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Old 09-19-2008, 09:12 AM   #1
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Big HVAC Guy vs Small HVAC Guy

I'm in the process of getting quotes for a new AC/gas furnace sytem. Thus far I have two quotes -- both contractors appear competent and are quoting good equipment (one Carrier the other Trane). The quotes were roughly the same except the small contractor gave me a more efficient system for the same price. My concern is that the small contractor, although competent, may not be around in a couple of years. The large contractor is pricier but has been around awhile.

Is it safer sticking with the larger contractor who can back up the work (and probably pays a hefty commission to his sales staff), or saving the money up front with the small guy? Does it really matter since ultimately the warranty comes from the manufacturer?

Thanks for your thoughts!!


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Old 09-19-2008, 10:08 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by flysndoc View Post
Is it safer sticking with the larger contractor who can back up the work (and probably pays a hefty commission to his sales staff), or saving the money up front with the small guy? Does it really matter since ultimately the warranty comes from the manufacturer?

Thanks for your thoughts!!

Carrier and Trane are both big names, you can check, but I bet they both have multiple authorized dealers in your area that you could go to if the installed is gone or unavailable. Assuming there are other dealer available then repairs should be of no concern.

I would strongly suggest you ask for 1 or 2 references and call them! This will tell you everything you need to know, ask about the quality, timeliness, professionalism, etc.



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Old 09-19-2008, 08:42 PM   #3
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I agree with Jamie....go with the one you trust and who is able to provide reliable references. I've seen both big and small companies do hack work.....and in the end, it is true....the homeowner will pay for any labor regardless of the manufacturers warranty (usually parts only, unless you purchase the labor added warranty as well). Stay on top of them and ask alot of questions..your gut will tell ya who to choose.
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Old 09-19-2008, 09:16 PM   #4
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I always recommend going with the guy with the smaller ad in the phonebook, and the less-fancy trucks. Many of the big guys that you always see around town employ technicians that are pretty inexperienced. Personally, I prefer the guy that has been in the business for years and has HIS OWN name on the side of the truck, even though his buttcrack may show a little.

I know this is a huge generalization, but the quality of work I see from the big fancy "24-7/365" guys in fancy trucks is not normally as good as the average guy that has his own company.

Honestly, they're not going to warranty much of anything that will go wrong years down the road. The manufacturer will warrant the equipment for a certain time period, and that is what is going to fail, not the installation.

Another thing to consider. The code requires that a permit be issued for replacement of AC and heating equipment, and an inspection must be done. There are many electrical things that can cause major problems with an AC unit if not done correctly, not to mention the issues an improperly installed gas or propane furnace can cause (death, for one). A permit and an inspection is an added measure of safety, because the inspector can advocate for you if the contractor does something unsafe or incorrect. If the contractor doesn't want to pull a permit, there's a reason. Run like hell.
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Old 09-20-2008, 11:06 AM   #5
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Around here, most of the big outfits concentrate on commercial work. They do residential only to make a quick buck, and to train new guys. They usually have several crews on any given installation. One crew will install the ducts, another will set the furnace, yet another will do the refrigeration. This sounds like a good idea, and on a huge commercial job it is, because each crew has a speciality and they're good at it. But because a residential job is small, and no two crews will be there at the same time, the duct guys will hurry and get it done, and will not care what kind of a mess they leave for the furnace guys, and so on.

The smaller outfits, especially if it's a family business, will usually take a bit more time and do a better installation. Most of the time, the same guys do every part of the installation, so they tend to plan ahead.

I've generally had better luck with smaller outfits on smaller jobs.

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