It’s time to check the furnace


By John North - Contributing columnist



This time of year is when many homeowners have their furnaces checked and/or replaced by a heating professional. Before you know it, temperatures will dip and it will be time to crank up the heat. When looking for a trustworthy heating expert, let the Better Business Bureau help in your decision.

Fall is a great time to have your annual furnace inspection. Heating contractors will look for air leaks, measure air flow and inspect your insulation to make sure all components meet HVAC guidelines and the manufacturer’s specifications. Having a certified technician look at your furnace will help make sure it runs more efficiently and could save money in the long run by finding minor problems before they become serious ones.

Over the last year, heating contractors ranked in the BBB’s top 10 most inquired-about industries with almost 2 million inquiries nationally. In addition, more than 3,400 complaints were made to BBBs across North America about heating contractors. Locally, BBB received more than 35,000 inquiries about this industry.

When looking to hire a reputable heating professional, BBB suggests you:

• Consider a company’s reputation and years of service.

• Shop around and get at least three quotes. Don’t settle for the lowest bid. Be wary of contractors’ giving you bids or estimates over the phone.

• Check with family and friends. If they’re happy with companies they used, most likely you’ll be too.

• Ask heating contractors for references and call them.

• Visit home shows. These are a great opportunity to meet contractors face-to-face.

• Avoid high-pressure salespeople.

• Ask if the heating contractor belongs to any professional organizations like the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC). Look for the PHCC logo and BBB seal on Web sites.

• Make sure the company is licensed, bonded and insured as appropriate and determine if it will pull required permits.

• Ask if 24-hour emergency service is offered.

• Get a written contract detailing the work to be completed. Don’t sign anything until all blanks are completed. And, make sure warranties and guarantees are included.

• Never pay in full up front. Legitimate, trustworthy companies won’t do business that way.

• Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to inquire about something if you don’t understand.

Remember, a heating and cooling system is one of the largest purchases you’ll make as a homeowner. Keep your costs down by checking around for available rebates on energy-efficient Energy Star-qualified equipment. Begin your search at www.energystar.gov.

If you have any questions regarding heating contractors, get help from your BBB, such as a list of BBB-accredited heating contractors and business profiles on ones you’re considering. Visit www.bbb.org or call 800-776-5301.

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By John North

Contributing columnist

The writer is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Dayton.

The writer is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Dayton.