Are you putting your family in Danger?
Do you know if your contractor has an HVAC License? You would think the question of possessing the proper HVAC license would be an easy one to answer. Ha! Not here in Michigan, just visit- LARA – Mechanical Division – State of Michigan you will quickly see it’s quite complicated to search out a specific contractor. Unless you have the complete and entire name as listed with the mechanical division, it’s going to be a long search, and many give up (including me). Even with the information at hand, you may find it’s a daunting task for any consumer.
Any persons or company claiming to have the proper credentials, must be checked and verified before you allow the work to begin. When I hire a contractor, or sub-contractor, they must present the actual license before the job is awarded, or at the minimum, before any money leaves my pocket.
Michigan has laws that require every contractor, to have a proper license for the work they offer. The bigger issue with the state is the policing of these policies. The state leaves it up to the individual city, or building department to police work being done in their city. This is an impossible task to perform, because the amount of square miles to be covered, is by too few a city officials. Some side guys do the whole cloak and dagger, secret installs and drive unmarked vehicles. These “side guys” or “craigslist guys” make it difficult, to say the least, and put many people at risk.
The Michigan Attorney General or Michigan Consumer Protection and Complaints, are here to help, only after a problem or an issue has begun. Try and head it off before it gets to that level, save yourself the aggravation.
Here are some of the required HVAC license in Michigan
HVAC equipment installation- only allows the installation of a product.
Ductwork- only permits the fabrication and installation of sheet metal.
Limited Refrigeration- This is a service only license, limiting you to repairs up to a required size of air conditioning.
Limited heating service- This is a service only license, limiting you to repairs up to a required size of heating system.
Unlimited heating service- This allows service performed on any size heating system.
Fuel gas piping- Required to install or service fuel lines, natural or LP gas.
Boiler installer- You can only install a boiler with this license.
Boiler service- You can only service a boiler with this license.
This is a short list of required license needed to perform HVAC or Boiler work in a home or a business. Be aware, if the person only has an HVAC equipment license, they can only install new HVAC equipment. Working on a gas line, Boiler or ductwork would be legal and not allowed with that single category license. To repair a non-operating unit, would also be illegal, unless they carry the specific and correct license to do so.
Watch out for the cheaters
Many people only have the basic license, but still complete all the levels of work (Illegally). The poor homeowner is none the wiser, and believes everything is legit. The dangers here are, if something was to go bad. The property owner could end up being responsible for the worker. You may have to pay their medical expenses, or wages. It sounds crazy, I know. But this is the reality, and you should be aware of such risk. You may also be accountable for the damages to the home, and have no recourse. The risk of insurance loss, or loss of coverage is likely because you failed to have a contractor with the proper license and/or no permits. Now you’re left with a mess to clean up at your own expense.
Craigslist can cost you double
Everyone seems to know someone who can work on their Furnace or Air Conditioner. Yes, the initial savings seem good, but are often offset by a breakdown or an intermittent issue. You then have to reach out to the guy (with the big savings), but is nowhere in sight and won’t return your calls. If you are one of the lucky few, to get him back out to your home, you have no guarantee the work was done correctly. This is why a legitimate and legal business has such value. They aren’t going anywhere, and they want you as a lifetime customer not a one timer, or quick cash sale.
Good luck shopping for a local contractor and remember to research whoever you choose. Reviews alone don’t tell the whole story and certainly do not guarantee they have a license.