How to Hire a Good HVAC Contractor in Boston
Households in the Boston area of Massachusetts spend an average of 22.5 cents per kilowatt-hour on electricity. On the other hand, typically, 27 percent of energy is lost due to poor installation of air conditioners and heat pumps. Given that this electricity rate is 66.7 percent higher than the national average, it is important to hire the services of a qualified HVAC contractor to handle your repairs and installations to save cost. However, there are several questions you must equally ask these professionals to ensure that you are getting the most competent HVAC contractor near you:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as an HVAC Contractor in the City of Boston?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other HVAC Contractors in the City of Boston?
- Do You Comply with the City of Boston Building Code for HVAC Work?
- Will You Get the HVAC Permits as Required by the City of Boston Code?
- What Kind of HVAC Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency HVAC Services in the City of Boston?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for HVAC Contractors in the City of Boston?
Are You Licensed to Practice as an HVAC Contractor in the City of Boston?
HVAC contractors or technicians in the City of Boston do not generally require a license to provide their services to residents of the city. Nonetheless, these contractors or technicians that engage in refrigerant-related work must obtain certification from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Similarly, any individual that wishes to work with refrigerant-containing equipment or appliances with a capacity of over 10 tons is mandated to obtain a state-issued license from the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Inspections (OPSI). This division issues various types of licenses, which include refrigeration apprentice licenses, refrigeration technician licenses, and refrigeration contractor licenses. The specific requirements for obtaining each of these licenses vary slightly. For instance, an applicant can only apply for the refrigeration apprentice license after meeting the following requirements:
- The applicant must be at least 18 years old and must have obtained a high school diploma
- The applicant must provide proof of being enrolled in an apprentice program
Similarly, an applicant can only apply for a refrigeration technician license after meeting the following requirements:
- The applicant must provide proof of 6000 hours working as a refrigeration apprentice
- The applicant must submit proof of 100 hours of refrigeration theory classes from an authorized trade school.
- The applicant must have completed 150 hours of the Massachusetts electrical code training.
Finally, an applicant can only apply for a refrigeration contractor license after meeting the following:
- The applicant must provide proof of 2000 hours working as a refrigeration technician
- The applicant must have completed 100 hours of additional refrigeration training
Under Section 45A of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts General Laws, performing airconditioning and refrigeration HVAC-related work in the City of Boston without an appropriate license will result in a fine of not less than twenty or more than three hundred dollars
For further inquiries concerning obtaining a refrigeration license, you can contact the OPSI via phone number (617) 727-3200.
You can verify the license of a refrigeration contractor using the ePLACE tool provided by the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Licensure or by calling this division at (617) 701-8600.
How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other HVAC Contractors in the City of Boston?
Asking for quotes from about two to three HVAC contractors is a good way to get the average price range for your specific HVAC project. However, note that several factors are considered while preparing a quote for an HVAC project and they include the cost of materials, cost of labor, nature of the job or extent of damage, and miscellaneous expenses.
An HVAC Contractor in the City of Boston earns an annual average wage of $53,410. The table below provides a cost comparison of the mean hourly wages for HVAC contractors in Boston against those of HVAC Contractors in the rest of Massachusetts as well as other major cities in the United States:Boston HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage$25.68Massachusetts HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage$25.68Los Angeles HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage$31.31Chicago HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage$29.31Houston HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage$26.40Detroit HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage$24.55Philadelphia HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage$28.80
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Do You Comply with the City of Boston Building Code for HVAC Work?
Hiring an HVAC contractor that is licensed and familiar with the Massachusetts State Building Code will exempt you from the administrative penalties that come with code violations. Hiring an HVAC contractor that is conversant with the code will also ensure that the project is carried out according to the standards and provisions of the building code. The Massachusetts Building Code, which has been adopted by the City of Boston, contains rules that regulate the installation, design, maintenance, and alteration of structures or systems inside buildings or properties in the city. These systems include refrigeration systems, heaters, boilers, air conditioning systems, and ventilation systems, and it is the responsibility of the Boston Inspectional Services Department to ensure compliance with the code. Before the commencement of any HVAC project, it is a good idea to be familiar with the provisions of building codes as this can help you spot an unethical HVAC contractor. For more inquiries on the Building Code and its requirements, you can contact the Boston Inspectional Services Department at:
- 1010 Massachusetts Avenue5th Floor
- Boston, MA 02118
- Phone: (617) 635-5300
- Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday
Will You Get the HVAC Permits as Required by the City of Boston Code?
A permit is generally required for HVAC activities in the City of Boston, which include the alteration, maintenance, and installation of mechanical systems. However, exemptions may be made under certain circumstances and you can contact the Boston Inspectional Services Department at (617) 635-5300 to find out which types of HVAC activities are permit exempted.
The Boston Inspectional Services Department is tasked with the responsibility of issuing permits in the City of Boston.
To obtain a permit, your HVAC contractor will be required to download and complete either a Microsoft Word or PDF format building application form from the Board of Building Regulation and Standards webpage. Your HVAC contractor will also have to select a permit application form according to the size of your property. There is a building application form for a one or two-family dwelling and an application form for additional dwelling units. The properly completed application forms, along with any other required documents and stipulated application fees can be submitted at the Boston Inspectional Services Department's office located at:
- Building Division
- Counter 21010 Massachusetts Avenue
- 5th FloorBoston, MA 02118
If the application form and documents submitted were satisfactory and in compliance with the city's building code, a permit would be issued for the project. After the permit for the HVAC project has been issued, you may need to schedule an inspection. Inspections are carried out to ensure the provisions of the code were complied with as it relates to your project. The Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Inspections is responsible for project inspections in the City of Boston. The inspectors will visit the site at different stages of the project to ensure strict compliance with the code. To schedule an inspection or to make further permit-related inquiries, you can call this office at (617) 727-3200.
What Kind of HVAC Services Do You Offer?
HVAC contractors in the City of Boston offer various services, which typically include HVAC system installation, maintenance, and repairs. When in need of the services of an HVAC contractor, it is essential to find out if the contractor has the skills and experience to undertake the particular task. For example, some HVAC contractors may be well versed in repairs and maintenance, but might be unable to carry out full installations. Therefore, before closing on any agreement, confirm the area of expertise of your HVAC contractor. Once you've confirmed that your contractor can handle the task, it's a good idea to find out how much these contractors charge for their services. Below are average cost estimates for common HVAC services in the City of Boston:Servicing an air conditioner$124 - $459Air conditioner capacitor replacement$100 - $250Evaporator coil replacement$675 - $1,300Thermostat replacement$100 - $150Heat exchanger replacement$1,300 - $2,050Furnace replacement$2,000 - $5,400Air duct replacement$1,400 - $5,600Radiator heating system replacement$3,332 - $10,548Gas boiler installation$5,524 - $10,886Cleaning of ducts and vents$325 - $427
Do You Offer Emergency HVAC Services in the City of Boston?
An HVAC-related problem can occur at any time, and it can cause great discomfort and an upward spike in your utility bill. With residents of the City of Boston already paying utility bills that are above the national average, it is essential to fix HVAC-related issues urgently. While it might seem like a good idea to hire the services of just any contractor in the event of an HVAC-related emergency, it is best to take time to hire a licensed, and experienced HVAC contractor near you for the job. Hiring a licensed HVAC contractor near you will ensure that the problem is found and fixed promptly without it escalating. You can find licensed and experienced emergency HVAC contractors near you by utilizing third-party websites like Google Review, Better Business Bureau, and Yelp. After making use of the third-party website to hire an HVAC contractor, you must do your due diligence by verifying if the contractor is duly licensed. You can verify the license of your HVAC contractor using the ePLACE tool provided by the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Licensure or by calling this division at (617) 701-8600.
Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for HVAC Contractors in the City of Boston?
In 2020, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics published that 7900 non-fatal occupational injuries were recorded In the HVAC industry. Employing the services of an insured HVAC contractor will absolve you of any financial burden or lawsuits that may arise from an accident on your project site. The City of Boston has made it mandatory for every HVAC contractor in the city to obtain workers' compensation insurance coverage from the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents. This department oversees the Massachusetts workers' compensation system and maintains a directory of all contractors with active workers' compensation. As a project owner, you must also ensure that your HVAC contractor has a general liability insurance plan that is sufficient to cover the cost of any work-related accident that may occur on your project site. To verify your HVAC contractor's insurance coverage, you can ask for proof in the form of an insurance certificate and then go a step further by contacting the issuing body to authenticate it. You can also utilize the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents database to confirm your contractor's coverage or call the department at (617) 727-4900 to do this. For further inquiries on obtaining insurance coverage, you can send a mail to the department at:
- 1 Congress Street
- Boston, MA 02114
When in the need of the services of an HVAC contractor in the City of Boston, it is crucial to steer clear of fraudulent HVAC contractors. In 2021, home improvement scams were among the top 10 scams reported across the United States. Americans spend a lot of money on home improvement annually, therefore it is not unusual to find unethical HVAC contractors trying to swindle residents in the city. In 2019, several individuals posed to be contractors and went from door to door offering home improvement services at incredibly low rates. After they were hired, they were given a part payment and they went further to request more money, claiming there was more work to be done. When the project owners refused to pay more money, they disappeared, leaving the work incomplete.
There are several signs to look out for that can help you detect possible scammers:
- The contractor requests that you obtain the permits required for the project
- The contractor offers incredibly low rates
- The contractor is unable to show proof of valid license
- The contractor quotes too many unnecessary additional charges
- The contractor requests a cash-only deal
- The contractor requests a large down payment
- The contractor makes unsolicited repair offers
- The contractor offers a time-limited package and tries to pressure you into hiring them immediately to enjoy a discount.
- The contractor makes unsolicited calls or visits and offers discounted services
You can avoid falling victim to these scams by doing the following:
- Never pay more than one-third of the total cost upfront
- Get quotes from three to four contractors
- Request referrals from friends and family
- Ask for proof of insurance and call the issuing insurance company to verify it
- Look up the contractor on third-party websites like Better Business Bureau
- Get a contract for the project and make sure you understand the terms and conditions before signing.
If you've been swindled by an HVAC contractor, you may file a complaint with the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Licensure (DOL) using the division's ePLACE portal. Note that you would have to register on the portal and follow the instructions given to enable you to submit this complaint. Alternatively, you can download and fill the DOL's complaint form, and then mail the completed form to:
- 1000 Washington Street
- Suite 710
- Boston, MA 02118
Further complaint-related inquiries can be directed to the DOL at (617) 701-8600.
Lastly, if you suspect that you have been approached by a fraudulent HVAC contractor or if you have fallen victim to such a scam, you can also contact the Boston Police Department via phone number (617) 343-4633 or in person at:
- 1 Schroeder Plaza
- Boston, MA 02120