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How To Choose A Commercial HVAC Contractor

Important Things to Look For When Trying to Find the Right Commercial HVAC Contractor to Take Care of Your Business

The commercial HVAC industry is vast. There are many different types of commercial applications, systems, and technologies available to address them. Technology is also improving all of the time, making the commercial HVAC industry more and more sophisticated every day. 

It is now quite common for architects and engineers to be part of the design and bidding phases of commercial HVAC projects. These can include heat pumps, chillers, furnaces, radiant sources of heat, air conditioners, air handlers, VRV/VRF, dedicated ventilation systems, and many other applications. Even the type of power that is used and the type of fuel consumed by the equipment can vary widely in commercial HVAC applications. 

It is very important, therefore, to take the time to select the right commercial HVAC contractor to take care of the equipment at your place of business. A competent and qualified commercial HVAC contractor should have several characteristics:

7 Characteristics of a Good Commercial HVAC Contractor:

  1. Understands and leverages new technology.
  2. Understands the importance of regular maintenance on HVAC equipment.
  3. Has experience working in all facets of commercial HVAC service.
  4. Offers comprehensive system maintenance, repair and installation services.
  5. Can provide thorough cost analysis and projected return on investment.
  6. Comes highly referred.
  7. Can have an in-depth discussion with you about the many types of air quality solutions that are available with commercial HVAC equipment applications. 

If you are in a manufacturing environment, this last point could be one of the most critical components to your selection of your commercial HVAC contractor. Air quality is as important a consideration as anything else when selecting equipment.

There are a few common threads through this list of characteristics you should be looking for before hiring any commercial HVAC company: 

  • Does the company have sufficient experience and know what it’s doing?
  • Does the company understand that maintaining commercial HVAC equipment is the best thing that you can do for the environment, the longevity of your equipment and your budget?
  • Does the company understand “the math” and how to determine when system replacement is the right thing to do based on the numbers? 

How To Tell If A Commercial HVAC Contractor Is Experienced?

The best place to start is by simply asking any contractor who would like to earn your business! Contractors should always be ready to discuss exciting projects that they have been a part of. Most have a brochure or a booklet that outlines what their capabilities are, complete with pictures and project description. If one is not offered to you, ask! 

You can also check the contractor’s website for industry affiliations and accolades/awards as well. Companies that are on the cutting edge and leverage new technologies are always proud to advertise themselves as such. 

Finally, make sure to ask for referrals. Good companies should have many to offer and should be more than willing to share.

How To Tell If A Commercial HVAC Contractor Understands The Importance Of Maintenance?

Contractors that understand the importance of maintenance begin talking about it at the onset of the relationship. They will come equipped with a brochure or some other similar tool to highlight all of the advantages associated with performing routine maintenance on commercial HVAC systems. 

Contractors that simply try to sell you repairs or equipment without addressing the ongoing health of the system, like how to extend the life of your equipment and increase your energy efficiency in the future, do not have your best interest in mind. 

The maintenance agreement should be the lifeblood of your relationship with your commercial HVAC contractor. You should know exactly what to expect and when. Make sure that regular air filter changes are discussed and included as part of your maintenance strategy as well. Any contractor that says that filters are not included in maintenance should be avoided. 

Many unscrupulous commercial HVAC contractors will not offer filters because they are only interested in selling repairs and new installations. Filters are not a big money maker in the commercial HVAC industry, but they are critical in preserving the life of your system. Good contractors understand that changing filters is a critical part of the maintenance of your system and they will pass that information along without having to be asked.

7 Biggest Benefits to Routine Maintenance on Commercial HVAC Systems

  1. Keeps manufacturers’ warranties valid and in good standing.
  2. Reduces the carbon footprint of your facility.
  3. Extends the life of your equipment.
  4. Keeps employees more comfortable and happier.
  5. Increases employee productivity with less sick days and a healthier workplace.
  6. Parts and components are changed out when the time is right, not only when it is incredibly hot or cold outside which always guarantees a higher repair bill.
  7. Peace of mind that your system will not be out of service when it really counts.

How To Tell If A Company Is Giving Me All Of The Information That I Need To Make An Educated Decision Based On The Numbers?

Commercial HVAC companies suggesting that you spend tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of dollars replacing your equipment should always be willing to give you a thorough cost analysis and an expected return on investment (ROI). Commercial HVAC equipment is never cheap and it always makes sense to see what is available to help your business absorb the impact of its cost. Such analyses should always include the following:

Key components to a commercial HVAC system return-on-investment (ROI) analysis:

  • Efficiency – How much more efficient the new HVAC equipment will be compared to the existing equipment. You can use these numbers to estimate savings on utility bills.
  • Depreciation – The depreciation schedule allowed by the IRS. The Section 179 Deduction that is currently available as part of the tax code could allow you to deduct 100% of your investment up to $1 million in the same year that it was purchased/installed.
  • Savings – What the anticipated savings will be due to the new equipment not requiring service or repairs and having a new manufacturer’s warranty. 
  • Incentives – A detailed description of any and all local, state and federal tax credit or other incentives available. This description should include how to apply for all of the incentives, mention any associated deadlines, etc.

Conclusion

Any commercial HVAC company that you are considering giving your future business to, should not only understand all of these concepts, but they should be the ones bringing them to your attention, not the other way around. 

Now that you know what to keep your eye out for, it should be fairly easy to see if you are dealing with a competent, sophisticated commercial HVAC company, one that understands all aspects of the business and will save you money in the long run. There will always be opportunists that are looking to make a quick sale from an unsuspecting customer. 

Proceed with caution when hiring any contractor that does not come prepared to show you examples of previous work, customer reviews, cost analysis, etc.

Commercial HVAC maintenance, service and installation is very much a “you get what you pay for” scenario. Shopping strictly on price without consideration for a company’s capacity, capability, and expertise will often end up costing more than selecting the right company from the very beginning.

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