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Questions to Ask Before Hiring an HVAC Contractor in the City of Phoenix
Between November 2020 and November 2021, there was a 4.84% increase in electricity prices per kilowatt across Phoenix City, with residents paying11.96 cents per kWh. However, residents' monthly bills may get higher from energy wastage resulting from poor installation, leakages, and poor maintenance of their home heating and cooling systems. As such, it is critical to engage the services of a good HVAC contractor when planning to install your home's HVAC system or when you notice any defects or malfunctions.
Although colleagues and friends can give good pointers on finding a good HVAC contractor near you, it is best to consider several factors before settling for any contractor. Examples of such factors include whether your desired contractor is duly licensed and the cost of your planned project. In this regard, you can ask the following questions:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as an HVAC Contractor in the City of Phoenix?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other HVAC Contractors in the City of Phoenix?
- Do You Comply with the City of Phoenix Building Code for HVAC Work?
- Will You Get the HVAC Permits as Required by the City of Phoenix Code?
- What Kind of HVAC Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency HVAC Services in the City of Phoenix?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for HVAC Contractors in the City of Phoenix?
- How to File a Complaint Against a Bad HVAC Contractor in the City of Phoenix
In Phoenix, anyone offering HVAC services that cost more than $1,000 or requires a permit within the city must first be duly licensed by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ARC). Offering such service without the appropriate license is unlawful and attracts several penalties, including a minimum fine of $2,000 and other administrative penalties typically determined by the Registrar.
Contractor licenses for HVAC services vary and include specialty licenses, specialty licenses with solar, and dual licenses. Accordingly, these license types also have different scopes, and specific services license holders are allowed to perform. Nonetheless, anyone interested in obtaining an HVAC license is generally required to meet certain licensing conditions. Some of these conditions include obtaining at least four years of experience in handling HVAC-related work, passing the applicable license examination, and obtaining the relevant insurance. Required experience may be practical or managerial. Anyone who has met all licensing conditions can submit a completed license application form, pay the required fees, and present required documents to the ARC upon request. The processing period for a license application varies and can take as long as 60 days. License applicants are advised to ensure they submit all requested documents and appropriately fill any forms, as failure to do so may make their application incomplete and lengthen its processing period. Queries regarding licensing requirements, processes, and general information can be directed to the ARC at (602) 542-1525. Interested persons can also visit the ARC contractor license guide webpage for more information.
Residents of Phoenix are generally advised to ensure that they hire only licensed HVAC contractors to handle their cooling and heating-related matters. You can check the licensing status of your intended HVAC contractor by utilizing the online contractor search portal maintained by the ARC.
The hourly rate HVAC contractors charge in Phoenix is dependent on different considerations, such as the contractor's license type, skill, and the demands of your project. As such, this charge varies by contractor and project. However, comparing estimates from several contractors near you is a good way to find out the average hourly rate for your project. Comparing estimates can also help with other details, such as finding out the price for required materials and coming up with a budget. Therefore, you can make more informed financial decisions regarding your project.
An HVAC Contractor in the City of Phoenix earns an annual average wage of $50,070. The table below provides a cost comparison of the mean hourly wages for HVAC contractors in Phoenix against those of HVAC Contractors in the rest of Arizona as well as other major cities in the United States:
Besides ensuring your HVAC contractor is appropriately licensed, you should also confirm this contractor is conversant with the Mechanical Code applicable in the City of Phoenix. The city currently utilizes an adopted and partly amended version of the 2018 International Mechanical Code. This Code regulates the performance of HVAC-related services and the use of HVAC-related equipment and systems across Phoenix, including heating and cooling systems, drain pipe materials and sizes, air distribution, mechanical ventilation systems, and all mechanical systems.
The city's Mechanical Code is enforced by the Phoenix Planning and Development Department (PDD), and it is generally implemented to protect the life and property of city residents as they interact with mechanical equipment and systems in their homes. Accordingly, the Code stipulates several conditions aimed at ensuring that all HVAC-related work in Phoenix is properly done. These conditions include mandating the issuance of permits before HVAC work can commence and requiring that this work be inspected by a building official before it can be cleared by city authorities as appropriate. Failure to follow the stipulations of the Code is unlawful and attracts penalties that are typically determined by the PDD. When all these are considered, the importance of hiring an HVAC contractor familiar with the city's Mechanical Code cannot be overstated. For more information on Code compliance, penalties for non-compliance, and relevant code-related tips for your HVAC project, you can contact the PDD at 602) 262-7811.
As mandated by the Phoenix Building Construction Code, a permit is required for any HVAC-related work done within the City of Phoenix. However, per section 105.2 of this Code, certain HVAC works are exempted and can be done without a permit. Examples of these works include the installation of a portable heating appliance or portable cooling unit.
The PDD is responsible for processing and issuing HVAC-related permits in Phoenix. All HVAC permits can be obtained in person, except permits for the replacement of a one-split air conditioning system, which can be obtained online through the PDD online permit portal. For in-person applications, interested persons can visit the PDD office located at:Planning & Development Department
200 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85003
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Mondays - Fridays, excluding major holidays
Interested persons can also contact the PDD at (602) 262-7811 for more information on permitting requirements and processes. After obtaining a permit, permit holders must schedule inspections with the PDD before completing the HVAC work. These inspections are conducted by a building official who assesses the work and confirms that it follows the stipulations of the Mechanical Code, the requirements of the permit for it, and any other applicable city ordinances. All inspections are done on-site, except inspections for the replacement of a one-split air conditioning system, which can be done remotely by video. Permit holders can schedule a video inspection with the PDD by email or by contacting the Department at (602) 262-7811. Similarly, on-site inspection scheduling, as well as inspection-related inquiries, can be done by contacting the PDD at the aforementioned number. Inquiries on scheduling HVAC inspections can be made by submitting an online inquiry form or accessing the PDD's inspection online guide for more information.
HVAC contractors in Phoenix offer wide-ranged services, including installation, repair, replacement, maintenance, and consultation services. As such, it is crucial to ensure that any contractor you intend to hire is skilled enough to perform the services you need. You can confirm this by asking the contractor to provide references from previous clients with a similar HVAC project as yours or by asking the contractor about their area of specialization. After confirming your intended contractor has the skill to handle your project, it is also essential to find out the contractor's charge rate so that you can budget for the project. Provided below are average cost estimates for common HVAC services in Phoenix:
There are different reasons why you may need to engage the services of an HVAC contractor, one of which is to perform emergency maintenance or repairs. Emergency services are typically necessary for situations whereby your home's heating or cooling system suddenly develops faults. Situations needing emergency servicing also include water leaks, dirty filters, low cooling or heating output, unusual noises, and ignition or regulation faults. Generally, leaving these situations unattended can potentially make your home uncomfortable and, in some cases, like ignition or regulation faults, increase your utility bills. Although residents of Phoenix pay an average of $0.136 per kilowatt in utility bills, which is relatively low compared to the national average of $0.142, leaving HVAC-related problems unchecked can inflate this bill and lead to needless and avoidable expenses.
However, while it is crucial to address HVAC-related issues as soon as possible, you should also ensure you hire a contractor that is licensed and skilled enough to handle such issues. You can easily find licensed contractors near you by utilizing the ARC's contractor search portal. Alternatively, you can utilize review-dedicated websites like Yelp and Better Business Bureau or ask for referrals from colleagues and neighbors. Nevertheless, when you find a contractor through any third-party means, ensure that this contractor is duly licensed. It is also advisable to determine the contractor's level of proficiency by asking for their area of specialization and requesting references from previous clients. If you found the contractor through review-dedicated websites, you can also look up reviews on the contractor that may have been published on the website.
Per figures from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4,500 nonfatal occupational injuries involving HVAC contractors across the country in 2019. Considering the possibility of a workplace accident during your HVAC work, it is advisable that you hire only contractors with general liability and workers' compensation insurance. This way, you are not held financially liable for any injuries that may result from these accidents. Nonetheless, while contractors in Phoenix are not mandated to maintain general liability insurance, they are required to maintain workers' compensation insurance and file a bond with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ARC). The required bond amount for each year depends on the contractor's gross income for the filing year. You can confirm if a contractor has complied with insurance and bond requirements by requesting that they provide documentary proof and authenticating it with the relevant organization. Alternatively, you can contact the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) at (602) 542-4661 to confirm if your contractor has complied with workers' compensation insurance and contact the ARC at (602) 542-1525 to confirm if this contractor has also complied with all applicable bond requirements.
When searching for a contractor for your HVAC work, it is essential that you take extra steps to ensure that you do not become the victim of a contractor scam. These types of scams, particularly, HVAC-related ones, are not uncommon in the City of Phoenix. For example, in March 2021, the Arizona Attorney General (AG) Office announced that Landmark Home Warranty, a home improvement company that handles air conditioning servicing, will pay restitution to over 26,000 customers across Arizona, including Phoenix City. This announcement came after a series of complaints and investigations revealing that the company has repeatedly failed to perform air conditioning maintenance and repair services to customers that had already paid for these services. Also, the Arizona AG Office is considering suing another home improvement company, Choice Home Warranty, after recent complaints from consumers in the Phoenix City area concerning the company's failure to abide by warranty agreements and perform air conditioning maintenance and repair for customers. Furthermore, the company has allegedly failed to reimburse customers who paid other contractors for these maintenances and repairs from their pockets.
While aggrieved parties in the Landmark Home Warranty case were able to get personal remedy concerning the matter, many homeowners are not so lucky, and some never receive restitution for the acts of scammers in the city. As such, you should consider the following tips when searching for an HVAC contractor in Phoenix to protect yourself from the activities of scammers in the area:
- Ask about the contractor you are about to engage. Confirm if the contractor has a good reputation, whether the contractor has been involved in any fraud, and if clients are satisfied with the contractor's services. You can find these out by asking the contractor to provide references from previous clients and further contacting the clients for more information.
- Ensure any contractor you hire is duly licensed. It is much easier to seek redress and get compensation for the fraudulent activities of licensed contractors than it is to do for unlicensed contractors. To confirm a contractor's license, you can utilize the ARC's contractor search portal.
- Compare estimates from at least three contractors. Comparing estimates will help with finding out the average rate for your project and avoiding excessively high or low bids.
- Get a written contract. Ensure that any agreement with an HVAC contractor is in writing and signed. Also, ensure this agreement contains the important aspects of the project, such as the contractor's job description, the project's expected completion time, and the agreed pay.
- Bargain with the contractor on a reasonable down payment and never make full payment upfront.
- Avoid cash payments. It is better to make payments with a credit card, money order, or check.
- Keep a detailed record of the project. This includes keeping documents such as payment receipts and signed agreements or contracts between you and the contractor.
If you get scammed by a contractor, you can report the matter to the ARC. Such reports can be made online through the ROC customer portal or by requesting a printable complaint form, completing this form, and submitting it to the ARC as required. For more information on reporting contractor scams in Phoenix, you can contact the ARC at (602) 542-1525.
Additionally, you can institute a small claims case against the contractor at the Maricopa County Justice Courts. However, note that you cannot claim more than $3,500 in this small claims case. Also, you should consider contacting a qualified attorney for legal advice or better legal options.