How to find a great heating engineer?
Posted by: Vincent Wilkins: 23/10/2012
The bitterness of poor quality lasts long after the sweetness of low price has gone!
Like any major purchase careful consideration needs to be taken before parting with your hard earned cash. As tempting as it often is to go with the cheapest option we’ve all heard the saying “you get what you pay for”. Like me at some point you will have been bitten, cheapest is definitely not always best. Having to pay to have a job put right is something you’ll want to avoid at all costs, sadly it’s happened to me more times than I care to mention and I really should have known better.
Too many badly plastered walls, wooden floor that bowed and developed gaps, doors that won’t shut properly; I could go on. When I find a craftsman who takes pride in what he does, I count my blessings. So unsurprisingly it’s not unusual for me as a heating engineer to have to put right someone else’s work long after the previous engineer has bolted and is no longer answering their calls. Whilst I urge customers to pursue the worst of these through courts they are often reluctant to do so, somehow feeling responsible and stupid for making a bad choice in the first place or even feeling intimidated by a particular tradesman.
Or they simply feel that it would be a futile waste of time and money. So what can you do to avoid the cowboys and those whose standards leave a lot to be desired and who could leave you worse off than you expected? Never be afraid to ask lots of questions. A decent engineer should be able to answer your questions and be able to give straightforward, honest answers. If he can't, ask why? Below I have outlined a few points to consider when looking for an installer.
- Ask to see ID or check on the relevant websites such as Gas Safe, HETAS, OFTEC and MCS.
- Ask how long they’ve been in business, a bit of homework will verify this if you are suspicious.
- Do they have up to date public liability insurance, ask to see a copy if need be.
- Ask them to provide local referrals and testimonials.
- If you are undertaking a costly multi source heating system consider asking to view their work.
- Ask what else is included? After sales service, guarantees and workman ship warranties and guarantees.
- For smaller jobs make sure you are fully aware of the rates and any call out charge.
- For larger installs, ask for a full written quote (so you know exactly what you are getting) that offers a 14-day cooling off period.
- Check the make and efficiency of boiler or other products? Ensure this is specified within the quote.
- Ask if they sub contract any of the work, if so ask them to be specific so you know who’s doing what
- Don’t be afraid to call the engineer up with additional questions you may have.
- Power Flushing should be done as standard and included in the price of any boiler installation. To not power flush is extremely bad practice in my opinion.
- Be very suspicious if you are visited by a sales rep particularly one offering discounts on a sign now basis. Remember a sales rep is there to clinch a deal and make their commission.
Getting a quote
It’s always worth asking colleagues, friends and family if they can recommend someone if you don’t feel confident about picking someone at random from the internet or a directory, which can be very much hit and miss. Companies like us who have been around a long time often tend not to advertise in the directories having built up a large customer base and with much work coming from recommendations. Before the engineer arrives to inspect your home be prepared. The engineer should ask you some important questions about your lifestyle and current system. This will enable correct specification of the appliance, boiler and heating system. If they don’t or they fail to answer any of your questions or comes across a bit vague this should set the alarm bells ringing. Like most technologies today, things have moved on at such a fast pace in the heating world in recent years it’s no wonder its proving hard for some people to keep up to speed.
Be wary about any engineer who attempts to talk you out of something just because he does not have the skills or knowledge. It’s often easier for an engineer to be negative about a technology simply because they don’t, won’t or can’t acquire the skills or knowledge. Money, time and confidence can be an issue for some engineers in embracing the newer technologies. Do your research so you can make an informed choice in deciding what you want and whether it’s worth the expense. After all it’s your decision. It's essential to establish the after sales service/support the installer is offering. Some installers may be very competent at specifying and installing systems but are they able to repair them? Surprisingly not all have the knowledge to fault find and diagnose problems on the new breed of hi-tech condensing boilers. Be sure to check their credentials preferably going with a firm that is qualified by the manufacturer to install that make of boiler.
You might want to consider getting at least 2 quotes. This will not only give you a good feel for the price you should be paying but will also enable you to assess their professionalism and knowledge against each other. Once you have all the quotes in go through them carefully, ensuring you are comparing apples for apples. Check that they are offering comparable makes and models of boiler/product. Ensure the outputs and efficiencies of all boilers/products are similar, if not, question why. It never ceases to amaze me the inability of some installers to correctly specify the correct size of appliance and the appalling standards of work I come across. This blog in testimonials relates some prime example of some of the horror stories I have encountered which have cost the customers a lot of money for Conduction (UK) Ltd to put right.
On both occasions the customers ultimately chose different installers after having initially contacted me, I guess they won’t be making that mistake again. The moral of the story is don’t just choose your installer on price alone, it could cost you dearly in the long run. If your preferred installer is slightly higher it might be worth asking if they can price match for like for like but don’t be offended if they say no. Bear in mind they may want to see a copy of the other quote. If they won’t budge on the price, ask yourself is it worth the saving to take second best or should you trust your gut instinct. Do remember, it's not all about price but the full package on offer, including the ongoing maintenance.
Rest assured with Conduction (UK) Ltd you get the full package and more. Visit our Great installs, nice people, no mess blog to find out more about us and why we should be top of your list.
Further reading can be found on any of the follow:
- GAS SAFE
- GAS SAFE
- This A-Z contains the explanations and meanings of acronyms and abbreviations associated with oil fired heating (useful for heating in general)