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Questions to Ask Before Hiring an AC Contractor

Do you need a new air conditioner or an AC repair? You need a contractor who has high safety standards and engages in ethical professional practices. Before you call the first HVAC contractor you google, take a look at the questions to ask.

Do the Technicians Have Section 608 Certification?

Is your AC unit older? Air conditioners require a chemical refrigerant to cool your home. As the refrigerant moves through the AC’s lines it pulls the heat out of the air and turns into a gas. The outdoor condenser turns the gas back into a liquid and sends it into your home to repeat the cycle. Older air conditioners use a refrigerant known as HCFC-22 or R-22.

HCFC-22 refrigerant contributes to ozone layer depletion. The environmental impact of this refrigerant caused the U.S. government to pause and eliminate the use of it in residential and commercial appliances. While older units can still use HCFC-22, you can no longer buy new replacement refrigerant.

If you have an older air conditioner and need new refrigerant you need to use reclaimed HCFC-22 or (if possible) choose an AC retrofit. These services require a Section 608 certified technician, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Section 608 is part of the U.S. Clean Air Act and regulates how ozone-depleting refrigerants are used and who can service AC units.

Ask the contractor if the technicians are Section 608 certified. If they aren’t, and you have an older system that uses HCFC-22/R-22, you need to either replace your air conditioner or continue your HVAC technician search.

What Safety Measures Do You Have in Place?

The AC technicians will need to come into your home — unless they’ll only service the outdoor condenser unit. Before you allow strangers into your house, make sure the contractor has strict safety standards in place for all workers. These should include health and hygiene policies. Sick workers should stay home and healthy technicians should maintain a proper distance between themselves and the customers.

Ask the HVAC company what their safety procedures are and what you can do to support them. The technician may feel more comfortable if you wear a face covering, minimize contact, or stay at least six feet away at all times.

What Types of Air Conditioners Do You Sell and Install?

Whether you have a specific brand in mind or you want a certain type of air conditioner, you need to make sure the contractor sells and installs what you want. Avoid companies that repurpose older models and sell them as new or try to unload old inventory.

Even if they’re unused, older models may contain HCFC-22 refrigerant. Again, this type of product requires specialized servicing. A newly installed HCFC-22-containing air conditioner is environmentally unfriendly and may become hard to refill. While it is still possible for HVAC contractors to use reclaimed HCFC-22, over time this supply will dwindle and eventually disappear.

Do You Always Provide a Written Estimate?

A quality contractor should always provide customers with a written estimate before they start the job. Even though some states allow verbal contracts and consider these agreements binding, a written estimate can reduce the risks if there’s a dispute over charges.

A written estimate doesn’t necessarily mean the contractor provides you with a handwritten document. Some air conditioning companies prefer a paperless method. This germ-free and environmentally friendly option may come in the form of an emailed or similar online estimate. The estimate should include all costs and charges, such as labor, parts, and materials.

Are you ready to hire a new air conditioning contractor? Contact JR Putnam Plumbing, Heating and Air for more information.

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