Monday, September 26, 2016

Hiring the right contractor

We have all been there before!  You have a home project that needs to be done and you do not have the know how to do it yourself.  So what do you do?  You hire a contractor to do it for you.  But how do you go about finding the right match when it comes to a contractor?  This is the question that has plagued homeowners for years!  It is always a delicate mix of work quality, reputation, personal experience and lets not forget the big thing we all think about COST!  I know some of you are saying I will pay more for quality work.  Really will you?  You might like to think that you will but if you ask yourself contractor A is there work really worth 10% more then contractor B?  Does contractor C really provide better materials and more warranty then contractor D and if so is it worth 20-30% more?  Odds are you can always find a way to negotiate with a contractor to save a little bit of money but keep in mind YOU ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!   Remember cheaper is NOT always equal or better.   There is typically reasons why some contractors are more expensive then others on the same products.  It doesn't matter if you are talking HVAC, plumbing, windows, siding, roofing, remodels etc.  There are things much more important then price to take into consideration when choosing a contractor for your next home project.

1.  Is the contractor licensed with your state or local government in their respective industry?
Most state and local government require contractors no matter what type of work they do to carry a license for the type of work they are preforming.  Having a friend of someone your know come do the work "on the side" is not always legal and if someone has a full time job and does some other kind of work "on the side" you might want to ask yourself why if they are so good at the side work why don't they do it full time?

2.  Is the contractor insured?   This is a big one if the contractor damages your home and is not insured guess who has to file that claim?  That is right you do on your homeowners insurance and guess what there goes your insurance cost.  Also keep in mind some insurance companies won't cover a claim for damage done by an unlicensed contractor.

3.  What type of warranty am I getting?  If a company is offering you a long term labor warranty that they are supporting themselves be cautious if they won't provide you with a letter of warranty then guess what?  If they go out of business there goes your labor warranty with them.  Most manufacturers provide warranties that are pretty standard for their industry so if a contractor says they can provide you a "free" extended warranty on the parts because they have a "better relationship" with the company run the opposite direction as quick as you can.

4.  Are they running a legitimate business?  I understand every company has to start out small and grow but is the contractor your hiring offering professional estimates and are they free, are they working in lettered and marked vehicles and are the people from the company wearing uniforms that are marked with the company name? Do they do background and drug screenings on their employees?   All of this might sound a bit trivial but it is important.  Lots of employees that get upset with their bosses leave and feel like they can do it better and try and start their own company only to find out there is a lot more to running a company then going and doing the work.  That is why companies whom have been operating in the same market for 20 plus years are probably around to stay.  Also remember bigger companies are not always better companies.  There are a lot of small businesses that make up the landscape of our country and a majority of them are great companies that just don't have an ambition to become large.  They want to keep that family approach and feel.

5.  Are you really getting a deal?  If the deal seems too good to be true then it probably is!  Be cautious of the deal that seems to good.  If a contractor is thousands cheaper then their competitors on the same products then the first questions you should ask yourself is why?  Most products have a market value that contractors are not allowed to go below ( these numbers are set by the manufacturer) so if contractor A is $5000 but contractor B is $3000 on the same product you need to ask why?  There are some legit answers but be cautious the last thing you want is to have set a budget of $3000 for a project and then get nickle and dimed  for "unforeseen issues".  I promise there is nothing a project manager or sales person hates more then to go to a customer and tell them the $3000 project they signed to do is going to cost them more money.  I am not saying there are not legit reasons that a project may need to cost more to the customer there are things that can't be seen until work begins but the sales person should be clear about that up front and let you know that if this happens then it might cost more but that they will cross that bridge if it happens.  Trust me when I say there is nothing fun then to tell a customer they owe you more money on a project.

6.  Will the project be completed before a certain date?  Will the contractor be able to meet your required date of completion?  There are times when a project must run longer then expected but you need to be firm with your required completion date.  If the contractor says "we should be able to get it done by then" or " well that is really not enough time but we will make it work"  run screaming the other way from that contractor.  Nine times out of ten they are going to shortcut something to meet your date and that will cost you more in the long run.  You must be firm with them in the beginning about your required completion date, if they can't hit your date of completion then it is probably not a good fit no matter the price.

7. Not all products are created equal.  If a contractor tells you they have a product "just as good as" a product you inquire about then they are not the right fit for you.  Not all products are created equal no matter what the contractor tells you.  Be diligent and do your research while keeping in mind that some research organizations can be paid to get higher quality marks.  I have found the best review you can get is from people you know whom have used the product or contractor.  Remember research your contractor also.

8.  Have a game plan and know what you want going into it.  This not only makes your life easier it also makes the contractors sales staffs life easier.  Keep an open mind if they tell you that a product won't work for your application or maybe look at a better product if they think they can get it to you inside of your budget.

9.  Have a budget in mind.  First off let me say that we live in 2016 not 1950 so be realistic you are not going to get a top of the line hvac system for $3000 because your parents did when they got a new one 25 years ago.  Times change and the cost of goods goes up so set a budget but make life for yourself and the contractor easier and be realistic about your budget.  Remember you get what you pay for and your home is probably the only thing you will buy that will not loose value over the time you own it so don't always go cheapest.

10.  Explore financing.  I know this is not going to be a popular tip but it is a true point.  With more and more people waiting until they can save the money to do a project more of the manufacturers are offering 0% financing for extended terms (24, 36,48 and yes even 60 months).  If you have the required credit then looking into financing is a great option to hang on to your cash.  Be wary though make sure there are not any early payoff penalties and that you don't have to have the loan for a certain amount of time before paying it off.  Also make sure that you can make extra payments each month.  This sometimes will allow you to get higher grade products if you don't have to come up with the extra cash up front and sometimes the manufacturer will offer discounts on the products if you finance also.

Remember that your home is where you raise your family and is the most important purchase you can make in your life time so treat it right and hire quality contractors that do quality work and provide quality service and that sell quality products.

Murphy Company Heating and Cooling
Serving Louisville Kentucky since 1973

Monday, March 24, 2014

Here comes the heat!!

It is that time of year again where we go from 70's one day to 40's the next.  We are all trying to make adjustments to our homes comfort during this time of year and all of us (yes even us in the HVAC industry) are not doing a very good job, mostly because Mother Nature is not making it very easy on us.  If you can just hang in there then you will soon be in the sweltering heat of the summer and wishing for Fall to come around and save us from melting.  As we all sit back and reflect on the crazy winter that we have had and curse all of the snow we all begin to daydream about swimming in the pool, going to the lake and just spending time outdoors.  Then it all hits us that with this snowy wet weather we have had that we have a lot of yard work to do to get everything ready for cookouts and lazy days by the pool.  One thing that does not come to the top of our minds is our air conditioners, but it should!  Remember unless you have a heat pump your a/c has sat out in the snow and cold without running since October and now we are going to one day soon flip a switch and want it to come on and work at peak performance.  It might work just fine but then again it might not!  It is like not using your car for 6 months and leaving it sitting in the cold and snow and never starting it up to let it run and then one day hoping in it and taking off and hoping it gets you were you are going. You would not do this to your car so don't do it to your a/c either.  Having your a/c professionally cleaned and serviced before cooling season (this is usually done from April 14- May 31 depending where in the country you live) can save you potentially thousands of dollars!  I am sure that everyone of us could stand to save money(if not call me and I can take that extra cash off your hands).  Here are some important facts about having your home comfort system serviced regularly:

1.  Regular service can help prevent unexpected and costly service calls.
2.  Regular service can help keep your energy bills lower by up to 37%
3.  Regular service can extend the life of your system by up to 5 years
4.  Regular service can keep your home more comfortable and help prevent uneven heating and cooling(hot and cold spots).
5.  Regular service will give you the peace of mind that everything is safe and running a peak performance!

The biggest question that we get is how much does a maintenance contract cost and if my system is newer (5 years of less) do I really need to have maintenance done?  The answer to the second part of this question is YES!  Unless your system was installed within the last year and you have never had to use it for either heating or cooling then YES regular maintenance is critical to keep your investment operating at its peak potential.  The answer the how does it cost well that depends on your location, type of unit, length of contract, and most importantly the HVAC company you choose.  The main thing to remember is there are most of the time other perks that come with being a maintenance contract customer like service discounts, special promotions for contract customers only, unit replacement discounts etc.  So contact your local HVAC dealer ( if you are in Louisville you better be calling us!) and get signed up for a maintenance membership to help protect your investment, your HVAC system is not an appliance it is the largest source of energy consumption in your home using up to 70% of your monthly energy consumption.  So call today and get your system serviced before it is 95 degrees and you are hot and wishing you would have spent that $175 and saved yourself THOUSANDS!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Paying more can cost you less!

Cheap vs Expensive, Does it pay to spend more?

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “You get what you pay for”? That doesn’t just apply to throwing the waiter a few bucks before he serves you or spending extra for a reliable car. This holds true to for your air conditioner, too. Below are a few tips to show you that cutting corners will most likely result in you not saving money.

1. Efficient Units vs. Cheap Units

In this economy, many people try and save money wherever they can – buying generic-brand groceries, shopping less, etc. There are certain things, however, that you simply cannot cut back on – and one them in your air conditioning unit. The less expensive the unit, the lower the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating is. Central air conditioning units should have a SEER rating of at least 14. To show you just how much of cost difference you’ll have in the long run, an air conditioner with the lowest SEER rating (8) will cost $100 in energy costs per month, while the highest rating (21) will cost $39 per month. That saves you 61% every month! You may be spending a few hundred now, but you’ll be saving over $700 every single year.

2. Strong Filters vs. Cheap Filters

A filter is an essential part of any air conditioner because its job is to trap all the contaminants from entering the air you breathe in. Now, clearly you want your family, friends and coworkers breathing in fresh, clean air. The sturdier the filter, the better it’ll work. However, if you decided to purchase a very cheap filter, the odds of breathing in those impurities increase dramatically – and no one wants that.

3. Name Brands vs. Cheap Brands

Spending extra money on an air conditioning unit with a name brand isn’t like buying a fancy purse or wallet – a knockoff will hold your money just as well as a Louis Vuitton. A name brand air conditioner, though, will take you from crazy heat to a cool home or office. The reason? Like we said before, you get what you pay for. Cheaper, non-brand name units are physically built cheaper and are, therefore, more likely to break down. What’s worse is that when (not if) they break down, their parts are that much harder to find.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fall, winter and HVAC

Well we are officially in the early stages of winter.  We set the clocks back 1 hour and most of us got a little more sleep.  We woke up to a bit colder temps but watched as the day got warmer.  This time a year always brings mixed emotions for me.  I love to see the different colors of the leaves, and watch how some of the wildlife begin to get more active during the day.  Nature is truly at is majesty this time of year and it makes for a peaceful evening around the fire pit in your back yard trying to drain every last moment you can get out of the day.  It does come with its challenges though,  how do you dress for days like these and how do you dress your children.  You want them to be warm in the morning but if you layer them to much then they are overly hot in the afternoon.  Well enough of my ramblings and on to how this crazy weather effects your HVAC system.

Well just as your body goes through the ups and downs with the temps this time a year, your HVAC system goes through the same issues.  Does it need to be on, does it need to shut off?  These are all common things that your system will experience this time of year.  It cycles on and off a lot during these days and nights and if you have a thermostat that does auto change over between heat and cool it is switching back and forth numerous times during these crazy days.  This type of operation can have grave affects on your HVAC system if it is not properly maintained and serviced. 

Servicing your HVAC system on a regular bases is very critical to its life expectancy and to its effective operation.  Having a regular maintenance agreement with your HVAC service provider is critical and can also help with the prevention of a major breakdown which could save you thousands of dollars in repair cost.  I have spent a lot of time taking to people about the advantages of getting a maintenance contract for your HVAC system.  The number one complaint that I get from consumers is that they don't want to buy it because it is like a warranty from Best Buy and you pay a lot for it and never use it.  This could not be farther from the truth!  I always counter them with do you change the oil in your car on a regular basis, do you tune up your car after so many miles?  Well your HVAC system is a lot like your car and much different from your stove.  See we in the HVAC industry have done a very poor job of promoting preventive maintenance to residential homeowners over the last 20 years, this in turn has allowed the consumer to begin to think of their HVAC systems are mere appliances and they do not pay them any attention until they break!  This way of thinking falls strictly on us as industry pros, but maintaining your system is a lot like maintaining your car.  Your HVAC system plays a vital role in families home comfort so it only makes sense to keep it operating at peak performance. 

Here is what you would typically get from an HVAC company for a 1 year maintenance agreement:

Fall you get your furnace checked out and cleaned to make sure that your furnace or heat pump is working properly and safely for your need for the winter.  They may or may not replace the filter for you as included in the price but at worst case they will tell you it needs replaced and give you a cost for replacing it.  If there are any other repairs needed they will give you the recommended repairs and the cost for making those repairs.  They will run test your furnace or heat pump for you and make sure that it runs and cycles off properly and comes back on as demand calls for.  Once complete they will go over everything that they have done and will let you know how your system is holding up and make any recommendations for replacement or additions at this time.  Total time should be 1-1 1/2 hours from start to finish barring any repairs needing to be done.

Spring you get your a/c checked and cleaned, they will them check the refrigerant charge in your system and make sure that it is at the proper operating pressures.  They will then check your filter and see if it needs to be changed, once again this may or may not be covered in your agreement.  The technician will then make sure the system cycles on and off properly based on demand.  Upon completion the tech will make any recommendations for replacement or addition and go over all work that they have done.  Total time should be 1 1/2- 2 hours. 

Remember that when you are getting cost for maintenance agreements from contractors that they are all doing the same things before you decided on one! 

I hope this helps you understand why it is so critical for you to have regular maintenance done on your HVAC system!  Just our 2 cents worth!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Your home, your health and your HVAC system!

It is funny how much money people will spend on novel things that they think are going to keep their families and themselves more healthy.  I was having a conversation with my 14 year old son and daughter last week about organic foods.  They have been studying the differences of organic foods versus farm raised foods that are full of steroids, I told them that their mother and I always try to buy only organic foods but in some cases they are much more expensive then the regular everyday items that most of us buy at the grocery.  My daughter in her best "but daddy" voice says isn't it worth the extra cost to make sure your family is healthy?  I told her "yes baby it is " (see she is the only girl of 4 kids so yes she is daddy's girl).  So this got me thinking as an Heating and Air Conditioning professional why is it that we don't sell as an industry to that same thought process?!

People will go and pay $400 for an Ionic Breeze room air cleaner but we are afraid to ask them to spend $400-$800 more for an air cleaner that will do their entire home and improve their families health and comfort! This really got me thinking am I offering all the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) products that I should be offering?  My answer was not one that I liked but probably not!  I was working our Murphy Company Heating and Cooling booth at a home show this past weekend and I started thinking to myself lets make it a point to inform and educate homeowners about the importance of IAQ!  I was floored by the amount of educated homeowners that did not know that it was their HVAC system that was responsible for the quality of air inside their home and the negative affects poor indoor air quality can have on their families health!  1 in 25 people that I spoke with did not know that it was their HVAC provider whom could help them with their indoor air quality! 

Well after taking my impromptu poll I decided that I was going to make it a point to start the education process!  I began while talking to people about the great furnace check and clean special we were offering for show customers, I was also letting them know the importance of IAQ for their family and their home.  Customers were blown away that the air in their homes can be improved by just adding a better filter to their system.  I was happy to inform every person that a quality filtering system could improve the air quality and the health of their home! 

As we transition into winter and our days get shorter and our nights longer we are spending more time indoors and with less fresh air coming in our homes, it is even more important to make sure that the quality of the air that you and your family are breathing is good,clean and Healthy! 
So don't wait to call your HVAC professional and ask them for ways that you can assure that the air your family is breathing in your home is clean and healthy. 

If you have any concerns or questions please go to our website and look over all the different IAQ products that are available for you and your family!

Once again clean healthy air equals a healthy family!

Your Friends
Murphy Company Heating and Cooling

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fall is in the air!

Well fall is upon us and it brings joy to lots of hearts as they begin their preparations to pack up the family wagon and head to one of the beautiful national parks or monuments that we have in this great country.  With fall comes the beautiful show of color that our forest and woodlands reveal with their turns from green of summer to the wonderful reds, yellows and orange of autumn.  It is truly a splendid time to enjoy those last minute hiking, biking and sightseeing trips where the entire family tries to be the first one to spot some of nature’s wildlife wondering around trying to gather what food they can before winter.   Fall is the last time we have to get this close to Mother Nature before old man winter brings in his cold winds and freezing temps and hikes and outdoor activities are replaced with afternoons in, snuggling under a blanket in front of a warm crackling fire watching your favorite football or basketball team.  Well not to be a downer but you better double check your destination before heading out for that trip!  Thanks to our friends in Washington all of the National Parks are closed during the government’s shutdown.  Campers have been given 48 hrs to pack up and leave, now some through roads will be open through the parks but all visitor locations, campgrounds, hiking trails and other sightseeing areas will be closed until the shutdown is over.

Don’t let all of this get you down and ruin your plans though!  Remember that Kentucky has some of the best state run parks in the country that offer a lot of the same adventures that the national parks offer.  Go and check out the state parks website for more information:

So get out and enjoy your fall break with the kids and find those hidden gems that could be right here in your backyard! 

Don’t forget to get your furnace or heat pump checked out and keep Old Man Winter away! 

Think about us when you need your heating system serviced.

Enjoy your fall trips from your friends at Murphy Company Heating and Cooling.
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Today's cooler weather makes you start thinking of getting your furnace cleaned.  We have a new special on Living Social.  Check it out!

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