How to Hire a Good HVAC Contractor in Dallas
A recent study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) revealed that improper installation of your home's heating and cooling equipment can increase household energy use by 30 percent. With households in Dallas paying 12.24 Â¢/kWh, hiring a competent HVAC contractor to install, maintain, and repair the heating and cooling equipment will go a long way in reducing your electricity bill. However, irrespective of how you come in contact with the contractor you intend to hire, it is important to verify their competence. You can do this by asking the following questions:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as an HVAC Contractor in the City of Dallas?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other HVAC Contractors in the City of Dallas?
- Do You Comply with the City of Dallas Building Code for HVAC Work?
- Will You Get the HVAC Permits as Required by the City of Dallas Code?
- What Kind of HVAC Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency HVAC Services in the City of Dallas?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for HVAC Contractors in the City of Dallas?
Professionals, home improvement workers, or technicians who intend to perform mechanical work such as installing, servicing, repairing, or modifying heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigerating equipment in Dallas must first obtain the appropriate license from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). License, certification, and registration types related to the aforementioned mechanical jobs include the air conditioning and refrigeration contractor license, the air conditioning and refrigeration technician registration, the air conditioning and refrigeration technician certification, and the boiler safety license. While the requirements for obtaining a specific mechanical work license may vary, applicants who intend to obtain either of the aforementioned licenses must be at least 18 years of age and must show proof of practical experience in their specific work trade. However, the minimum years of practical experience vary depending on the type of mechanical work license the applicant wishes to obtain. For example, air conditioning and refrigeration technician certification applicants must have performed 24 months of air conditioning and refrigeration-related work under the supervision of a licensed air conditioning and refrigeration contractor to be eligible for a license. Likewise, air conditioning and refrigeration contractor license applicants must have at least 36 months of practical experience in air-conditioning and refrigeration-related work under the supervision of a licensed air conditioning and refrigeration contractor in the past 48 months.
For more information about air conditioning and refrigeration licensing and certification requirements, interested persons can call (800) 803-9202. Similarly, interested persons can contact the TDLR at (800)-722-7843 to make inquiries concerning the requirements for obtaining a boiler safety license. Residents of Dallas can also use the TDLR license data search portal to confirm if the individual they intend to hire has obtained the appropriate license.
In addition to state-issued mechanical work licenses, professionals, technicians, and home improvement workers in Dallas are required to register with the city's Building Inspection Office. Operating without a certificate of registration can attract a fine of up to $2,000. To register with the Office, applicants must submit an application form including their name, address, telephone number, details of a business location, and TDLR license information in person at:
- Building Inspection Office
- Oak Cliff Municipal Center
- 320 East, Jefferson Boulevard
- Dallas, TX 75203
Note that only registered professionals are allowed to apply for permits for mechanical work. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the individual you intend to hire is registered with the Office. You can confirm your HVAC contractor or technician's registration status by calling (214) 948-4480.
Before finalizing an agreement with the individual you intend to hire for your home's heating and cooling system, it is particularly important to get and compare estimates from different HVAC contractors, as this will ensure that you pay a fair price for the work. Although the hourly price for hiring a contractor may vary due to the nature of the work, the size of the equipment you are working on, the amount of labor required to complete the job, and the HVAC contractor's experience and reputation, getting estimates from more than one HVAC contractor gives you an idea of what your project should cost on the average.
An HVAC Contractor in the City of Dallas earns an annual average wage of $47,870. The table below provides a cost comparison of the mean hourly wages for HVAC contractors in Dallas City against those of HVAC Contractors in the rest of Texas State as well as other major cities in the United States:Dallas City HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage$23.02Texas State HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage$23.73Los 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
Hiring a professional, technician, or home improvement worker that is familiar with the city's Mechanical Code to fix your home's heating and cooling system is the first step in ensuring that your project is handled professionally. The city's Mechanical Code was established to protect lives and public health through the regulation of the designs, installations, alterations, and inspections of mechanical systems that are permanently installed and utilized to provide control of environmental conditions and related processes within buildings. Some of the requirements of the Mechanical Code include the mandatory registration of anyone who intends to perform mechanical work in the city and the provision of a luminaire controlled by a switch near each piece of equipment. You can contact the Building Inspection Office at (214) 948-4480 to find out more about the requirements of the city's Mechanical Code. Note that violating any section of the Mechanical Code can attract a fine of up to $2,000. Accordingly, you should ask the individual you intend to hire if they have read the city's Mechanical Code. Do not hire a contractor or technician that is not familiar with this Code.
Per the requirements of Section 301 of the Dallas Administrative Procedure for the Construction Codes, a permit is needed to install, maintain, improve, or remove a building service equipment, including installation and repair of heating and cooling systems. Failure to obtain the appropriate permits before working on a heating or cooling system can lead to compulsory payment of investigation and permit fees and the issuance of a stop-work order from the Building Official. However, in some cases, permits are not needed to perform mechanical work. Some of these cases include:
- Replacement of any part of an appliance that does not alter its original design and complies with other applicable requirements of the Codes
- Maintenance or repair of permanent gas or solid-fuel furnaces provided there is no change in ducts, electrical, plumbing, or gas rough-in involved
- Installation of bathroom exhaust fans in single-family or duplex premises.
- Installation of kitchen exhaust fans and dryer exhaust fans in a duplex or single-family building
- Installation of a portable heating appliance, portable ventilating equipment, portable evaporative cooler, or portable comfort cooling unit
Before hiring an HVAC contractor to work on your home's heating and cooling equipment, it is important to confirm if the project will require a permit. You can confirm from the city's Building Inspection Permit Center by calling (214) 948-4480.
In Dallas, mechanical work permits are issued by the Building Inspection Permit Center. Note that applications for HVAC-related work permits are made by registered contractors, and applications can be made by submitting a completed permit application form to:
- Building Inspection Permit Center
- 320 East, Jefferson Boulevard
- Room 118
- Dallas, TX 75203
For more information concerning the requirements for obtaining a mechanical work permit, interested individuals can call (214) 948-4480.
In addition to issuing mechanical work permits, the Building Inspection Office also carries out inspections on these works through its Inspection Services Section. Upon receiving a mechanical work permit the holder of such permit can commence work on the project immediately. However, the permittee must ensure that the work is accessible and available for inspection. Common mechanical-related inspections in Dallas include rough and duct inspections and final inspections. You can schedule these inspections with the Inspection Services Section online or by calling (214) 670-5313.
Dallas professionals, technicians, and contractors offer a variety of HVAC-related services such as repair of refrigerant leaks, installation of air conditioners, repair and alteration of boilers, and general maintenance. However, it is always good to confirm whether the individual you intend to hire is competent enough to work on your home's heating and cooling system. This is very important because HVAC-related jobs involve different equipment with each having its peculiarities. You can confirm if a contractor is right for your job by asking about their years of practice. You can also ask for references, including contact information of past clients for further inquiries on the contractor's professionalism and expertise. More so, you can ask the contractor if they have obtained any relevant certification or education in their area of specialization.
Once you have confirmed the contractor's qualification and experience, the next step is to find out how much contractors charge for the type of service you need. This will ensure that you do not pay more than the average market price for your project. Listed below are average cost estimates for common HVAC services in Dallas:Air conditioner installation$6,000 - $9,000 (for two - three-ton units and new ductwork installed)Air conditioner installation$3,500 -$4, 800 (for two-three-ton units using existing ductwork)Air conditioner installation$10,000 - $14, 800 (for five-ton units and new ductwork installed)Air conditioner installation$8,000 -$12, 800 (for five-ton units using existing ductwork)Air conditioner repair$78 -$100 (for central ac tune-up)Air conditioner repair$80 - $250 (plus parts)Central air purifier installation$864 - $1,300 (for standard grade unit in a typical two-story home)Central air purifier repair$150 - $360 per hour (labor only)Electric baseboard/wall heater installation$215 - $350 per heaterForced air furnace installation$1,200 - $2,300 (for 80,000 - 100,000 btu electric furnace)Forced air furnace installation$1,300 - $4,500 (for 80,000 - 100,000 btu gas furnace)Forced air furnace tuneup - $110 - $150House humidifier installation$348 - $420 (for flow-through mid-grade central humidifier)Thermostat installation$118 - $135 per hour (for mid-grade programmable thermostat)Window air conditioner unit installation$207 - $241 (for 5,000 btu window unit
HVAC contractors in Dallas offer a variety of emergency services including fixing refrigerant leaks and frozen evaporator coil, replacement of bad heat exchangers, and correcting fan malfunctions. Once you notice a problem in your home's heating and cooling system, you should contact a competent and qualified contractor to carry out the necessary inspection and repair. Carrying out a prompt and quality emergency repair on your home's heating, air-conditioning, refrigerating, and ventilating equipment will improve the equipment's energy efficiency and overall performance. However, improper installation and repair of heating or cooling equipment can reduce the energy efficiency of the equipment by 30 percent, consequently leading to high and unnecessary electricity charges. Accordingly, when searching for a contractor to handle your HVAC emergency, it is important to confirm that the individual has the requisite skills and experience to do the job. You should also confirm the contractor's license and registration status before signing an agreement.
You can find competent technicians near you by using online directories provided by trade associations like the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association. You can also find good technicians by exploring third-party websites like Better Business Bureau, Google Review, and Yelp. Regardless of how you come in contact with your technician, it is always crucial to confirm the individual's license status. You can confirm an HVAC technician's license status by utilizing the TDLR license data search portal.
In Texas, contractors are required to meet different insurance requirements to be eligible to work anywhere in the state. For example, air conditioning and refrigeration contractors are required to maintain commercial general liability insurance as long as their license is active. Likewise, general contractors with employees are required to maintain workers' compensation insurance with the Division of Workers' Compensation of the Texas Department of Insurance. Before you hire a contractor to handle your HVAC project, it is important to confirm if the individual is insured. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Texas construction industry recorded 123 cases of fatal work injuries, while installation, maintenance, and repair occupations recorded 42 cases of fatal work injuries. Hiring a contractor that is insured significantly protects you against financial liabilities that may arise as a result of the occurrence of bodily injury, death, or property damage during your HVAC work.
You can confirm if your contractor is insured by requesting their insurance certificate and contacting the insurance company that issued the certificate. You can also confirm your contractor's workers' compensation insurance by calling the Division of Workers' Compensation at (888) 488-2667.
According to the United States Census Bureau, citizens of the country, including residents of the City of Dallas, spent over $796 billion on residential construction projects in November 2021 alone. This flow of money has made the niche of residential construction and home improvement an area of interest for fraudulent contractors. As such, you must always be on the lookout for possible scammers when searching for good HVAC contractors in Dallas. According to the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, more than 125,000 consumer complaints, including home repair scam complaints, were filed in Texas from December 2018 to December 2021. During this period, a general contractor was arrested for stealing more than $300,000 in home repair and improvement scams from 6 people across Texas. One of the victims reported that the contractor collected money to install six air conditioning units but never got the job done.
Some common signs that you are dealing with a fraudulent contractor or con artist are:
- The contractor makes low bids and tries to pressure you into making immediate repairs
- The contractor is not willing to provide proof of licensure
- The contractor tries to make you sign a contract without giving you adequate time to review the contract
- The contractor insists on cash payment only
- The contractor refuses to provide proof of insurance coverage
- The contractor does not have a physical business location
- The contractor claims to have leftover materials from previous work they did in your neighborhood
You can protect yourself against the aforementioned scam methods when hiring a professional or technician to do your HVAC work in Dallas by taking the following steps:
- Ensure that your contractor is licensed and registered. You can use the TDLR license data search portal to confirm if the individual you intend to hire has obtained the appropriate license for your job. Similarly, you can confirm your contractor's registration status by calling the Building Inspection Office at (214) 948-4480
- Always compare estimates from different HVAC contractors before hiring one
- Ask for references and check these references to confirm the contractor's claim
- Do not hire a transient contractor or anyone that does not have a verifiable business address
- Demand a written contract and do not sign until you fully understand all the terms. You can engage a solicitor in this regard
- Be wary of anyone requesting full payment upfront or only cash payment
- Always make sure that your contractor is insured. Be wary of anyone that refuses to provide proof of insurance coverage
- Do not make full payment except the job is completed and inspected
- Always keep records of documents, including contracts, warranties, and payment receipts related to your project
If you are the victim of an HVAC-related scam, you can report it to the Consumer Protection Unit of the City of Dallas Department of Code Compliance by calling (214) 948-4351. You can also file a complaint against the HVAC contractor with the Consumer Protection Division of the Texas Office of the Attorney General. This complaint can be filed online or by mailing a completed consumer complaint form to:
- Office of the Attorney General
- Consumer Protection Division
- P.O. Box 12548
- Austin, TX 78711 - 2548
Finally, if you seek full monetary compensation from the contractor, you can consult your attorney and file a small claims lawsuit against the HVAC contractor at the Dallas County Justice of Peace Courts, Precinct 1. Note that you cannot request more than $10,000 as compensation in a small claims lawsuit. For more guidance on taking legal action, you should contact a qualified attorney.