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Spring 2014 Newsletter

Finding Licensed Contractors, and why you should avoid Unlicensed Contractors

An unlicensed contractor is someone who performs work without state certification. It can be dangerous and costly. Choosing a licensed contractor can keep give you the peace of mind that the work will be performed with quality in mind. After all, the licensed contractor seeks to further his good reputation. Happy customers means good business.

Every state has a different set of requirements for contractor eligibility, but they all share a few key components. Reviewing these will give you a sense of the legal process that licensed contractors must undergo to perform state-certified home improvement services.

  • At least 18 years old with a high school diploma or equivalent education
  • U.S. citizen or legal resident
  • Other occupational license documentations must be shared
  • Explanation of citations, violations or liens resulting from construction work

Additionally, many states require that applicants take a written examination in their field of practice. Applicants may have to prove that they are financially viable to properly operate a business, they have on-the-job experience, and may also be asked to supply letters of reference from previous employers, customers, and bankers.

If you’re unsure about your contractor, take heed of the following signs:

  • Door-to-door solicitation with lofty claims of service.
  • Feeling rushed: if you sense that your contractor is being aggressive or pushy.
  • Some states make it a requirement that all certified contractors need to publish their license number on their vehicles, estimates and advertising. If your state requires this and you don’t see it, that may be a sign of evasion.
  • If your contractor asks for the total fee upfront or a large percentage in advance.

If you suspect that your contractor is not exactly telling you the truth about his licensing, ask to see a physical copy, and feel free to contact your state licensing board to look up any available background information. The board is not only there to provide reference, but also to help you resolve disputes and conflicts between you and your contractor, if you negotiate with an unlicensed contractor, you are on your own.

Have you cleaned your ducts lately?

Because the ductwork inside your home distributes the cool air throughout your various living spaces, your central air conditioning system depends on the ductwork in your home. The air ducts help deliver air from supply and return vents, and they also affect indoor air quality if they are dirty. Cleaning your ducts should be part of every homeowner’s checklist, especially as the cooling season begins. If you notice that the filtered air of your home is no longer as fresh as it once was, or if you smell or see mold or vermin, please schedule a comprehensive duct cleaning today. The air you breathe in your home every day can be affected by the cleanliness of your ductwork.

Ducts are traditionally made out of sheet metal, which is installed and then later insulated, although there are also sheet metal panels that are self-insulating, with phenolic or foam panels inside the metal wraps. More recently, there have been advances in fabric and flexible ducts, but it really depends upon the specific application and your budget.

The following checklist may help you understand more about the benefits to having your ductwork inspected and cleaned by a professional. If you have any of the following conditions in your home duct system, you should probably call in a pro:

  • Water damage: If you notice rust in parts of your ductwork or water staining around adjacent areas, then this may be a concern. You may have a humidity problem, resulting in excessive condensation and inadequate drainage.
  • Slime or microbial growth: Do you smell or see mold? This one should be obvious. Call a duct cleaner!
  • Debris build-up that restricts air flow: Excessive dust, dander or other debris can eventually begin to hamper your airflow, and can ultimately prevent your system from operating efficiently and effectively.
  • Dust discharged from diffusers: If you see or smell dust when your air conditioner kicks on, it’s likely that you have excessive dust in your ductwork.
  • Bad odor: If the air emerging from your ducts or in and around parts of your central air smells rank, this could indicate a problem with vermin infestation.

As with most problems in your heating, ventilation and air conditioning, prevention is the key. Routine maintenance programs are an excellent way to stay on top of duct contamination problems before they start.

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