You might save a buck or two up-front by hiring an unlicensed heating & air conditioning (HVAC) contractor. But do you know what you’ll get? Maybe the work will turn out to be a real value. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance it won’t. You may even pay more in the future if the contractor makes errors or does shoddy work.
The Better Business Bureau calls low-budget, unlicensed contractors an appealing trap that can “cost you more in the long run.” With a licensed contractor, you have the protections of competence, experience and insurance should something go wrong. Your warranty will stay intact, as well.
What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
If you only need a filter change, there may be no harm in hiring someone without a license. Then again, a filter should be easy for you to change without help. For anything more, a licensed contractor is your best bet.
That’s because an unlicensed contractor has the potential to damage your home and/or your HVAC unit. He/she might directly or indirectly harm your family, as well. Following are just a few additional possibilities:
- Installation of an inappropriate, undersized or oversized unit
- Installation or repairs that result in excessive energy consumption
- Gas leaks
- Electrical overload
- Ductwork damage
- Personal injury
- Voided warranty
What Does HVAC Licensing Mean?
HVAC Licensing is more than a card in a wallet or certificate on the wall. In Tennessee, HVAC contractor licensing is required if the contractor bids on a job valued at more than $25,000.
(According to the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance, “there is not a state HVAC license for small projects less than $25,000 … [though] HVAC contractors may be regulated at the local level and if not, [a] Home Improvement license will be required to perform HVAC.” )
To obtain a contractor’s license, HVAC technicians must satisfy certain requirements, which include professional training. According to the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance, applicants must also pass an exam on Tennessee Business and Law, “in addition to any ‘Trade Exam’ which may be needed to obtain many classifications” [like HVAC].
Licensed technicians are also required to have General Liability insurance—a minimum of $100,000 for contractor’s licenses with a monetary limit of up to $500,000 and higher amounts for monetary limits above that) —which an unlicensed worker probably won’t have.
Of course, a license doesn’t guarantee that you won’t have problems. But a licensed contractor’s insurance can step in to cover losses or damages. Licensing also preserves the protection of your HVAC unit’s warranty. Without a license, your unit—even a brand-new one—might lose its warranty in whole or in part.
Can You Afford to Hire the Best HVAC Technicians?
The most obvious reason homeowners tend to hire unlicensed contractors is to save a little money up front. If one bid is much lower than any others, it can be tempting to pay less now and hope for the best.
But a licensed contractor doesn’t have to equal premium or unaffordable costs. That’s because homeowners trust professionals who do great work, especially when it comes to an investment as important as heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The better an HVAC company’s reputation, the more customers it attracts. That’s why the busiest contractors can offer more than just top-notch work, they often offer affordable prices as well.
As for that low-priced, unlicensed worker you’ve thought about? If you lose your warranty, is that worker really a bargain? Probably not. Never mind the fact that your HVAC system is likely among the biggest investments you’ll make, so you owe it to your home and family to work with a reputable professional.
If you need seasonal maintenance, diagnostics and repair, or you’re in the market for a new HVAC system, Jewell Mechanical is the right choice. We’re licensed in Tennessee, and we work hard to earn your trust. Contact us online for a consultation, or call us at (615) 469-5965.