In this guide, we’re going to look at some of the basics of HVAC companies, including the differences between HVAC contractors, HVAC companies, and HVAC installation services. We’ll also highlight the two main areas of HVAC work that most people are concerned with – heating and cooling systems, both from an installation standpoint and from a maintenance and repair standpoint. We’ll briefly touch on the differences between residential and commercial HVAC companies. Then, we’ll close by providing you with some guidance on how to choose the right HVAC company, HVAC contractor, or HVAC installation service for your needs.
HVAC CONTRACTORS, HVAC COMPANIES, AND HVAC INSTALLATION SERVICES – DIFFERENCES
First, it’s instructive to look at the differences between HVAC contractors, HVAC companies, and HVAC installation services. These three names are often used interchangeably by some but are more appropriately broken down into three key areas or specialties. Specifically, HVAC contractors and HVAC companies are mostly similar. Both are typically full-service providers, meaning they handle planning, installation, maintenance, and repair. In general parlance, though, HVAC contractors are more often associated with building projects and commercial/industrial settings, whereas HVAC companies can be consumer-focused or commercial/industrial. That, of course, is not a hard rule, however, and there is often a lot of overlap.
At the same time, HVAC installation services quite plainly wear their primary specialty on their sleeve – the installation of HVAC systems. They may or may not provide HVAC maintenance and repair service. They also may or may not handle the planning and design phase of ventilation systems. It can vary considerably by the HVAC company. As always, it’s best to check the capabilities and services listed on the website of any potential HVAC contractor, HVAC company, or HVAC installation service you consider hiring before arranging an appointment.
HVAC CONTRACTORS, HVAC COMPANIES, AND HVAC INSTALLATION SERVICES – HEATING AND COOLING SYSTEM INSTALLATION
One of the two principal activities of HVAC contractors, HVAC companies, and the primary domain of HVAC installation services, is the installation of heating and cooling systems. For our purposes, this includes all the activities related to the design, planning, and implementation of HVAC systems in homes, offices, or industrial settings. In the case of residential consumers, that can mean the installation of a new heater or air conditioning system in a home. For a newly built structure or a structure under construction, that can include selecting the appropriate kind of HVAC system, figuring out ducting pathways and airflow requirements, and so on. It varies based on the project or work area of the HVAC contractor, HVAC company, or HVAC installation service in question.
In general, however, these service providers often have all the training and expertise needed to plan, design, and install the HVAC systems. Many – especially full-service HVAC companies or HVAC installation services – may also stock and sell the primary components of these systems themselves. It’s not unusual for HVAC companies to sell several brands or lines of heating and cooling systems, and often have those systems in stock for same-day installation (at least in the case of residential customers).
Their skillsets draw on engineering, electrical, plumbing, and related disciplines, since all those systems often work together for home and commercial heating, ventilation, and cooling. Some HVAC contractors or HVAC companies may only specialize in specific systems types, such as only working with forced-air heaters that are electric or natural-gas-powered. Others may be experienced and work on boilers, baseboard heater systems, and various and exotic fuel types like biomass. The same is correct when it comes to the kind of cooling systems and installations that these HVAC companies may undertake. But the bottom line is when you need a heating or cooling system designed or installed, HVAC contractors, HVAC companies, or HVAC installation services are the right place to turn.
HVAC CONTRACTORS, HVAC COMPANIES, AND HVAC INSTALLATION SERVICES – REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
In addition to their planning, design, and installation duties, many HVAC contractors, HVAC companies, and HVAC installation services providers also perform HVAC repair and maintenance tasks. Regular maintenance and preventative maintenance can help ensure maximum performance of HVAC systems, and help owners to get the maximum work-life out of these expensive appliances and systems. As HVAC companies have all the skills and equipment to install these systems, it only makes logical sense that many of them diagnose and repair issues with them as well.
In the event of a repair or maintenance issue, most HVAC contractors and HVAC companies can offer replacements of faulty or end-of-life components of the system, and even install new primary components, often the same day. That is especially true when, as mentioned earlier, these HVAC companies stock and sell the main system components direct to their customers in addition to their HVAC installation and repair services. After all, most people don’t shop for a heater or cooling system as a luxury – it’s a necessity, and they only think about it when something broken or not working and need a new one. In those cases, HVAC contractors, HVAC companies, and HVAC installation services can be your “best friend”!
HVAC CONTRACTORS, HVAC COMPANIES, AND HVAC INSTALLATION SERVICES – RESIDENTIAL VS. COMMERCIAL HVAC SERVICES
HVAC contractors, HVAC companies, and HVAC installation services often specialize in either residential or commercial/industrial systems. Many HVAC companies service both residential and commercial (office-style) customers. However, in many cases, the HVAC systems, while working on the same principles, are so vastly different in size and scope, that it can require different skill sets, expertise, and equipment for commercial systems. Therefore, many HVAC companies that consumers deal with tend to stick to primarily residential and small business commercial customers at most. Large offices, skyscrapers, warehouses, industrial settings, and similar often have their own specialized HVAC companies, HVAC contractors, or HVAC installation services.
HVAC CONTRACTORS, HVAC COMPANIES, AND HVAC INSTALLATION SERVICES – CHOOSING THE RIGHT HVAC INSTALLATION SERVICES PROVIDER
Now when you know a bit more about HVAC contractors, HVAC companies, and HVAC installation services, you are much better prepared to choose an HVAC installation services provider for your HVAC project or service needs. Often, people pick a name based on search results. But it’s worth taking a little time and doing some research so that you know the work will be done correctly at a fair price. To that end, we offer up the following key categories that you should consider when evaluating any HVAC contractor, HVAC company, or HVAC installation service.
- Services – what HVAC services exactly do they offer? Are they a full HVAC service company, handling HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair, or only HVAC installation? Do they sell HVAC systems themselves, or only handle installation or repair services? Are they affiliated with any dealers or brands of HVAC equipment?
- Reputation – does the HVAC installation services company have a good reputation? How are reviews from customers?
- Experience – how long have they work in the HVAC service business? How many HVAC service jobs have they completed?
- Licenses and Certifications – are they bonded/licensed by the manufacturer and municipality where they work? Do they belong to any professional associations or guilds?
- Safety – do they place a high priority on safety? Do they ensure the HVAC installation worksite is secure and safe for their personal and your family?
- Professionalism – do they return customer calls? Are they polite and courteous? Do they answer questions clearly and completely?
- Time and Cost – how long do HVAC service providers estimate the HVAC installation job will take them to complete it? What is the HVAC installation cost estimate? How does this compare to other HVAC installation services companies?
Central Heating System Installation
If you live anywhere in the world where the temperature drops below 50°F as the daytime high at any time of the year, it’s very likely your home or office has some form of a heating system. Home and office heating (along with the later development of air conditioning) are one of the first modern conveniences that have allowed humanity to thrive, work, and live comfortably year-round in cold climates. Of course, there are many various types of home and office heating devices, with different fuels, heat capacities, life spans, and associated details. In most cases, however, fixed heating systems for the home or office must be installed by professionals, such as heating boiler installation services and central heating system installation services.
These pros are trained and knowledgeable about tasks associated with the heating equipment installation process. Depending on the type of heating system chosen for the home, that can include electrical, plumbing, natural gas, and mechanical engineering expertise, along with general construction/contractor type skill sets. Many heating boiler installation services and central heating system installation services do not necessarily limit their options for products and services offered to a single type of boilers or fuel. Therefore, they are often knowledgeable in the whole range of HVAC solutions for homes and offices and can help consumers to choose the best choice for their needs.
In our guide, below, we’ll cover some of the basics about heating boiler installation services and central heating system installation services, such as the differences between these two types of companies, considerations on fuel and boiler types for consumers, and the heating installation process and associated tasks.
HEATING BOILER INSTALLATION SERVICES AND CENTRAL HEATING SYSTEM INSTALLATION SERVICES – DIFFERENCES
The terms heating boiler installation services and central heating system installation services have different meanings. In practical terms, heating boiler installation services are mainly focused on boiler-type heating systems and their installation into homes. Central heating system installation services, on the other hand, may encompass boilers, but also gas and electric-fired forced-air furnaces and other central heating equipment and elements. In most cases, however, neither of these terms may be used for companies that perform these services. Far more typically, they simply refer to themselves as heating and cooling companies, or HVAC companies, and offer the full range of services associated with all types of heating and cooling systems.
When in doubt about whether a company handles the kinds of equipment or type of system(s) you are looking to have installed in your home, the best place to look is at the company’s website (or give them a call). Usually, this will list the specialties or heating and cooling system types that the central heating system installation provider typically handles. The different heater types that heating boiler installation services and central heating system installation services may offer are described in the next section.
HEATING BOILER INSTALLATION SERVICES AND CENTRAL HEATING SYSTEM INSTALLATION SERVICES – FUEL AND HEATER TYPE CONSIDERATIONS
There are various types of heating systems and different fuel type heating equipment for each of these systems. Any type of heating system has its pros and cons depending upon the environment, climate, home or business type, layout, size, and heating needs of the consumer. The central division is between boiler-type systems and furnace-type heating systems (at least regarding central heating systems – there are plenty of more specific divisions in portable or room heater systems).
The main difference between a boiler and furnace-style heating system is that furnace systems distribute hot air, while boiler systems distribute hot liquid or steam. A furnace uses a fan and heating mechanism (typically natural gas, oil, or electric) that feeds into a heat exchanger. The air blowing from the fan over the heat exchanger circulates through the duct and vent work in a home or office to the various rooms and areas. A boiler, on the other hand, uses fuel to heat water in a closed heating system, then the heat energy is distributed throughout the home or office in the form of circulating hot water or circulating steam. Various heating fixtures such as radiators, baseboard heaters, integrated flooring heating coils, and similar give back the heat energy from the system to the room air. Different types of fuels may be used including electric, natural gas, oil, wood, biofuels, etc.
These fundamental differences mean there are pros and cons to both heating furnaces and heating boilers. Experts from heating boiler installation services, if specified as such, will be concerned with heating boilers, whereas central heating system installation services may offer a broader range of options, including heating boilers and furnaces alike. Regardless of which kind of company you choose, or if they are a multi-purpose HVAC company offering all services, the pros and cons of these different types of heating devices include:
- Heating boiler systems usually are not used for cooling, but only for heating. That means that separate ducting and system setups needed for the air conditioning system.
- Heating furnace systems blow air around the home, which is advantageous for cooling but can make feel drafty when heating. It is in opposition to a boiler, which provides steady, radiant heat without moving a lot of forced air.
- Heating furnaces can blow a lot of dust and allergens around the home or office, due to the volume of air they are moving. That can, of course, be offset somewhat with proper filtering systems, which can also improve overall indoor air quality. Boiler heating systems usually don’t move air, so they don’t move dust or allergens, either, but also play no role in improving air quality.
- Heating boilers tend to need less-frequent maintenance or tune-up services than heating furnaces, as they have fewer moving parts. On the other hand, a leaking boiler or leaky heating pipes can cause a lot of damage, whereas leaking ducts simply cut into heating efficiency.
HEATING BOILER INSTALLATION SERVICES AND CENTRAL HEATING SYSTEM INSTALLATION SERVICES – INSTALLATION PREP AND PROCESS
Whether you choose a heating boiler or furnace, the appropriate heating boiler installation services or central heating system installation services providers will generally follow a mostly similar process of home preparation and heating installation. If this is the first heating system to be installed in a home, these steps are usually done in concert with the home builder, before finishing walls and floors. Otherwise, the choice of what kind of heating system to install may be dictated by existing home parameters – if you already have ducts, it makes the most sense to go with a furnace, and if you already have steam pipes or hot water heating pipes, to go with the relevant type of heating boiler. Otherwise, you will need much more considerable prep work and renovations to install the necessary heating distribution systems in the home.
Our below prep and central heating installation process overview assumes that existing appropriate matching distribution systems for the chosen heating boiler or furnace are already present in the house.
- If there is an existing system, the heating boiler installation services or central heating system installation services company will drain, unhook, unplug, and remove the furnace or heating boiler from home.
- Next, there may be some cleaning and maintenance work on existing distribution systems, such as flushing pipes, inspecting for leaks, patching or re-insulating ductwork, and similar throughout the home.
- Once the distribution system is shored up, and in good working order, the installation of the new heating boiler or furnace can begin.
- The area of installation is prepared, with adjustments being made to outlets, fuel pipes, and distribution systems as necessary to fit the different location(s) of the new heating furnace or boiler model’s input and output ports. If dimensions are wildly different than the previous heating furnace or boiler, then heating boiler installation services or central heating system installation services may need to do some necessary general contracting work to expand or adjust the location of the heating unit. If this is not possible, those same dimensional considerations may play a role in choosing the heating boiler or furnace in the first place.
- Once the heating boiler or furnace can be fit in place, the relevant systems are attached sequentially according to the order established for that type of system. At each stage, technicians test to ensure fuel lines, water lines (if applicable), internal electronics and mechanics, and output lines or ducts are working as intended.
- After the entire heating system is confirmed to be working and installation complete, most heating boiler installation services and central heating system installation services will briefly monitor the distribution points – either vents in the case of furnaces, or the radiators, baseboard heaters, and similar in the case of heating boilers. They will check temperatures and ensure that the unit is responding to changes in the thermostat, and providing the expected amount of hot air, steam, or hot water flow.