We were recently called by a client who was at her wits end with her furnace. She had purchased the furnace through a big box store, and instead of calling a professional HVAC company, she had decided on hiring a handyman to install it.
Unfortunately, the small handyman shop she hired (a two-person operation) wasn’t fully equipped to handle the latest in advanced furnace technology.
Since we’re focused on HVAC only, our technicians are highly trained on the latest techniques and proper installation processes (which are continually evolving). In her case, the handyman she’d hired hadn’t pitched the furnace correctly.
After several service calls, the handymen simply stopped responding. They didn’t know how to handle the issue and decided it was easier to ignore. By the time we arrived, the damage was done, and we had to replace her seven-year-old furnace.
Don’t Be Penny Wise and Pound Foolish
Many homeowners are fooled into thinking furnace installation is a DIY project. It’s understandable if you visit any big-box retailer. You’ll see furnace options right there next to the fridges, toaster ovens, and washing machines. This gives the illusion a furnace is ready to “plug and play.”
Unfortunately, HVAC is a much more complex installation.
HVAC equipment is highly technical. Your installer must size the equipment correctly. During the setup and installation of the equipment, he or she must ensure proper pitch. They will need to adjust the blowers properly, ensure the temperature rise is correct, and make sure the system “breathes.” The metal can otherwise overheat, the technology may burn out, and you’re left with a costly problem.
With HVAC equipment, issues are often like high cholesterol in a human. You may feel asymptomatic until the health issue has spiraled out of control, your arteries are clogged, and you’re having chest pains. Similarly, many furnace installation issues creep up undetected until it’s too late.
What most customers don’t realize is that big-box retailers want to cut professional HVAC companies out and insert themselves into the market chain. These retailers often buy the equipment in bulk with zero warranty. They receive a deep discount for these bulk purchases.
Once the furnace equipment is in the store, they slap their own warranty on it (with plenty of fine print), hedging their bets that you won’t cross your T’s and dot your I’s when you hire a handyman to do the installation. Some retailers subcontract with these 1-2 men shops who overcharge you for the installation, never to be heard from again.
Compounding this expensive problem is “special financing” offered by the big box shops. They convince you to use their financing program (which doesn’t include service). You may think you’re getting a reasonable price today, but you’re certainly not getting a good value for tomorrow.
Choosing a Brand for the Wrong Reasons
What often ends up happening is that when the poorly-installed furnace fails, the customer blames the failure on the equipment, thinking they got a lemon. In reality, the problem is almost always with the installation. Four different installers can put in the same piece of equipment, and it will operate four different ways.
An informed installation is especially necessary for today’s more technologically advanced HVAC setups. Coordinating digital programming and technology with your home’s HVAC system is a job for an expert.
Big box stores may seem like a convenient option for now, but the price you pay in the long run is almost always much higher. The supply chain works in favor of the retailer (not the customer), and many buyers are wooed by spiffs and special offers, not motivated by brand quality or loyalty. They aren’t offering you the best brand based on performance.
Before you hire a handyman or subcontractor, ask why they chose the equipment they’re recommending. For many, it’s because of the convenience of availability and not quality have enticed them. There are superior brands out there, but those brands run on reputation, not volume discounts to retailers and middle-man distributors.
Choose the Right HVAC Company for the Long Run
Many one-man-band (or 1-2 handymen) shops haven’t been on the scene for very long. While the entrepreneurial spirit is admirable, the truth is, highly trained HVAC professionals are in demand. If they were so “well trained” they would work for a professional HVAC company (not doing a handyman gig).
Reputable HVAC companies like 1st Choice Heating and Cooling carefully screen employees and ensure our team members are highly trained on the most up-to-date information. These smaller shops often do many jobs from electric to minor plumbing, to small engine repair, but they aren’t trained in HVAC.
We see many customers like our client above, who hire a handyman, only to get “ghosted” once their problem escalates. Many of these guys don’t have a solid business plan. They can’t offer the support, service, and back-up needed for this high-level equipment.
If you run into an issue with a furnace from 1st Choice, we have a factory-trained crew who are available quickly. We get to your place right away. We have an established background. We’ve seen the industry grow and change, and we’ve stayed on top of those changes.
When you choose a professional HVAC company like 1st Choice, you get the peace of mind that your system is installed correctly. If there’s a problem, we will address it right away, up to and including removing faulty equipment and replacing it. We stand behind our word.
So go ahead and hire a handyman to repair your fridge, your washing machine, or your toaster. When it comes to HVAC, choose a professional who will ensure your installation is right the first time, so you don’t end up paying in the long run.