Selecting a Competent Technician or Contractor

A licensed experienced HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) Contractor or Technician is required by SEER - Solutions for Energy Efficient Results for your HVAC Do It Yourself Project.

Why is a professional required if this is a do it yourself project?

(1.) To comply with many local and state codes and regulations. When using a permit for the installation of your HVAC system specific states and localities require licensing by those government agencies.

(2.) Manufacturers require that all systems must meet installation requirements from a licensed technician.

(3.) Specific federal laws regarding the handling of refrigerants require that only a person having an EPA Environmental Protection Agency license indicating this person has passed and met those requirements.

(4.) Experienced technicians are necessary for using specialized test equipment and tools to perform the final start up and hook up of all HVAC equipment to assure proper efficient safe operation and the manufacturers requirements.

(5.) The Warranty Validation Form requires an experienced licensed technician complete very specific tasks and measurements to provide evidence the equipment is installed according to and exceeding the manufacturers requirements.

(6.) The completion of the Warranty Validation Form and it's return to DESCO Energy provides Authorized Factory Warranty Protection and Technical Support for the life of the system.

How do I locate a qualified licensed technician/contractor?

Not in the Yellow pages. Contractors listed in the phone book are selling their own particular brand and are dealers of a specific manufacturer. They are not interested in performing a do it yourself assisted installation since this process has cut them out of a substantial profit and is very threatening. The established HVAC contractor/dealer will reject doing any type of work for a homeowner who purchased their equipment independently direct from a wholesaler. They will do and say anything to prevent you from attempting to do your own installation. Their attitude is a do it yourself installation threatens their livelihood, takes away from their sales and their profits. Although some homeowners have had success by locating a contractor in this manner, the vast majority have found the contractors did everything to undermine their confidence. Statements as to the legality of a do it yourself installation, attacks against the specific manufacturer or threats to report the homeowner to codes enforcement officers are typical reactions to be expected from dealer contractors listed in the phone book.

In some instances you may have to do some leg work to locate a qualified technician in your specific area but remember there's a lot to gain in financial savings.

Networking through family and friends will usually be of help.  Most people know somebody in the industry that works for a contractor. You are looking for a licensed experienced technician regularly employed in the heating and air conditioning field. Technicians working for contractors are usually very eager to perform independent work for any homeowner. Some homeowners find technicians or contractors at a local wholesale distribution supply house or simply by inquiring when they see a technician driving to a job site. Smaller contractors or new start contractors are also very willing to perform a start up and hook up. They can be located in ads in local newspapers and word of mouth. You should require any technician to be eager to perform this task for you. If the attitude changes to one of acting as though they're doing you a favor, either set your position to correct that nobody is doing you a favor unless it's free and you're looking for qualified, not free. Any technician/contractor entering any job to a homeowner as though their doing a favor needs a serious attitude adjustment. If you find yourself changing this attitude position move on to somebody else because this situation will only get worse. A technician/contractor with a "I'm doing you a favor" attitude will generally be unreliable and unprofessional and charge far more than most others. Anytime you are spending money there is no favor involved nor should there be any confusion from the beginning. There seems to be an epidemic of "favor" attitude from too many contractors. We caution you to view this as a big red flag to be avoided. 

If your installation requires a permit you may need a state and EPA licensed contractor. DESCO Energy has established through SEER - Solutions for Energy Efficient Results in cooperation with the manufacturers we represent to provide guidelines and requirements for installations. SEER requires the use of a qualified experienced EPA licensed technician to complete the Warranty Validation Form for the specific system being installed. You as the homeowner are required to return the form to our office to receive the Authorized Factory Warranty and technical support for the life of the equipment from DESCO Energy. 

For boiler installations you will need to find a technician skilled in the installation of boiler installations and set ups. There are strict requirements for setting the carbon monoxide and O2 levels as well as gas pressure. Preferably the technician should have a plumbing background and regular experience with hydronic boilers and heating systems. An HVAC technician with experience only in the forced air systems will most likely not be qualified nor properly trained or have the proper test equipment to set up high efficiency condensing boilers which are substantially more involved and complex than furnaces. Remember DESCO Energy is the only online source authorized by the manufacturer to sell boilers online and provide warranty and technical support. We reserve the right to limit sales to homeowners with the intent to complete an installation without a qualified technician for final start up and hook up.

There are what we call high dollar areas for HVAC installations and contractor/technicians. Those areas are Georgia, Washington D.C. and Southern California. Homeowners living in rural areas may have difficulty locating a qualified technician while most homeowners are surprised they have no problems.

Qualifying the technician is more important. Read our information on our web site and gain sufficient knowledge to properly qualify a technician. Questions relating to how refrigerant lines are joined to how to size a system to how to charge a system. A NATE Certified technician is qualified but most technicians are not NATE certified so a questioning process or a review of the requirements in the Warranty Validation Form should help you to qualify the technicians capabilities and expertise. Don't base confidence on years of experience unless the technician only has 3 or 4 years experience. Otherwise length of time in the trade could simply mean the same mistakes and problems have been repeated for a longer period of time. Many times when a technician/contractor is questioned about an incorrect method the most common reply is "I've been in this business forever and that's the way I've always done it." So he's been making the same mistake forever. This is not the attitude you want checking out your installation. What you want from the technician you select is experience that can find a mistake or a fault you may have made or optimize the equipment operation for maximum performance, efficiency, longevity and comfort. If the words such as maximized performance, energy efficiency and great comfort don't seem like words or an attitude that fit the profile of the technician you've selected, you need to keep looking. A technician/contractor that is not eager or enthusiastic about your project will usually not be reliable either.  

At DESCO Energy many times we perform a follow up with our customers to see where we can improve our services by asking them what problems they encountered during their installation process. In situations where the homeowner had a problem with the technician/contractor usually the technician more often than not is a friend or friend of a friend or relative and nothing was put in writing.

Problems to be Avoided 

Two items of caution to heed when dealing with anyone working for you as a contractor whether they are or are not a contractor. (1.) Always get it in writing specifically and exactly the work to be performed.  (2.) Make certain they carry workmen's compensation insurance or sign a hold harmless agreement if it is legal in your particular area.

Anyone working in your house without workmen's compensation insurance can and most likely will sue you if they get hurt. Depending on the seriousness of the injury and character of the person injured that lawsuit could bankrupt you if there is no insurance protection in the form of workmen's compensation. To know if your technician/contractor has insurance the insurance carrier needs to send you proof of insurance and not a copy from the technician/contractor.

In dealing with technicians and contractors there are two important rules you can count on to be true the majority of the time: (1.) A friend or relative acting as a contractor is more likely to take advantage of you financially than someone strictly in a business relationship. (2.) A friend or relative is more likely to sue you than a contractor if they are injured. This isn't a cynical statement based on conjecture but an insurance fact. We tend to foolishly believe and sometimes due to embarrassment take a totally different and more relaxed posture with friends and family in business dealings. We hope because of that relationship they're cutting us a break or doing us a favor.

Here's our advice based on the problems caused by those relationships as our customers have reported them to us. Unless the technician/contractor is doing the job for free they're not doing you a favor. Free is a favor but money in exchange for work performed is not a favor. Keep the friendship out of the job. Don't let the business relationship get off on the wrong foot from the beginning by letting it become a friend or favor relationship. Don't fall into the trap of not putting it in writing because of embarrassment or the relationship status. You may not want to use a formal contract but at least use a piece of paper to spell out exactly what is to be accomplished and the cost even if it's on a time and material basis. Don't listen to "I'll treat you right" or "We're friends and I'm doing you a favor so I don't see the need for a contract". Of the thousands of successful do it yourself projects we have assisted there are very few times a homeowner has problems except when dealing with friends or family. Friends of friends or distant cousins seem to be the worst. It is when the business relationship is played as a favor or friendship when problems occur because just as you may see a need to be more relaxed so does the other party. And so they are not reluctant to charge more on the assumption the relationship has superseded the necessity for them to be competitive and cost effective and they assume you won't check the price or comment on it. We have found that friend and family type relationships turned business are prone to more problems more times. Our statistics show that for 1,000 installations 19 will have had major problems with the technician/contractor. Of those 19,15 were family and/or friend relationships where the technician overcharged, or did a poor job or didn't respond in any type of timely manner. The relaxed relationship was the basis for the problem. Friends and family will on the average charge 50 to 100% more than the regular going market price for the same work. (So much for the favor.) Even when quoting a price in writing they will more often attempt to increase the price depending on how effective they feel they've been able to play on that friend/family relationship side.

On insurance remember anyone working on your home injures themselves they can and usually do sue you. And your homeowners insurance generally doesn't cover types of injuries that are a result of work being performed whether it was as a favor or whether money is being charged. Even though you may have homeowners insurance that covers injuries as they may occur under normal occurrences the insurance takes a no coverage view when work is being performed similar to or the same as a contractor. Regardless of whether that work is performed by a friend or complete stranger makes no difference. Every time a claim is made and someone is injured it always eventually comes out when there was work being performed. Insurance company investigators are rewarded and therefore search for any reasons why they do not have to cover a claim. Some insurance companies will provide coverage for such occasions but usually it is an exception bound to a business type of coverage rather than standard homeowners coverage. To be safe check with your insurance company to be certain what steps and procedures you should use to protect yourself because laws vary in many states. This information provided to you by DESCO Energy is a protective warning to make you aware of the potential of liability you could face. This warning includes contacting your insurance carrier for what steps and provisions you need to take to protect yourself against liability when using a contractor or technician with or without insurance coverage. Unfortunately we live in an extremely litigious society today and at DESCO Energy we have a serious obligation to our customers to warn them to protect themselves against serious lawsuits that can potentially bankrupt you. Regardless of whether this was a do it yourself any type project or a contractor any type project the same liability and warnings apply. Again the advice included in this article is not to be taken as a substitute for professional legal or insurance advice. It is a call to action for you to seek information and advice form your insurance carrier. The information in this article is sound business advice to all homeowners and is a result of 34 years of business experience from thousands of HVAC homeowner do it yourselfers.

In Summary - Look for Quality Training and Experience not Price

Locating a licensed technician is generally not difficult. A licensed experienced HVAC technician/contractor is required for all installations for the final start up and check out of the system. You have the right to use the licensed qualified technician of your choice. SEER - Solutions for Energy Efficient Results requires the technician/contractor has a minimum EPA license and is properly trained and regularly employed in the HVAC industry as a technician preferably with NATE Certification. The technician/contractor completing the requirements as outlined in the Warranty Validation Form will provide you with the Authorized Factory Warranty and technical support from DESCO Energy for the life of the equipment. Interview and qualify the technician/contractor. Search for a qualified well trained and educated, experienced technician/contractor at a reasonable price. Interview and qualify the contractor/technician by knowing the right questions to ask. Establish guidelines with our Warranty Validation Form and also from our library Guidelines for an HVAC Installation Part 1 and 2 as well as the other valuable information from our web site. Realize the more you know the more successful your installation will become and the quality of the technician/contractor. Try to find a NATE Certified Technician/Contractor. Keep it business and put it in writing. If it's worth saying it's worth putting in writing. Make certain you and the technician/contractor are protected against injury liabilities that could result. Nothing is a favor unless it's free. Most times free isn't worth what you paid for it. You have no control over free. And free does not protect you against injury liability or lawsuits. Realizing the importance of a well trained and experienced technician can't be overstressed. Saving substantially in the process of a do it yourself project at 50 to 75% over a contractor quoted price is a tremendous savings. Don't short change yourself by hiring anyone less than the best for the final start up and check out process. Look for quality in the knowledge and experience first and then negotiate a reasonable price.    

If you are located within 100 miles of our operations at DESCO Energy which includes York, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington, D.C. we have technicians readily available to assist you from several sources. For all other locations where you may be having difficulty locating a technician/contractor call us toll free 877-265-9764 or email at info@descoenergy.com

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