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By Colin Martodam

September 14, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--It’s inevitable. At some point, everyone needs to call a heating and air conditioning company for maintenance, repairs and/or replacements.

Before getting any work done by an HVAC company – or any contractor for that matter – follow these 10 simple steps to ensure you’re hiring a trusted and qualified contractor.

• Avoid contractors offering door-to-door home improvement services. Instead, seek out companies with longevity; they’re still in business for a reason.

• Before you accept any work, check references and seek referrals from your neighbors.

• Ask for the contractor’s license number and verify that number on the California State license board website (www.cslb.ca.gov) to make sure it’s both valid and current.

• Ask about worker’s compensation and business liability insurance; every company should carry full coverage for its employees.

• To guarantee you are receiving the best service, take the time to research companies and ask for estimates on your work before accepting an offer.

• Be sure you fully understand any estimates you receive. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

• Get everything in writing, from the cost estimate to the project timeline.

• Before the contractor begins work, make sure he or she obtains any necessary permits for the work.

• Ask the contractor about service guarantees. The contractor should always make it right, every time, with no additional charges.

• Ask about special military or senior discounts, if they apply.

There are a lot of great companies out there performing quality services for customers. Taking a few extra steps to make sure you find a trusted HVAC contractor will save you time, money and put your mind at ease knowing you’re receiving the best service for your dollar.

Colin Martodam is general manager of ARS, a heating and air conditioning company for residences. For more tips or to make an appointment for your HVAC maintenance or service needs, visit www.arssandiego.com