Installing a heat pump is an excellent way to save on your heating bills, and provincial and federal governments often offer incentives and rebates to encourage homeowners to choose this energy efficient HVAC option.
The province of New Brunswick is no different, and recently NB Power announced a $500 heat pump rebate for homeowners who install mini-split heat pumps. Unfortunately, whenever government incentives are available, unscrupulous companies often try to take advantage. Industry experts call them ‘fly by night’ installers, and they’ve been wreaking havoc on homeowners in New Brunswick by performing poor quality installations and not providing after sales service.
In the past year, the Better Business Bureau for the Atlantic Provinces received over 13,000 complaints about mini-split heat pumps and the companies who sell them. Homeowners have been complaining about a variety of issues including:
- Low-quality heat pump installation practices that result in higher electricity bills, insufficient heating, and mechanical failure.
- A lack of after-sales service leaving homeowners in the cold until they can find another company to service their machines.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a victim of these unscrupulous installers. You just need to do your due diligence before choosing an HVAC company. Due diligence is an important step no matter what type of heat pump you choose. To help you weed out the bad apples, we’ve created a list of six questions that you should ask the HVAC company you are considering for your heat pump installation. A reputable company should be able to answer these questions without hesitation.
Question 1: Is your business Canadian GeoExchange Coalition certified?
This issue only applies if you are considering installing a geothermal heat pump. The Canadian Geoexchange Coalition offers certification courses for geothermal heat pump installers. This certification is not a legal requirement, but it’s the industry standard. If the company you are interviewing is a reputable one, they will either be certified or will have a staff member who is. You can verify their certification by using the search tool on the CGC website.
Question 2: Does your company have a licensed HVAC technician with an Ozone Depleting Substances Permit?
If you are planning on installing a heat pump in your home, the installer will have to handle refrigerant, and that means they need to be a licensed technician and be licensed to handle refrigerants. The company should be able to produce the certificates at your request.
Question 3: Does your business use a licensed electrician to hook the machine up?
For geothermal, air source and mini-split heat pumps, a licensed electrician needs to be on site to hook up the heat pump. Most companies will either have an electrician on their staff or will subcontract the work. If the business you are interviewing contracts the electrical work out, you’ll need to do your due diligence with that company as well.
Question 4: Does your company offer a warranty?
While most geothermal heat pump manufacturers (including us) offer a warranty on their heat pumps, it usually only covers the cost of the parts that fail, but not the labour of the service company performing the repairs. Your installer should offer a labour warranty to supplement the manufacturer warranty. Some companies even offer satisfaction guarantees and lemon clauses. Make sure to ask if the company you are interviewing provides any of these options.
Question 5: How many installations has your company performed and how long has the company been in business?
When choosing to upgrade your HVAC system, you should give preference to an experienced installer. You should ask them how long they’ve been in business and how many installations they’ve done. Each technology has unique characteristics, and you should hire a company with experience in the type of heat pump you are considering installing. If you are considering upgrading to a geothermal heat pump, make sure to ask them how many geothermal heat pump installations they’ve done.
Question 6: Can you provide references?
An experienced company will be able to provide you with references, without hesitation. Once you have them, check them! Call the homeowners on the list and ask if they are happy with their heat pump and the after sales service.
A Note on Installation Cost
We recommend you obtain at least three quotes for any home renovation project, and installing a heat pump (whether geothermal, air source or mini-split) is no different. For each company, ask for a detailed itemized quote, and don’t automatically choose the cheapest one. Often fly by night installers will undercut their competition and deliver a sub-par product. So if you have three quotes, and one is significantly cheaper, that may be a red flag about the qualify of that company’s workmanship.
Interested in learning more about how geothermal can help you save up to 75% on your heating bills? Download our Ebook: Geothermal Energy: Consistent, Comfortable, and Cost Effective Heating and Cooling for Your Home.