People decide to purchase new heating or cooling equipment for all different reasons. They may be selling their current home, and the buyer may have asked that the furnace or air conditioner be upgraded as a condition of the sale. It could be that they are building a new house. The existing equipment may be broken beyond repair, or they may be upgrading their heating or cooling system as an investment to reduce utility bills. Choosing a new furnace or new air conditioner can be an intimidating process no matter what your reason. There are nearly a hundred brands, and thousands of models on the market including high-efficiency models, fully, featured models, and budget models. There are also upflow, downflow, and horizontal models. it is difficult for many to make an informed decision and to make matters worse, you can expect to spend anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000 or more by the time you have your new furnace is installed and working.

People commonly make the decision to let someone else handle all of these choices by calling the first contractor in the yellow pages, provided they find a reputable HVAC contractor by their first call. This can make the process easier, although this is not always the case.

Here is an overview of how the HVAC market works, and how you can identify a reputable HVAC contractor.


Upgrading or installing a new furnace requires the help of a fully qualified and licensed HVAC contractor. This is not a do-it-yourself job and here are some typical steps to follow for selecting a contractor:

1 IDENTIFY and contact at least three or more contractors

2 SET UP an appointment with each of them to visit your home to inspect your current furnace, and collect a wide range of information including how many windows your home has and which direction they face, and how thorough the insulation of the home is, etc. The contractor uses this information to calculate the load, or the correct capacity for the furnace that would be installed in the home.

3 RECIEVE a written estimate from each contractor and make sure it breaks out the different charges that the contractor expects to encounter, including how much the furnace itself will cost and how much for labor and any other work that is recommended.

4 BIDS that are submitted could vary from each of the contractors. If a bid that’s submitted dramatically differs from the other bids, ask the contractor to explain the difference. They may have noticed something the other contractors missed.

5 MAKE SURE the contractor is properly licensed and insured, and ensure the warranties are properly spelled out. You may want to have your lawyer look at your contract. Make sure you get what you think you are going to get at the end of the process.

Some HVAC contractors and companies represent only a single brand or furnace manufacturer and this has its advantages and disadvantages. The contractor has most likely gone through some sort of specialized training offered by the manufacturer. You may have some additional leverage, since you may be able to approach the manufacturer with complaints. If you are getting estimates from a contractor who represents only one brand, be sure to get several other estimates from other contractors to make sure their recommendations are equivalent to the same equipment.

Make sure to ask the manufacturer if they will send a technician to solve any problems if your furnace isn’t working properly after it’s installed. Most manufacturers will expect the contractor who installed the furnace to deal with this issue. This is another reason you should choose a contractor carefully. Although, many people have been able to  appeal to the manufacturer for redress of a concern, usually after quite a bit of persistence.

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