Switching HVAC contractors

Some property managers feel like they have to make do with an HVAC contractor that isn’t doing good work because getting a new one would be too much effort, and hey, maybe they’ll get better. And fair enough, it can be a little bit of trouble switching HVAC contractors, but after a certain point, you may just have to. Tenants are going to start complaining if your heating and cooling work poorly. They’ll leave bad reviews and perhaps start moving out themselves when they can. If you’re a superintendent or property manager you’re responsible for climate control, and your job may depend on having a good contractor.

So if you feel like your residential property is stuck with an incompetent or unethical contractor, switching to a better one may be easier than you think.

Examine your contract

You might want to bring in your lawyer and look for the following:

  • Check how long it is for. One year is pretty common.
  • Check if there is an early-out option. Some contracts allow you to terminate with a 30-day notice if you’re up to date on payments.
  • Check if there is an early termination penalty, and what kind and how much it is.
  • Check if there’s a way to terminate the contract without fault if you can show the contractor is in breach by doing poor work.

And if poor service does allow you to terminate early, proceed to the next step

Get an independent evaluation

Have an inspector from a company not affiliated with your contractor (and preferably not one of the companies you’d switch to either) come and evaluate your current contractor’s work. The inspection can confirm that you’re paying for poor work and set out in detail what the contractor is doing wrong, including things like

  • Clogged condensate lines
  • Clogged filters
  • Worn-out belts or pulleys
  • Dirty drain pans or coils
  • Cracks, however small, anywhere on the boiler, furnace, or compressor

You can then use these findings either to justify early termination or else negotiate for better work or lower fees.

Find a new contractor

If your contract offers you a possible way out, and if the inspection shows you’ve been getting poor service, it’s time to look for another contractor. And maybe you’re worried that because you chose a bad contractor last time, you’ll choose one again. But you can avoid making a second mistake by asking the right questions.

  • How long have you been working as an HVAC professional?
  • How many deployable assets (techs, vehicles) do you have in this area?
  • What is your emergency response time?
  • How quickly can you get new parts?
  • What maintenance services do you include in a residential property contract, and how often?
  • What’s included in your preventative maintenance?
  • Does my residential property get a dedicated tech (i.e. the same one each time)?
  • What training do your techs have?
  • Do you inspect your techs’ work from time to time?
  • How do you report to us about completed jobs?
  • Do you have any recommendations from other residential property clients?

Know the contract well

The contract should be as plain-written as possible, easy for both parties to understand. If the contractor gives you one full of jargon you can’t be sure you understand, that could be a problem. Either get clarification, have the section reworded, or look for a different contractor.

Get a good transition plan

Ask your prospects for their plans for a smooth transition from the old contractor to the new one. Good contractors will be clear and upfront about expectations, when service starts, who will be onsite, and a contact number. Service should begin with a thorough inventory of your HVAC systems and any initial instructions before regular maintenance begins.

Twin Air can help

If you run a residential property in the Northern Virginia area, Twin Air in Manassas can help. We have nearly 20 years of experience in the field and are certified Trane Comfort Specialists. Call us at (703) 754-1062 or reach out on our website.

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