Buying a new furnace is not an easy task. It is a major decision in as much as it is a big investment. Make it a point to do your research and ask all the right questions to avoid these ten common mistakes on how to buy a furnace.
1. Hiring an unlicensed and unqualified heating contractor.
Working with the right contractor is a crucial aspect of the buying process – but many homeowners fail to ask the right questions to ensure the contractor they end up working with has all the right license and qualifications required for a furnace installation. Don’t forget to ask if they are accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Those who are members of the BBB are committed to maintaining the highest level of ethics and integrity in communications, customer service, dispute resolution, and advertising.
2. Getting only a single quote.
Make it a habit of asking for at least three quotes, all the while ensuring that all of them are written on paper. Go over these quotations and make a comparison of the warranties offered and equipment quality.
Observe the sense of professionalism of the contractor and how knowledgeable they are about heating systems in general. Determine how long they have been working as a professional in the field. You’ll have an idea of your future working relationship with them on how well they receive you during your first encounter.
3. Choosing the Lowest Bidder
Go after the quality of work and equipment rather than how much you’d be spending based on the contractor’s quote. For instance, the lowest bidder may not necessarily offer 24-hour services or parts and service maintenance agreements after completing the installation.
4. Focusing on the overall price.
Your decision should not solely revolve on the price of the installation. You have to deal with the noise level of your unit in your day-to-day life. Meanwhile, your system’s energy efficiency pretty much dictates how much you end up paying on your monthly utility bill. Ask important questions involving the AFUE rating when worried about energy efficiency. By going with the ideal unit for your home and lifestyle, you’d be able to save money without having to sacrifice comfort.
AFUE is a measurement of the furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy. For instance, a 90% AFUE means that that the furnace converts 90 percent of the energy into heat. The higher the AFUE, the higher its efficiency.
5. Ignoring the warranty’s fine print.
Don’t forget to go over the contractor’s warranty and read it carefully. Always ask if such warranties cover not only parts but labor as well. Moreover, inquire whether there will be additional charges on top of what’s covered by the warranty, like after-hours service labor charges. Do not agree to transact with a contractor unless they give you a written warranty for your reference.
6. Not asking about insurance coverage.
The contractor you hired is always liable to the public as well as property damage insurance. If the contractor decides to hire a sub-contractor, they should only do so if they have the appropriate liability insurance. For contractors that don’t have insurance, the homeowner will likely be held liable for any damage to equipment, even to your own home and property, while installing the furnace including medical costs in case the contractor/ installer gets hurt on the job.
Also, only work with contractors who are members of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and in good standing at that. For bigger jobs, it won’t hurt if you ask for the most recent copy of their WSIB certificate.
7. Paying a very big deposit.
Only pay around 20% of the total installation cost and address the payment to the company identified in the contract.
8. Failure to ask for references.
Contractors with a good reputation won’t have second thoughts furnishing you with a list of references, or previous clients they worked with in the past.
You can also ask family, friends, and neighbors for recommendations on the best contractors they’ve worked with before.
9. Thinking you won’t ever have a problem with your system.
Make sure you deal with a contractor who offers after-sales service. Check whether they have a service department and the number of service vehicles they own. Will they be able to answer your call during weekends or after 11 pm? How soon can they get to you if your furnace breaks down? Those are just some of the questions you need to ask to ensure you can have your furnace running again in case of a breakdown in the midst of winter.
10. Hiring someone who does not have the right education or training.
Many contractors don’t educate their clients after installing their new heating system. As soon as they leave, the homeowners are clueless about their new furnace and fear it most of the time, especially sophisticated gadgets like their thermostats and furnace filters. Hire a contractor who doesn’t mind going the extra mile in teaching you all about your furnace and how it works.
There’s no reason for you to fret that you don’t know how to buy a furnace as long as you avoid these ten costly mistakes that are easy to do to begin with.