Get Quotes from Top HVAC Contractors in New York City, NY
Questions to Ask Before Hiring an HVAC Contractor in New York City
Conventional heating and cooling systems are responsible for 37 percent of energy consumption in New York State and electricity rates in the New York City area are currently more than 56 percent above the national average. Inefficient heating and cooling systems may further increase your energy bill by up to 30 percent. Hence, hiring a good HVAC contractor to handle the installation, maintenance, and repair works is an effective way of reducing this high consumption.
When searching for HVAC contractors to work on your home's air conditioning or heating systems in the city, it is always a good idea to do your due diligence before finalizing any hiring arrangements. You can do this by asking the following questions:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as an HVAC Contractor in New York City?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other HVAC Contractors in New York City?
- Do You Comply with the New York City Building Code for HVAC Work?
- Will You Get the HVAC Permits as Required by the New York City Code?
- What Kind of HVAC Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency HVAC Services in New York City?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for HVAC Contractors in New York City?
- How to File a Complaint Against a Bad HVAC Contractor in New York City
Are You Licensed to Practice as an HVAC Contractor in New York City?
Confirming the licensing status of your HVAC contractor is the first step to take in ensuring that this individual is the right person for the job at hand. Per Section 608 of the Clean Air Act, individuals that repair, service, or maintain any equipment that contains refrigerants are statutorily required to undergo mandatory certification before doing so. As such, while New York City does not issue a unique contractor license to HVAC contractors that wish to operate within its jurisdiction, these individuals are typically required to obtain one or more licenses and certifications from various city agencies. These include the High Pressure Boiler Operating Engineer License and the Oil Burner Equipment Installer License issued by the NYC Department of Buildings.
Other licenses that HVAC contractors in New York City may require include the Refrigeration Operating Engineer Certificate of Qualification issued by the NYC Fire Department and the Home Improvement Contractor License issued by the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. The specific requirements for obtaining these licenses and certifications differ, but they generally involve the applicants being at least 18 years old, having previous experience in the license or certification category that is being applied for, and passing a licensing or certification examination.
Under Title 28 Chapter 2 of the NYC Administrative Code, performing HVAC-related work in New York City without an appropriate license is considered illegal and is punishable by both civil and criminal penalties. These penalties include fines of up to $25,000 per violation, imprisonment of up to one year, or a combination of these civil and criminal penalties.
You can contact the Licensing and Exams Unit of the NYC Department of Buildings at (212) 393-2259 to make inquiries on the licensing and certification requirements for HVAC contractors in the city. You can also find out if your preferred HVAC contractor meets these requirements via the aforementioned number or by utilizing this department's Skilled Trades Licensees/General Contractors/Registrant Search online platform. Queries related to HVAC contractor licensing requirements can also be directed to the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) via phone numbers 311 or (212) 639-9675. Likewise, DCWP-issued home improvement contractor licenses can also be verified online via the department's license search platform.
How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other HVAC Contractors in New York City?
Getting estimates from more than one HVAC contractor is a good way to ensure that you pay a fair price for your project. However, it should be noted that the specific prices that HVAC contractors in New York City charge are largely dependent on several variables. These include the nature and scope of the HVAC project, the cost of materials that this project may require, the HVAC contractor's level of expertise and local reputation, as well as the cost of pulling the necessary permits for the job. Regardless of this, by comparing and contrasting the estimates that you receive from at least three HVAC contractors near you, you can ensure that you do not end up paying way above the average market rate for your intended project.
An HVAC Contractor in New York City earns an annual average wage of $67,780. The table below provides a cost comparison of the mean hourly wages for HVAC contractors in New York City against those of HVAC Contractors in the rest of New York State as well as other major cities in the United States:
Do You Comply with the New York City Building Code for HVAC Work?
Making sure that your intended HVAC contractor is conversant with the New York City Mechanical Code is an important requirement when searching for HVAC contractors near you. This code regulates and controls the design, installation, alteration, maintenance, inspection, operation, and use of mechanical systems that provide control of environmental conditions and other related processes in buildings and property located within New York City. These mechanical systems include, but are not limited to, air conditioning systems, ventilation and exhaust systems, boilers, heaters, and pressure vessels, and refrigeration systems.
The New York City Mechanical Code is implemented to ensure the health and safety of New Yorkers and their property in relation to the use of mechanical systems. As such, it is important that your HVAC contractor not only understands the provisions and requirements of this code but also complies with them when working on your project. These requirements generally include obtaining permits before commencing any work and making sure that the completed work is duly inspected by the appropriate authorities. Failing to comply with these requirements can lead to city-imposed sanctions and penalties. You can contact the NYC Department of Building's Customer Service Unit at (212) 393-2550 to get information on the code requirements for your specific HVAC-related project or to direct any code-related queries that you may have.
Will You Get the HVAC Permits as Required by the New York City Code?
As stipulated by the New York City Mechanical Code, a permit is typically required for any HVAC work that is done in the city. However, permit exemptions may be made for some mechanical works, such as emergency work, minor alterations and repairs, and work done by public utility companies or corporations.
Mechanical work permits are issued by the NYC Department of Buildings and they are only issued to HVAC contractors that have been duly licensed and registered by this department. However, if the HVAC work involves the renovation or alteration of a one, two, three, or four-family home or an individual apartment unit, then these contractors must also possess a home improvement license issued by the city's Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. Mechanical work permit applications are made online via the city's DOB Now: Build platform. Depending on the scope of the project, permit applicants may also be required to file construction plans and submit other necessary documents before mechanical work permits can be issued. These documents typically include proof of active and current licensing and insurance as well as proof of payment of any unpaid application fees, requests for waivers of penalties, stop-work orders, or violations where applicable. Note that construction plans can only be filed by a New York State-licensed professional engineer or registered architect. Interested parties can utilize the NYC Department of Building's mechanical systems resources webpage to get information and assistance on submitting mechanical work permit applications via its DOB Now: Build platform.
After the requested mechanical work permits have been issued, statutorily required inspections may be conducted at various stages to ensure that the HVAC work is being done in compliance with the city's mechanical code. You can contact the NYC Department of Buildings at (212) 566-5000 to direct queries related to its mechanical work permitting and inspection process. You can also direct these queries to any of the following NYC Department of Buildings borough offices near you:Bronx Borough Office
1932 Arthur Avenue
Bronx, NY 10457
Phone: (718) 960-4720
Brooklyn Borough Office
210 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: (718) 802-3723
Manhattan Borough Office
New York, NY 10007
Phone: (212) 323-7287
Queens Borough Office
120-55 Queens Boulevard
Kew Gardens, NY 11424
Phone: (718) 286-8350
Staten Island Borough Office
10 Richmond Terrace
Staten Island, NY 10301
Phone: (718) 420-5418
In-person queries can also be made to these offices between the hours of 8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays.
What Kind of HVAC Services Do You Offer?
When searching for HVAC contractors in New York City, it is important to make sure that the contractor you end up with has the proper skill set to provide the service that you require. HVAC work can be broadly grouped under four areas, namely installation services, maintenance services, repair services, and emergency services. While many HVAC contractors are qualified to provide various HVAC-related services under more than one of these areas, some contractors may decide to specialize in a specific area of HVAC work and hone their skills there. Therefore, before concluding any agreements with HVAC contractors near you, it is advisable to confirm that these contractors specialize in performing the specific type of HVAC work that you need done. Once you have confirmed this, it is also a good idea to find out how much these contractors charge for their services. Provided below are average cost estimates for common HVAC services in New York City:
Do You Offer Emergency HVAC Services in New York City?
In some situations, your reason for searching for an HVAC contractor near you may be to handle an unexpected HVAC-related problem. Common examples of these types of problems include broken thermostats, malfunctioning fans and heat exchangers, and refrigerant leaks. Ignoring these types of problems not only makes your home uncomfortable and increasingly inhabitable but also leads to energy wastage, which in turn invariably increases your utility bill. With residents of New York City paying an average price of 22.6 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity, it is necessary to fix HVAC-related problems as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary utility expenses. However, while these problems should be attended to as speedily as possible, it is also important to make sure that the HVAC contractor you employ to solve the problem is licensed and experienced enough to perform the job. To this end, you can find licensed and duly qualified emergency HVAC contractors near you by utilizing a variety of online resources. These include reputable third-party review websites like the Better Business Bureau and online directories provided by trade associations like the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association.
Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for HVAC Contractors in New York City?
According to data published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7900 non-fatal occupational injuries were recorded amongst HVAC contractors in 2020. Hiring an HVAC contractor that is properly insured ensures that you are not held liable for any unforeseen injuries that may occur during your project. Under Section 101-08 of the Rules of the City of New York, all licensed contractors that operate in New York City must maintain general liability coverage of at least $1 million per occurrence. These contractors are also required to have workers' compensation and disability benefits insurance where applicable. Note that specific general liability coverage that HVAC contractors are required to have is dependent on the nature and scope of the project that they are working on. As such, it is a good idea to contact the NYC Department of Buildings at (212) 566-5000 to get information on the specific contractor insurance requirements for your HVAC project. You can also estimate these requirements by utilizing this department's Project Specific General Liability Insurance Tool. Finally, when you have determined these requirements, you should always request proof of insurance from your intended HVAC contractor and authenticate it with the relevant insurance provider.
When looking for good HVAC contractors in New York City, it is important to remain alert and be on the lookout for possible scammers. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, the amount of money spent on home improvements in New York is at least 45 percent more than that spent in other areas in the country. Unfortunately, this large home improvement industry attracts unscrupulous contractors and con artists that are only interested in fraudulently obtaining money from New York City homeowners. According to the New York State Attorney General's Office, more than 900 home improvement and construction-related scams were reported by New Yorkers in 2019 alone. In that same year, it was reported that a contractor in Brooklyn had been indicted after being accused of fraudulently obtaining $700,000 from a couple in the city that were looking to remodel their home. According to the report, this contractor continuously requested cash for phony permits and environment reviews, and also fraudulently expanded the scope of the home improvement work beyond what the couple had initially planned.
Some common signs that you are dealing with an unscrupulous contractor or scam artist are:
- The contractor makes unsolicited HVAC repair offers
- The contractor tries to pressure you into making immediate repairs
- The contractor tries to pressure you into signing a contract without giving you time to properly review this contract
- The contractor claims to have leftover materials from a job that was allegedly completed within your neighborhood
- The contractor does not have an established local business name or local contact information
- The contractor insists on cash payments
You can take certain precautionary steps when hiring HVAC contractors in New York City to protect yourself against contractor scams. These steps include:
- Always make sure that your contractor is duly licensed. You can contact the NYC Department of Building and Department of Consumer and Worker Protection at (212) 393-2259 and (212) 639-9675 respectively to verify the licensing status of HVAC contractors in the city
- Always ask for references and check these references. Do not hire contractors that cannot provide you with verifiable references
- Make sure that the contractor is properly insured
- Be wary of contractors that do not have verifiable local addresses and contact numbers
- Make sure that all necessary permits are obtained for the project
- Get and compare estimates from at least two to three different contractors
- Demand a written contract. Make sure that this contract details the scope of the project, the type and quality of materials to be used, start and estimated completion dates for the project, and payment arrangements
- Make sure that you read and understand any contract that you intend to sign before doing so.
- Do not sign contracts that have blank spaces
- Do not make cash payments or full payments upfront
- Retain copies of documents related to your project. These include contracts, receipts, and warranties
- Inspect the completed work and make sure that it was done per the project's contract before making any final payments
You can report HVAC contractor scams that occur in New York City to the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection by calling 311. You can also take further action by consulting with an attorney and filing a lawsuit against the HVAC contractor in question at an appropriate New York City Court.