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Contractors, BBB warn about pitfalls when hiring heating contractors

When your heat isn’t working, the last thing you want is to get ripped off trying to get it working again.

The Better Business Bureau has some tips for consumers to help them pick the right person for the job.

When you’re trying to get a heater working again, BBB officials said it’s important to be careful with who you hire for the job.

They say one way to quickly check a contractors reputation, look for their rating on the BBB website. The next thing to do is ask about their warranty, whether they are insured, and compare estimates with other companies. Chad Bruening with Bruening Heating and A/C said don’t work with contractors asking you to pay before the work begins.

“You don’t wanna have a guy doing work down in your basement and then say here’s a bill that you didn’t expect, so look for a company that does upfront pricing, look for a company that does a full diagnostic of your system,” said Bruening.

Bruening said that full diagnostic is important because if your contractor isn’t fixing the source of the problem, it could cause even more expensive damage to other parts of your heating system.

He said there are some things you can do yourself also, like make sure you have a clean filter installed, and don’t leave any boxes or other items near your heater.

BBB recommends consumers consider the following when looking for a heating contractor:

Research the company’s background and licensing. Visit bbb.org for a BBB Business Profile and BBB Customer Reviews on any service company you plan to hire. Learn more about its reputation and any history of complaints. Always confirm that the company is licensed and insured.

Compare prices and service packages. Get at least three estimates for any heating repair, maintenance or replacement. All bids should be in writing and should provide a full description of the services to be provided and the materials to be used.

Review warranty coverage. Find out if the company offers any type of warranty or guarantee. Make certain you understand the terms and conditions of the coverage. Also, be sure to check the warranty on your current furnace to determine whether any repairs or replacements may be covered.

Ask about energy efficiency. Many new furnaces are manufactured to be more energy-efficient than others. Look for the ENERGY STAR label to find out more about products that may cost a little more up front, but save you in energy costs over time. Some models may even be eligible for a tax credit. Ask your HVAC contractor to verify tax credit eligibility and provide the Manufacturer Certification Statement for the equipment you plan to purchase.

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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