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What Do HVAC Contractors Do? (2024 Guide)

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Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 06/28/2024

 An HVAC—or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning—is an important system that regulates your home’s temperature by moving heated and cooled air throughout it. At some point, you may need to hire an HVAC contractor for repairs or a system checkup. An HVAC contractor is a skilled and licensed technician who installs, maintains, and repairs these systems.

Read our guide to learn more about what an HVAC contractor is and when you should call one.

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HVAC units next to a home
HVAC Installation

Installation costs for common air conditioning units range from $500–$2,500.

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HVAC Repair

Depending on the repair, the typical cost ranges from $100–$2,000.

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Furnace Installation

Installing an electric furnace will typically cost $1,600–$9,700.

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What Does an HVAC Contractor Do?

HVAC companies service different heating and cooling systems in residential and commercial buildings. Below are the three most commonly performed services.

HVAC System Installation

Before installing a new heating and cooling system, an HVAC contractor will inspect and measure the current system to determine your home’s correct size and capacity. Next, the old system is carefully removed and replaced with the new system. If necessary, the technician will update or install ductwork, wiring, pipes, electrical supply lines, and a final inspection to ensure proper installation.

HVAC System Maintenance

HVAC maintenance is the process of regularly inspecting (and cleaning) your heating and cooling units and ventilation system. Preventative maintenance keeps your system up and running and ensures it’s running at peak energy efficiency. Additionally, it can improve your home’s air quality. 

HVAC contractors inspect for leakage, check refrigerant, test thermostats, and change filters during routine maintenance. Your contractor may also clean your systems and ductwork or repair and replace some components.

HVAC System Repairs

Did you hear a clunking sound from your air conditioner, or did your HVAC contractor find something during a preseason checkup? You may need an HVAC repair.

A repair can involve fixing or replacing parts to get your system up and running or troubleshooting the issue until the system functions properly. Most repairs are an emergency and require immediate attention, particularly during the cold winter or scorching summer months. Homeowners typically don’t realize a problem until it’s too late.

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When Should You Call an HVAC Contractor?

You may need an HVAC contractor for several reasons, whether it’s routine maintenance or a problem with your heating or cooling. Other examples include your furnaceheat pump, or air conditioning unit issues. 

  • Temperature issues: A furnace blowing cold air instead of hot, or big variations in temperature from one room to the next, are telling signs that it’s time to call a technician. Temperature inconsistencies could point to an issue with your ductwork or your thermostat’s sensor.
  • Your system is frequently running: It’s normal to have air conditioning running for long periods on hot summer days. What’s not normal is for it to kick on constantly every day and night due to restricted airflow from dirty filters, coils, or air ducts.
  • Bad smell: Does your home smell musty, or do you notice a burning odor when your HVAC unit starts? Your HVAC could need cleaning, or it may be an electrical issue or fan motor problem.
  • Poor airflow: Low airflow can cause your unit to struggle to keep up. This can be a minor issue, such as cleaning the ducts or replacing the air filter, or it can involve the compressor, which is a little more complicated.
  • Strange noises: Not every sound is a cause for alarm, but there are several that one shouldn’t ignore. Rattling can mean something is loose in the motor or blower while hissing can be a refrigerant line or a valve leak.
  • High energy bill: Energy bills fluctuate, but anything unusual can be more than seasonal spikes. Higher-than-average energy bills indicate anything from a faulty thermostat to clogged filters or a refrigerant leak.
  • Routine maintenance: Heating and cooling systems are complex. One loose bolt can cause an array of problems. Instead of waiting for something to break down, we recommend having your HVAC contractor perform annual preseason maintenance services for the cooling system in spring and the heating system in fall.

How To Hire a Professional

It is best to hire an HVAC professional and agree to the expense of an HVAC installation, repair, or maintenance on your furnace, heat pump, or air conditioning system. Though some HVAC-related projects are do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, most require a professional’s skill and experience. 

There are multiple resources to find an HVAC pro. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) has an online database of HVAC professionals, and you can search for contractors in your area. Seek out recommendations from family and friends who have used local HVAC contractors. Read local contractors’ online reviews and research whether the business is accredited through the Better Business Bureau.

Another consideration is how long the contractor has been working in the field and whether they offer the services you seek. Some HVAC contractors specialize in specific equipment, such as hydronic systems, which may require skills different from those of forced air systems.
Once you have a list of potential candidates, schedule a meeting and ask questions about their experience, credentials, and qualifications. These should include questions such as the following:

Are you insured and bonded in this state?

Are your rates fixed or hourly?

Are your technicians fully trained and experienced with my system?

Can you provide references?

Do you haul away old equipment?

Do you offer financing?

What are the payment terms?

What are your HVAC certifications?

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Our Conclusion

HVAC contractors are skilled and licensed technicians who work with heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. Whether you need HVAC maintenance or require installation or repair, finding the best HVAC contractor requires due diligence.

Be sure to research local HVAC contractors who perform the services you require before hiring one. Read online reviews or ask for recommendations to help guide your decision. Also, ensure the contractor meets licensing requirements. Above all else, don’t hesitate to ask your potential contractor any important questions regarding your HVAC project.

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FAQ About HVAC Contractors

What does HVAC stand for?

HVAC, or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, refers to systems that regulate the temperature in residential and commercial structures by moving heated and cooled air. These systems keep you comfortable and filter the air you breathe to keep your indoor air clean.

Is HVAC part of construction?

HVAC falls under the umbrella of construction. However, there are key differences between HVAC services and construction or other home repair businesses.

What do HVAC contractors do?

An HVAC contractor is a service-based business with skilled and certified HVAC technicians. These professionals maintain, repair, and install heating and cooling systems in residential and commercial buildings.

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