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How to find a qualified heating contractor?

hbiss Member Posts: 4
I'm an electrician by trade, been one for many years and know the business quite well. I know that technology over the years has changed enormously for us. At one time an electrician was qualified to handle anything thrown at him. Not so today. It would be unusual to find one electrician who is competent to to handle everything because parts of the trade have become so specialized. A guy who does residential wiring likely isn't going to know network cabling for an office building or fiber optics. Yet sadly, especially in this economy, there will be those who can't turn down a job so they will "bull head" their way through something they know little about and that leads to a less than optimum job.

My reason for saying all this is because I'm going to be looking for proposals to update my vintage 1955 oil fired Arcoliner HW boiler that has two one pipe zones of cast iron radiators to a gas fired high efficiency boiler.

My problem is that I also know that the plumbing and heating trade has gone through huge technology changes also. In the "old days" a hydronic system was not difficult to master but with today's high efficiency boilers and customers demanding the best efficiency because of fuel costs you have to know your stuff. I know plumbers who can "throw" in a boiler. I have also wired enough boilers to recognize God awful work from good work. Nearly every plumber has Plumbing and Heating after the name.

So, my question is how do you find a qualified heating contractor? Are there manufacturer and industry certifications to look for that sets them apart from plumbers doing heating work?



  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,483

    Have you looked here in the find a pro? If that doesn't work, find the local rep for the boiler line or lines you're interested in and call and ask them for a referral. They see the problem jobs and those problems usually have a common denominator.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • hbiss
    hbiss Member Posts: 4
    Good idea

    Nothing listed for my zip I'm afraid. Contacting the reps is a good idea.

  • City and State

    Tell us where you live.  Someone might chime in.
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hourTwo btu/ per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,117
    The zip code whiz bang

    doesn't always seem to work.  Try selecting your state, and looking for folks in the area.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • hbiss
    hbiss Member Posts: 4
    City and state

    Westchester County, New York. I did see Frank & Lindy in Peekskill that I know of.

  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086
    I Have A Guy

    I cover Orange, Rockland, Westchester and pretty much from Albany out to Long Island.. Perry Plumbing and Heating in Cornwall. He does Westchester. Specializes in Viessmann, radiant, solar, etc..He should be in the contractor locator..

    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • bill nye_3
    bill nye_3 Member Posts: 307
    How to find ....

    You have an advantage over people who are not in  the trades, you already know who not to pick, the plumber who "threw in a boiler". What about the ones you wired who did a good job ? The better contractors probably wire their own stuff though.

     You could ask local supply house or building inspector for recommendations. Friends or neighbors always have an opinion of the contractor who did work for them. If the contractor did a lousy job they will tell anyone who listen to them what a bum the contractor was. If the contractor did a good job the home owner might tell one or two people.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,537

    You know why the homeowner only tells a couple people about the good ones, because that's what's expected right.

    Kinda like sports everyone cheers when a touchdown, home run, goal etc. is scored........wait a minute isn't that their job isn't that why their paid? So what's all the cheering about?
  • CMadatMe
    CMadatMe Member Posts: 3,086
    The Cheering

    Is for their fantasy team not the team the guy that scored was actually on. :) In other words, its a cheer for themselves.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • hbiss
    hbiss Member Posts: 4
    Customer recommendations

    My experience is that customers aren't reliable as references. Unless the job was a total disaster they usually don't have a clue as to whether it was done properly as long as it seems to work. You'll likely get recommendations because the company had a personable salesman, they had the lowest price, the workers were neat and on time or some other superfluous reasons that have little to do with technical abilities that a customer would know nothing about.

    I was at a new house not long ago where the builder apparently hired the cheapest guy around to do the plumbing and heating. I was in the boiler room and noticed that the air scoop was installed upside down with the float vent hanging upside down off the bottom. I mentioned it to the homeowner and all I got was that the system works great.

  • Steve Whitbeck
    Steve Whitbeck Member Posts: 669

    Call your local distributor for different brands of high efficient boilers. They should be able to give you the names of someone that does quality work and is knowledgeable of the brands they sell.
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