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Licensed HVAC Contractor in Seattle, WA

How to Hire a Good HVAC Contractor in Seattle

The average cost of electricity for households in Seattle is currently 11.7 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), but heating and cooling energy consumption make up almost half of the total utility bill. Regular equipment maintenance, energy-efficient upgrades with proper installation, and applying the recommended insulation, air sealing, and thermostat settings can save about 30 percent on your energy bill while reducing environmental emissions. HVAC system maintenance, repair, and installation are best left to qualified professionals to ensure optimum efficiency. Therefore, when looking for HVAC contractors near you, it is advisable to do your due diligence to confirm the technician is competent to complete your job. You can do this by asking the following questions:

  • Are You Licensed to Practice as an HVAC Contractor in the City of Seattle?
  • How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other HVAC Contractors in the City of Seattle?
  • Do You Comply with the City of Seattle Building Code for HVAC Work?
  • Will You Get the HVAC Permits as Required by the City of Seattle Code?
  • What Kind of HVAC Services Do You Offer?
  • Do You Offer Emergency HVAC Services in the City of Seattle?
  • Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for HVAC Contractors in the City of Seattle?

Questions to Ask Before Hiring an HVAC Contractor in the City of Seattle

  1. Are You Licensed to Practice as an HVAC Contractor in the City of Seattle?

    Individuals who wish to engage in the business of installation, repair, alteration, servicing, and operation of refrigeration and air conditioning systems in Seattle must be duly licensed by the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections. Carrying out these types of work without the required license is a violation that attracts civil penalties not exceeding $500 per day.

    The city's Department of Construction & Inspection issues refrigeration operating engineer license, journey refrigeration mechanic license, and refrigeration and air conditioning contractor's license to interested parties. For refrigeration and air conditioning contractors and journey refrigeration mechanics license applicants, they can obtain any of the following three classes of licenses:

    • Class A -- Covering refrigeration machines using only sulfur dioxide and methyl chloride
    • Class B -- Covering refrigerating machines using all other refrigerants
    • Class C -- Covering all refrigerating machines using refrigerants included in Classes A and B

    Applicants for any of the licenses mentioned above must pass a licensing examination to determine the qualifications for their desired license. Note that journey refrigeration mechanics applying for other types of licenses must furnish the Department with proof of three years of full-time experience as a journey refrigeration mechanic. Alternatively, such applicants must provide proof of training for at least one year in a recognized technology school. Once applicants pass the licensing examination, they can apply for the relevant licenses on a form prescribed by the Director of the Department. The application must be accompanied by a receipt showing payment of the applicable fees. For assistance with obtaining a license and other certification-related inquiries, applicants can contact the Department of Construction & Inspection at (206) 684-5174. To verify if your intended HVAC contractor has been duly licensed, you can use the Find Trade Licenses by Last Name platform provided by the city's Department of Construction & Inspection.

    In addition to city-specific licensing requirements, all HVAC contractors must register with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). The contractor must also obtain a mandatory certification per Section 608 of the Clean Air Act to carry out repairs, service, or maintenance of any equipment that contains refrigerants.

  2. How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other HVAC Contractors in the City of Seattle?

    How much HVAC contractors charge in Seattle is dependent on different factors, including the nature and scope of the HVAC project, cost of materials and labor intensity required for the project, and the HVAC contractor's level of experience and qualification. This is why it is best to get bids and estimates from at least three HVAC contractors. This helps you compare prices, pick the most suitable HVAC contractor for your budget, and enables you to filter out any contractor trying to overcharge above the average market price.

    An HVAC Contractor in the City of Seattle earns an annual average wage of $72,860. The table below provides a cost comparison of the mean hourly wages for HVAC contractors in Seattle against those of HVAC Contractors in the rest of Washington as well as other major cities in the United States:

    Seattle HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage
    $35.03
    Washington HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage
    $31.34
    Los Angeles HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage
    $31.31
    Chicago HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage
    $29.31
    Houston HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage
    $26.40
    Detroit HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage
    $24.55
    Philadelphia HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage
    $28.80

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

  3. Do You Comply with the City of Seattle Building Code for HVAC Work?

    The 2018 Seattle Mechanical Code regulates the erection, installation, alteration, repair, relocation, replacement, or maintenance of any heating, ventilating, cooling, and refrigeration systems, including incinerators or other miscellaneous heat-producing appliances in Seattle. The Code also provides the minimum standard to safeguard health, property, and public safety when using HVAC appliances or equipment within the city. This makes it necessary for you to ensure that your intended HVAC contractor is conversant with and understands the city's Mechanical Code. Besides ensuring your HVAC work is safely done, non-compliance with the Code during your project attracts city-imposed sanctions and penalties usually determined by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections. In some cases, homeowners may be jointly liable with their contractors for this non-compliance. You can direct all code-related queries to the city's Department of Construction and Inspections at (206) 684-8850.

  4. Will You Get the HVAC Permits as Required by the City of Seattle Code?

    The Seattle Mechanical Code requires project owners to obtain a mechanical permit before the installation, alteration, repairs, or replacement of mechanical equipment like heating, venting, and air conditioning. The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) handles mechanical permit applications and issues mechanical permits upon due review and approval.

    Homeowners or their hired HVAC contractors can apply for mechanical permits in the City of Seattle, and such applications can be made via the Seattle Services Portal. Users of this portal must either sign in to an existing account or create a new account before they can utilize the portal. If the permit application is for a Mechanical STFI Permit and Mechanical Plan Review Permit, the applicant must upload all required documents when submitting their application. If the planned project is complex, applicants can request a pre-submittal conference online through the Seattle Services Portal. Once the application has been completed and all necessary documents uploaded, applicants can pay the applicable fees, which are usually calculated based on the HVAC project's value. If the Department approves the permit, the applicant will be notified to print the permits via the portal. Such permits must be displayed at all times in a visible location on the project site. At different stages of an HVAC project, permittees must schedule an inspection. Inspections can either be scheduled online via the Seattle Services Portal or by calling the 24-hour automated inspection request line at (206) 684-8900 or the SDCI's contact customer support at (206) 684-8950.

    You can contact the SDCI at (206) 684-8850 for more information on the permitting and inspection process. Alternatively, you can submit your queries online.

  5. What Kind of HVAC Services Do You Offer?

    Before hiring HVAC contractors in the City of Seattle, it is necessary to ensure that the contractor has the proper experience and skillsets to provide the services you need. HVAC contractors offer a variety of services, including installation, emergency, maintenance, and repair services. Note that some of these contractors specialize in certain HVAC work. For instance, some contractors carry out only repair work on HVAC systems, while some have expertise in installation and repair services. As such, before finalizing the work contract, ensure you confirm your intended HVAC contractor can carry out the job effectively and how much they charge for their services.

    Provided below are average cost estimates for common HVAC services in Seattle:

    Air conditioner installation
    $4,113 - $5,413 (for two-three ton unit)
    Air conditioner repair
    $95 - $109
    Window A/C unit installation
    $259 - $293 (for 5,000 btu window unit)
    Whole house humidifier installation
    $425 - $501 (for mid-grade central humidifier (flow-through)
    Central air purifier installation
    $1,039 - $1,517
    Central air purifier repair
    $85 - $125
    Thermostat installation
    $144 - $164
    Boiler installation
    $2,277 - $3,082 (for 80-120 mbtu/hour gas boiler)
    Forced air furnace installation
    $4,500 - $25,000 (for 80,000-100,000 btu gas furnace)
    Forced air furnace repair
    $109 - $144
  6. Do You Offer Emergency HVAC Services in the City of Seattle?

    Certain circumstances may require you to hire the services of an HVAC contractor to carry out emergency repairs on your HVAC system. These issues include malfunctioning fans and heat exchangers, refrigerant leaks, restricted or poor quality airflow, water damage, and leaking ducts. It is advisable to fix these problems urgently as leaving them unattended can make your home inhabitable and increase energy loss, which automatically raises your energy bills. To fix these problems, you will need the services of a qualified and duly licensed HVAC contractor. You can find licensed and duly qualified HVAC contractors near you for emergency services by utilizing a third-party review website like the Better Business Bureau. You can also find HVAC contractors via online directories provided by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association.

    Nonetheless, it is advisable to verify the licensing status of any HVAC contractor found on these websites by utilizing the Find Trade Licenses by Last Name platform provided by the city's Department of Construction & Inspection.

  7. Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for HVAC Contractors in the City of Seattle?

    According to data published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2020, over 4,000 work-related fatalities were recorded across the country. These fatalities included HVAC contractors. This is why you need to hire HVAC contractors that maintain general liability and workers' compensation insurance policies because these protect you from incurring financial liability for any injuries or damage that may occur during your project. Nonetheless, note that any HVAC contractor with a registered business in the State of Washington, including in the City of Seattle, must maintain a general liability insurance policy and surety bond. Contractors with employees are further required to maintain workers' compensation insurance.

    You can confirm a contractor's insurance status by requesting a copy of their insurance certificate and contracting the issuing insurance provider. To confirm if a contractor has active workers' compensation insurance you can contact the Seattle Department of Workers Compensation Unit at (206) 684-7855.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad HVAC Contractor in the City of Seattle

Recently, there have been reports of several unscrupulous HVAC contractors going about trying to scam unsuspecting residents in the Seattle City area. For example, in June 2020, a contractor in Washington was ordered to pay back $11,000 to 10 victims after swindling them of thousands of dollars. This scam was done across different counties, including King County. In most cases, this contractor collected money for home remodeling projects but either never started the projects or never finished them. Besides absconding with part or full payments as in this case, other fraudulent techniques utilized by these scammers include:

  • Reluctance to obtain required permits.
  • Pressuring homeowners into making immediate repairs or needlessly changing the specifications of their HVAC systems.
  • Insisting on cash payments.

You can largely avoid being scammed by these fraudsters by taking the following steps:

  • Request for references from your intended HVAC contractor, and be sure to contact several of them to inquire about their work review.
  • Check to see if your intended HVAC contractor is duly licensed by utilizing the Find Trade Licenses by Last Name platform provided by the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspection.
  • Make sure that the contractor is adequately insured.
  • Ensure that all necessary permits are obtained for the project.
  • Get bids and estimates from at least three different HVAC contractors for comparison. This will help to determine if the contractor's charge rates are ridiculously high or low.
  • Ensure you have a written agreement with the contractor. You can engage the services of a solicitor in this regard, especially for large-scale projects.
  • Minimally make cash payments and avoid making full payments upfront. It is much better to make payments with credit cards or checks, as you can document payment histories. Also, only make full payment for the work after it has been completed as agreed.
  • Retain copies of documents related to your projects like contracts, receipts, warranties, and invoices.

If you have a complaint against a contractor in Seattle for fraud or unethical business practices, you can report to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries by completing an online form. You can also report to the Washington State Office of the Attorney General by completing an online complaint form or by completing and mailing a printable complaint form to:

  • Office of the Attorney General
  • Consumer Protection Division
  • 800 5th Avenue,
  • Suite 2000
  • Seattle, WA 98104-3188