Installing an AC system looks easy, doesn’t it? There’s a condenser; an air handler unit (AHU); ductwork up in your attic, and lots of duct tape. You’re good to go, right? Wrong.
It’s the same with unlicensed contractors. Someone without a license is breaking the law by working as if he or she had a license. Where’s the accountability in that? Like “rocket surgery”, installing an AC system is only easy if you’re licensed to do so. Why? Because it’s not so easy to get a license! Licensed HVAC contractors are your best choice to complete the job because:
- HVAC licensing statutes hold licensed contractors to higher standards of experience and liability;
- Licensing tests require a substantial amount of studying and a thorough understanding of complicated textbooks like Fibrous Glass Duct Construction Standards and the Florida Energy Code;
- Licensed HVAC contractors in Florida have the knowledge necessary to navigate the local permitting systems; and
- HVAC licensing is designed to make it safer for consumers who are looking for a contractor.
You have to EARN your license as an HVAC contractor. Suppose you decide you want a Class A license so you can contract -- anywhere in Florida -- for any services within the boundaries of your experience, knowledge, and skills. You can install, maintain, repair, fabricate, alter, extend, or design central air conditioning, refrigeration, heating, and ventilating systems. A Class B license limits services to 25 tons of cooling and 500,000 BTU of heating within one system.
In order to provide either level of these services, you have to pre-qualify to take a licensing exam.
To even qualify to take an exam, you must provide documentation verifying four years of experience in the field. You have to provide a current credit report and financial statement that defines a specific net worth. You must have general liability insurance with $100,000 bodily injury and $25,000 property damage. Once you pass the pre-qualification process, here’s what is required to obtain and maintain an HVAC license:
- Each exam lasts 4 ½ hours. One is given in the morning; the second is given in the afternoon of the same day.
- One of the exams covers business and finance; the other covers the HVAC trade.
- Each year you have to complete 14 hours of CEUs in order to maintain the license.
You can apply for an HVAC license for $248 or $309 depending on what part of an even or odd year you apply. Obtaining a license now, in November 2015, would cost $309 for an individual, and $308 for a business.
If approached by an unlicensed contractor, keep in mind all the steps this individual may miss in the permitting process as well as their lack of liability and accountability. The best, safest, and most reliable route for air conditioning repairs, servicing, and installation is to hire a licensed Florida HVAC contractor.