed an industry apprenticeship. Additional certifications can include EPA, NATE, HVAC Excellence and RSES or RETA. These certifications ensure that they provide high-quality, professional, competent service.
4. Home Evaluations
Evaluating your home over the phone is virtually impossible. A reputable HVAC contractor will send a technician to your home to inspect your HVAC unit, acquire the appropriate measurements and discuss previous issues. The technician will then inform you of any necessary repairs or replacements and provide a fair estimate.
5. HVAC Contractors With IAQ Training
Similar to HVAC certification, there is no single overarching IAQ accreditation. Credentials to look for can include IAQA membership, UL IAQ certification, additional EPA certifications or proof of extra training or education in the field. Another option is the possibility of a CIE or CIEC accredited expert as a company employee. There are also several online IAQ training programs that existing HVAC contractors and techs complete to add IAQ services and product installations. The bottom line is: there are a few options of what adequate IAQ training and experience can look like in an HVAC contractor. Those with the right background will be forthcoming about the information.
Choosing an IAQ Expert for Home Upgrades
We suggest working with an HVAC contractor that specializes in indoor air quality. A technician with residential HVAC experience and residential IAQ expertise and training will provide you with the best home upgrades. While conducting your research, review the contractor’s website and social media and look for mentions of IAQ certification(s). Alternatively, you can always call the contractor and directly ask if they specialize in indoor air quality. An honest company will always be willing to provide you with license and certification information.
If you’re having trouble finding a local HVAC contractor or IAQ expert, you can reach out to us by filling out our find an expert form! Let us do the work for you by finding a trusted qualified local contractor. Learn more about our process and find the form here.