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Get Quotes from Top HVAC Contractors in Philadelphia, PA

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

Households in Philadelphia pay an average of 15.6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity - this is 8.3 percent higher than the national average of 14.4 cents per kWh. Considering that your heating and cooling equipment energy consumption makes up nearly half of your electricity bill, and improper installation and leakages can reduce your system efficiency by up to 30 percent, it is recommended to maintain your system regularly to save cost. Any good HVAC contractor near you can help achieve this. However, ensure the professional is the best fit for the job by asking the following questions:

Are You Licensed to Practice as an HVAC Contractor in the City of Philadelphia?

Individuals interested in carrying out HVAC work in Philadelphia must obtain an operating license from the City of Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections (DLI) via its Permits and Licenses Center. Failure to obtain the requisite license before offering work in Philadelphia is a class II offense that attracts civil and criminal penalties, including fines up to $1,000 or 90 days imprisonment.

The City of Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections issues three types of HVAC licenses, and each comes with different requirements. These includes:

Sheet Metal Apprentice License: applicants must register for an apprenticeship program and serve under a registered sheet metal technician to be eligible to install, maintain, and service sheet metal systems used in HVAC systems. Applicants can apply online using eCLIPSE, and if they need help filing their form, they can schedule a virtual appointment. Alternatively, the applicants can book an appointment to visit the Permit and License Center in person at:

Permit and License Center
1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
MSB, Public Service Concourse
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Office hours: 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday

Applicants should note that they must pay non-refundable application fees before their license application can be processed.

Sheet Metal Systems Technician: applicants need a sheet metal technician license to install, maintain, and service sheet metal systems used in HVAC systems. Applicants must pass the Sheet Metal Technician examination within a year of submitting the application and successfully finish an apprenticeship program. Accordingly, applicants are required to have a minimum of 8,000 hours of documented practical experience or 800 hours of classroom, shop, or related instruction in the installation, maintenance, and other servicing of sheet metal systems. Applicants can apply online using eCLIPSE or book an appointment for in-person service at the address provided above. Payment of a non-refundable licensing fee is also mandatory.

Engineer License: applicants obtain these licenses if they will be maintaining steam or high-temperature hot water boilers, steam engines, portable or stationary hoisting engines, or refrigeration machinery. These licenses have two categories that apply to HVAC contractors, and it includes:

  • Engineer Grade A license: For steam boiler, stationary, refrigeration engineers, and fireman
  • Engineer Grade B license: For refrigeration only

To obtain an engineer license, applicants must be 18 years old and pass the Philadelphia engineer examination within one year of applying. In addition, they must provide proof of having completed two years as an assistant engineer or helper documented through federal tax records and written recommendations from two licensed engineers. Applicants can book an appointment for in-person service at the above address or apply online using eCLIPSE. Applicants must note that they will also be required to pay non-refundable license application fees.

It is also important to note that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), by section 608 of the Clean Air Act, requires individuals carrying out HVAC work to earn a technician certification. For licensing and certification-related questions, you can contact the Philadelphia Department of Licensing and Inspections by submitting an online request to 311 or call 311. If you live outside Philadelphia, you can contact the DLI at (215) 686-8686.

Residents of Philadelphia can also utilize the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections L&I's online platform to verify the licensing status of their intended HVAC professional. To confirm any disciplinary actions ongoing against your intended professional, you can check the city's DLI suspended contractor's directory.

How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other HVAC Contractors in the City of Philadelphia?

How much HVAC contractors charge in Philadelphia is dependent on the nature and scope of the work, the permits and cost of materials required for the projects, and most significantly, the skillset and experience of the HVAC contractor. Accordingly, it is best to get quotes and estimates from several contractors near you before finalizing the work contract with your intended contractor. This helps with picking the most suitable HVAC contractor for your budget and largely protects you from falling victim to deceptive and unscrupulous contractors with unreasonable service charges.

An HVAC Contractor in the City of Philadelphia earns an annual average wage of $59,900. The table below provides a cost comparison of the mean hourly wages for HVAC contractors in Philadelphia against those of HVAC Contractors in the rest of Pennsylvania as well as other major cities in the United States:

Philadelphia HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage
$28.80
Pennsylvania HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage
$26.32
New York City HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage
$32.58
Chicago HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage
$29.31
Houston HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage
$26.40
Detroit HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage
$24.55
Phoenix HVAC Contractors Mean Hourly Wage
$24.07
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Comply with the City of Philadelphia Building Code for HVAC Work?

All mechanical projects in Philadelphia that involve the design, installation, maintenance, alteration, and inspection of mechanical systems are regulated by the city's Mechanical Code. The purpose of the Code is to provide minimum safety standards for the safeguard of life, health, property, and public welfare of the residents of Philadelphia when using mechanical systems in the city. As such, when hiring HVAC contractors for your projects, you must confirm they are well versed with the city's Mechanical Code. This is to ensure that they can comply with all the relevant provisions of the Code applicable to your project. Failing to adhere to the Code is an offense that attracts varying penalties like the payment of a fine or imprisonment. You can direct your Code-related queries regarding the city's Mechanical Code to the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections by calling 311.

Will You Get the HVAC Permits as Required by the City of Philadelphia Code?

Mechanical permits are required to install devices that the Philadelphia Mechanical Code regulates. Projects that require the installation of mechanical systems like heating, venting, and air conditioning, require the homeowners or HVAC contractor to apply for permits from the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections via its Permits and Licenses Center.

If the applicant's intended project does not require submitting plans for review, they can apply for EZ permits by completing an application online using eCLIPSE. If an applicant needs assistance with applying for this permit, they can schedule a virtual appointment. Alternatively, applicants can book an appointment to obtain a permit application form and pay the applicable fees in person at:

Permit and License Center
1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
MSB, Public Service Concourse
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Office hours: 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays

Where the project requires plans for review, applicants must attach the requisite plans when completing the permit application form online or they can also book an appointment to submit the obtain a permit application form, as well as submit the requisite plans and pay the applicable fees in person at the address provided above. Whether submitting in person or online, applicants must confirm that the intended project is within the boundaries of Philadelphia as established by the Office of Property Assessment (OPA). Applicants must also confirm if the project needs any of the relevant pre-approvals from the following institutions:

  • Historical Commission approval if the intended project involves a historical property.
  • Plan approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Health for healthcare and medical facilities.
  • Streets plan review from the Department of Streets if encroaching in the city's right of way.
  • An installation permit from the Department of Public Health - Air Management Services (AMS) if the work involves the installation of an underground or enclosed parking garage.

Once the permits are issued, permit holders must contact the local inspection office online or at (215) 255-4040 before the HVAC work commences to put them on notice that the permits have been issued. The stages where inspections are required are usually noted on the permit. Upon successful completion of all required inspections, a certificate of approval will be issued to the project owner. For more information regarding the permitting process and requirements, you can contact the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections by calling 311.

What Kind of HVAC Services Do You Offer?

When hiring HVAC contractors in Philadelphia, one of the most important things to look out for is to confirm the professional has the requisite skills to handle the work. HVAC contractors offer various services to city residents, including installation, maintenance, repairs, and replacement of mechanical systems like heating, venting, and air conditioners. As such, it is best to confirm from your intended HVAC contractors if they specialize in your planned project and how much their service costs.

Listed below are average cost estimates for common HVAC services in Philadelphia :

Air conditioner installation
$4,800 - $6,100 (for two-three ton unit)
Air conditioner repair
$96 - $110
Window A/C unit installation
$260 - $295 (for 5,000 btu window unit)
Whole house humidifier installation
$427 - $503 (for mid-grade central humidifier (flow-through)
Central air purifier installation
$1,092 - $1,504
Thermostat installation
$144- $165
Boiler installation
$5,400 - $7,200 (for 40-80 mbtu/hour gas boiler)
Boiler installation
$5,600 - $7,550 (for 80-120 mbtu/hour gas boiler) )
Boiler repair
$99 - $1,000 (per hour)
Forced air furnace installation
$3,450.00 - $4,600 (for 80,000-100,000 btu electric furnace)
Forced air furnace installation
$2,587 - $4,350 (for 80,000-100,000 btu gas furnace)
Forced air furnace repair
$110 - $144

Do You Offer Emergency HVAC Services in the City of Philadelphia?

Certain unexpected HVAC problems typically result in situations that make you uncomfortable or pose potential damage to your home and its occupants, which may require emergency attention. HVAC issues like refrigerant leaks, malfunctioning fans, heat exchangers, broken thermostats, and water leaks from your air conditioners require emergency attention. You must retain the services of a duly licensed and experienced HVAC contractor to fix your emergency problems immediately after you detect them. DIY approaches may complicate the problem, cause further damage, and possibly spike your energy bills. Such a situation should be best avoided, considering the City of Philadelphia's average electricity bill is 8.3 percent higher than the national average. You can use online directories like the Find a Contractor portal provided by the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association and the Contractor Locator platform provided by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America to find HVAC contractors near you. You can also use third-party platforms like the Better Business Bureau website to check the contact information of these HVAC contractors and their work reviews. However, it is advisable to verify the licensing status of the HVAC contractors found on these platforms by utilizing the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections L&I's online platform.

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for HVAC Contractors in the City of Philadelphia?

Hiring an insured HVAC contractor is important considering how susceptible these contractors are to work-related injuries like slips, falls, and trips. In 2020, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 7,900 nonfatal work-related injuries amongst HVAC contractors in the country. The City of Philadelphia mandates every HVAC contractor in the city to possess a Certificate of Insurance that reflects the following insurance:

  • General liability insurance: $500,000 per occurrence
  • Auto liability insurance: $300,000 per occurrence
  • Worker's Compensation insurance if they have an employee:
    • $100,000 for each accident
    • $100,000 each employee
    • $500,000 policy limit

This makes it necessary for you to request a copy of any intended HVAC contractor's Certificate of Insurance before retaining their services on your intended projects. It is in your best interest to ask for this, as this protects you from incurring financial liabilities if bodily injuries or property damage were to occur during your HVAC project. You can take further steps by verifying the certificate from the issuing insurance company, or you can contact the city's Department of Licenses and Inspection by calling 311 to confirm the insurance certificate.

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

Consumers in Philadelphia are advised to always ensure due diligence before hiring HVAC contractors in the city. This is because many unscrupulous HVAC contractors try to take advantage of unsuspecting city residents. For example, in April 2019, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office charged eight home contractors in Philadelphia, for fraud and deceptive practices, amongst other charges. One of the contractors was paid over $10,000 for a project but left the work midway. While a lot of these fraudulent contractors simply abscond with consumers' money, other deceptive tactics they utilize include high-pressure sale tactics, unsolicited bids, and inflated estimates.

You can take precautionary steps when looking for HVAC contractors near you by taking note of the following tips:

  • Request for references of previous clients from your HVAC contractor. Take further steps by contacting these references to inquire about your intended contractors' work ethic and quality.
  • Get multiple bids from different contractors and compare their estimates before settling for the one that suits your budget.
  • Always confirm the licensing status of any HVAC contractor you intend to employ via the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections L&I's online platform. You can also confirm if your intended contractors have not been suspended via the DLI's suspended contractor's directory.
  • Execute a written contract detailing the job description of the HVAC contractors, permits, cost of materials, and expected date of completion.
  • Confirm that your intended contractor is adequately insured
  • Keep all documents affecting the project, like contracts, invoices, and receipts.

If you suspect any fraudulent HVAC contractor or you have a confirmed report about an HVAC contractor's scam, you can file a report with the Department of Licenses and Inspections by using an online Philly 311 form or calling 311. If you are calling from outside Philadelphia, you can contact the DLI at (215) 686-8686. You can also report to the Consumer Protection Bureau of the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General by completing an online complaint form. The Attorney General's Office cannot guarantee restitution. Therefore, if you are seeking restitution, you can file a civil claim at the Philadelphia District Court. However, it is advisable to get proper legal advice from a lawyer before making any legal claims. You can use the lawyer referral services provided by the Philadelphia Bar Association to find active lawyers near you.