By Lisa Trymbiski
From the February 2023 Issue
Facility managers work with many different types of service providers in the course of their jobs. It can be a challenge to understand what to look for in a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor, especially for FMs that aren’t already familiar with HVAC systems and the industry.
It’s critical to find a company that has the experience and knowledge to provide heating and cooling solutions and address issues that arise reliably and quickly. It is also important to choose a provider that has strong customer service skills and is easy to work with. Here’s what you should consider when looking for an HVAC contractor:
Is Licensed, Bonded, And Insured
While some states don’t require HVAC technicians to obtain licenses, many do. Even if your state does not require HVAC contractor licenses, you should still check whether they have industry certification to ensure they have proper training. Under the Clean Air Act, all HVAC technicians must be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to handle coolants. Verify the contractor and its employees have this certification before agreeing to contract with the company. Before a technician can get a Section 608 certification from the EPA, they must complete three years of training and pass a certification exam.
If your state does require HVAC licenses, verify the status of the contractor’s license with your state’s licensing board. In states where licensing is required, an HVAC contractor will also need an HVAC bond. Check the contractor’s bond and its status to confirm it is valid. A contractor’s bond can protect your company in case the contractor fails to perform as promised or commits any regulatory violations.
Finding the right
can help you save money,
prevent problems, and
ensure legal compliance.
Finally, make sure the HVAC contractor has all relevant types of insurance, including commercial liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance. Insurance can help to transfer the risk so that your company can avoid potential losses caused by accidents and injuries. The contractor’s commercial liability insurance will protect your company if a technician damages your property or causes injuries to your customers or employees while working on the site. Workers’ compensation insurance protects your company from liability if an HVAC technician employed by the contractor is injured while working on your property.
Knows The Local Building Codes
If you are hiring an HVAC contractor to install an HVAC system in your facility, they must know the local building codes of your city or county. This is imperative—you want the HVAC contractor to meet all legal requirements for the installation. Ask a prospective company about its permitting process. The HVAC contractor should know the permits that will be required and pull them for your company instead of asking you to pull them for the contractor. When the contractor you hire is responsible for obtaining the permits, they will be more likely to perform the work according to the legal requirements. This can help you save time, avoid delays, and prevent losses from having to correct substandard work following a failed inspection.
Has The Right Equipment And Access To Parts
When issues arise with your facility’s HVAC system, you need to have the work completed quickly and correctly. For that reason, it’s important to confirm that the contractor you hire has the right equipment and tools, including the following:
- Leak detection equipment
- Charging scales
- Coil fin straighteners
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Thermal imaging tools
Why Do HVAC Systems Lose Efficiency Over Time?
You’ll also want to make sure that the company you choose has ready access to parts. It can be maddening to have to wait several days for parts to arrive before your HVAC system can be repaired. Ask the company if it carries common parts on its trucks and whether it has agreements with parts warehouses in your area so that parts can be obtained quickly.
HVAC contractors that leverage technology can save your company time and money. Technology allows a contractor to respond faster and provide better service when you need it. Ask the contractor about the types of technology the company uses to facilitate its work. They should have mobile devices so that their technicians can access parts information, your customer file, and the HVAC company’s work orders.
The company you choose should also use GPS systems and fleet management software that allow it to track the location of every vehicle in its fleet so that you can get an accurate estimate of the time of a vehicle’s arrival at your facility. Technology can also help enable easier invoicing.
Has Awareness of Energy And Other Costs
If you manage a large facility, you likely need to reduce the costs your company incurs with the building’s systems. A leading cost for many large facilities is their energy expenditures. While you can’t control how much electricity or gas costs, you can control the amount your facility uses to an extent. A good HVAC contractor should make recommendations for energy-efficient equipment that can save money, reduce costs, and increase interior comfort. Your contractor should also be able to explain how routine maintenance can save your company more and recommend retrofits if your system is older.
Good HVAC contractors should also be able to help you budget for the replacement of the installed HVAC system equipment so that your company can include it in its annual budgeting process. The HVAC company should understand your business’s needs and explain how to budget for future capital expenditures when your system becomes obsolete. This can help your company avoid a large, unplanned capital expenditure that hasn’t been included in its budget.
The right HVAC contractor should prioritize the safety of its technicians and your employees. When a technician arrives on site, watch to ensure they follow safe practices and use the company-provided safety equipment. Ask the company about its safety practices and what it does to prevent refrigerant and carbon monoxide leaks. The company should also be able to explain the steps it takes to avoid accidents.
Finding the right HVAC contractor can help you save money, prevent problems, and ensure legal compliance. By taking the time to confirm the contractor’s certifications, bond, license, safety procedures, and access to equipment, you can prevent potential headaches that might otherwise arise.
Trymbiski is the manager at Bryant Surety Bonds leading a team of talented professionals assisting clients in the surety bond industry. Education, superior service, and compliance are her top priorities in the completion of a successful business transaction.
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