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Are permits really required to replace my air conditioner?

The short answer, yes (A quick phone call to your local building department will verify this). Whether you’re planning to replace or upgrade your air conditioning system in your home, a permit is required. However, many people do not understand the permit process or why this is a requirement. Basically, this is all about safety. Permits are required to protect people from any construction work that may violate current building codes, which could cause harm to life and/or property. With proper permitting and inspections, you can ensure that the work being performed inside your home is done correctly and that no shortcuts have been taken. Permits ensure that energy conservation and accessibility are complied with. All air conditioners consume energy in the process of removing heat from the air for home comfort. Here in Southern California, your A/C consumes on average around 50-70% of your electric bill! Air conditioners that are more efficient are better at turning energy consumed into cooled air, reducing the energy needs and financial costs of cooling your home. This is done by rating the units SEER value (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio); the higher a unit’s SEER number, the more efficient it is in terms of energy consumption. Federal regulations require that all air conditioners currently sold in our part of the U.S. must have a minimum SEER value of 14; however, air conditioners are available with SEER ratings well in excess of this value. Part of permitting requires the contractor to provide accurate ratings on all equipment being installed in your home.

Permits help protect you by avoiding unlicensed contractors. Sure, the work may be cheaper if it is done by a handyman, but it gives truth to the saying “You get what your pay for”. Unlicensed contractors are known for taking shortcuts, not knowing best and proper installation practices,  and scamming people. Working without a proper license is against the law. It is extremely important to ensure you have hired a licensed professional for your AC change out. Keep in mind, just because they are licensed, does not mean they will properly permit the work. Always ask for permitting to be included in your contract and proof of the closed permit before your project is finished. Getting caught doing the work without a permit can lead to violations and fines. If code enforcement can see (or is notified) that work has been performed without a permit, you can expect to get a code violation that will lead to future fines with VERY EXPENSIVE fees and penalties, in some cases as much as $5000 per day the unit is installed! It is also much more expensive to permit the work “after the fact” then to obtain the proper permit in the first place. Often, the city/county will charge double fees for permits with an attached violation. You can avoid all those nasty headaches with the city on by simply doing what is required. Don’t risk additional fees by skipping the permit process! Plan on selling your home? If you plan on selling your home and you’ve had work performed without a permit, even 10 years ago, most home inspectors can determine this. You will then be held liable to obtain the necessary permits and inspections prior to transferring ownership of the property. New buyers are typically unwilling to take on these headaches. The problem that can occur with this, is now you must hire a licensed contractor to inspect the work, obtain a permit and make any necessary corrections to bring the work up to current code. Yes, if you installed a system 7 years ago and a permit was not obtained, it must meet current code. Building codes change over time, so this may mean countless repairs in order to pass all inspections. This will not only cost you money, but time, and will put a hold on selling your home. Here are 3 signs it’s time for new A/C

Are you in the market for a new A/C? Contact us today! Our team of licensed mechanical professionals can help you select the proper unit for your home and will ensure it is installed with the proper permits. Contact Us! Phone: (909) 325-6028 Email: 

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