Winter has officially arrived in the Chicagoland area, meaning several months of snow flurries, chilly days, and freezing nights. While shoveling driveways can be a bother, there’s nothing better than curling up inside a cozy home, drinking hot cocoa, and watching the snow sprinkle down outside.

However, snow days aren’t quite as cozy when you come home on a cold day to discover your heat isn’t working!

Although many homes are equipped with quality HVAC systems, breakdowns can still occur. Whether your furnace needs a simple repair or a full replacement, it can be a stressful inconvenience to face during the winter season.  It can also be intimidating to know where to look when searching for an emergency HVAC repair service.  Here are a few simple steps you can take to have your home warm again as soon as possible.

Although many Chicagoland homes are equipped with quality HVAC systems, heating breakdowns can still occur. Whether your furnace needs a simple repair or a full replacement, it can be a stressful inconvenience to face during the winter season.  It can also be intimidating to know where to look when searching for an emergency HVAC repair service.  Here are a few simple steps you can take to have your home warm again as soon as possible.

Don’t Try to Fix Your Furnace Yourself

First—and most importantly—don’t try to fix your HVAC system yourself.  Unless the solution is simple, such as replacing the batteries in your thermostat, it’s best to leave HVAC repair to the professionals. Trying to DIY a furnace repair can be dangerous and might cause further damage to your heating system.

HVAC professionals are trained on how to repair and replace systems while dealing with the risks of electrical shock, combustion, and carbon monoxide poisoning. They also know how to identify and resolve problems without creating additional issues along the way.

Trying to repair your HVAC system by yourself could also void its warranty, which means that future repairs or replacements may not be covered. Overall, DIY furnace repair is not worth the risk it can present to your family nor is it worth the cost in the long term.

Do Your Research Before Hiring a Heating Contractor

Not all HVAC technicians have the same training and knowledge. For the same reasons you shouldn’t DIY your furnace repair, you also shouldn’t hire an untrained contractor. Though it may seem like a nice way to support your friend Billy’s side business, hiring an untrained technician can be dangerous to your family and may cost more in the long run.

A qualified technician will know how to test for carbon monoxide leaks in your heating system, even if the heat exchanger does not appear cracked. They will know how to calibrate a replacement gas valve to avoid driving up your monthly heating bills; how to clean the blower blades without throwing them off balance; how to dust the hot surface igniter without breaking it.

In the case of installation, a qualified HVAC contractor will know how to perform a Manual J load calculation to determine what size heating system will provide the right level of comfort for your home. An untrained professional could sell you an undersized or over-sized unit, which could lead to future problems and costly repairs.

At Four Seasons Heating, Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electric, we know the importance of having trained and qualified HVAC professionals. In addition to background checks and drug tests, our technicians are required to complete at least 160 hours of training in our 2,000 square foot training facility followed by a year of shadowing a Lead Installer. They also complete written and in-field testing on all service topics, including furnace repair and replacement. 

While your friend Billy may have a passion for HVAC repair, reconsider hiring him for the job if he doesn’t have the proper training.

Ask the Right Questions Before Making Your Decision

Ask the Right Questions Before Making Your Decision

To help distinguish qualified technicians from unqualified ones, here are a few questions you can (and should) ask before giving them the job.

  1. Are you properly licensed and insured?
    While Illinois, and subsequently Chicago, do not require HVAC technicians to be licensed, a licensed contractor is more likely to be a quality service provider. It’s also important to know that your contractor has an insurance provider he or she works with in the case of mistakes or injury.

  2. What’s your policy on warranties and refunds?
    Hiring a contractor that doesn’t understand the warranty of your heating system can lead to future hassles. It’s important in the long run to work with a contractor that knows what needs to be done in order for you to stay within the terms of your warranty. In the short term, it’s useful to hire technicians that have clear and honest refund policies. Reputable companies are more likely to work with you should the repair not be to your satisfaction.

  3. Do you have experience with my unit’s issue?Nobody would hire an oral surgeon for a heart transplant. In the same sense, you shouldn’t hire an HVAC technician that doesn’t have experience fixing what you need fixed.

  4. Do you subcontract any of your repairs out?
    Companies sometimes claim to be fully licensed and bonded but utilize subcontractors that don’t have these qualifications. To ensure you are getting the quality service you deserve for your home, it’s best to choose companies that don’t subcontract any of their work.

  5. How quickly can you repair or replace my heating system?
    On a cold Winter day or night, you shouldn’t have to wait any longer than necessary to get your heating system fixed or replaced.  In the case of emergency repairs or replacements, make sure to find a company that is willing to provide you quality service when you actually need it. 

We know the above questions are all important to customers at Four Seasons Heating, Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electric, so we have dedicated ourselves to making sure our products and services come with industry-leading guarantees. If you experience any furnace malfunctions or breakdowns this winter, put your home in the hands of a company you can trust.