The term “HVAC” is a common abbreviation for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. An HVAC contractor is a person who is trained to install, service, and maintain heaters, air conditioners, and heat pumps. Most states require an HVAC technician to be licensed. The license usually requires the technician to pass written exams and have two to five years of classroom training and/or on-the-job experience. Once licensed, they need to have minimum levels of insurance and bonding.
Plainly, HVAC professionals and technicians receive a considerable amount of training. An HVAC contractor often has an associate’s degree in electronics, electrical engineering, computer science or equivalent job experience. Training for HVAC technicians includes time in the classroom and successful completion of hands-on tasks. After graduation, technicians often do an apprenticeship, working alongside a professional HVAC technician for a period of time. Trained HVAC technicians can become certified in specialty areas such as air conditioning, heat pumps, gas heating, solar heating, geothermal heating, and commercial refrigeration.
HVAC professionals also may be members of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), an international technical society for all individuals and organizations interested in HVAC. ASHRAE data help guide widely accepted standards for HVAC design. HVAC professionals need to keep up with the latest technology being used in HVAC systems.
In addition to having a thorough understanding of the mechanics of an HVAC system, a well-qualified HVAC contractor will need to have a range of additional expertise. For example, the contractor has to understand how the HVAC system operates in conjunction with the electrical system, combustion systems, and the airflow through the ductwork to be able to ensure an HVAC system is operating at optimal performance levels. In some states, the HVAC contractor may also need a license or certification to repair or install the plumbing necessary for oil or natural gas fueled heating equipment.
In short, proper maintenance and repair of your HVAC system is not a DIY project. It requires a properly licensed expert.
Why Hire an HVAC Contractor
You can do some service on your HVAC system yourself. You can hose down your condenser and coils to keep it clear of debris, change the air filters at least every three months, and check for water in the drain pan and flush out the drain hose. However, these simple DIY tasks are not enough to keep your HVAC system in top working condition.
Consider that an HVAC system design uses principles of mechanical engineering, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer. Your HVAC system is probably the most expensive and complicated mechanical system in your home. When it needs service or repair, use a contractor with the necessary knowledge and skill to ensure the work is done correctly and your system continues to operate efficiently.
An HVAC contractor can do a lot for your system that you simply are not equipped to do. As explained above, an HVAC contractor undergoes a rigorous training and apprenticeship program before becoming licensed to work on anyone’s HVAC system.
When to Call in a Professional HVAC Contractor
If your air conditioning does not come on, check the power source and any circuit breakers. Make sure the batteries in the thermostat are good. If the power is on but the system does not operate, you need the help of an HVAC expert. Likewise, if the system is operating but not blowing cool air, it is time to call an HVAC contractor. The problem could be remedied simply by repairing or replacing a worn-out part or by replacing a major component. Your HVAC contractor can diagnose it and recommend the best course of action.
When you call an HVAC contractor for a service estimate, a reputable contractor should be willing to inspect your system to determine whether it is properly sized for your home, examine it for air leaks, measure the air flow, inspect your insulation, and generally make sure your system components meet HVAC guidelines and the manufacturer’s specifications.
It Pays to Hire a Qualified HVAC Contractor
Contact a licensed HVAC contractor to schedule service, maintenance, or repair. If you have an annual maintenance agreement, make sure you call and schedule your annual appointment. This may seem unnecessary if you have a newer system that has never had any problems, but regular maintenance is the best way to ensure that your unit runs at its best for as long as possible. The contractor will check the system components inside and outside, clean them, check refrigerants, check your gas or electricity supply, and more.
If you think your HVAC system needs extensive service or repair, you should consider getting estimates from two or three HVAC contractors before deciding which one most suits your needs.
Whatever you need, work with a reputable, licensed HVAC contractor.