Friday, May 19, 2017

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

HVAC Licensing Requirements for California

The California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) regulates and licenses the state’s construction industry, which includes the HVAC industry (i.e. Heating and ventilation systems and their installation, maintenance and repair). The remit of the CSLB covers 44 different license classifications and HVAC is one of them. The board operates different classifications for the different construction trades. The HVAC trades are classified as a Class “C” Specialty Contractor’s License and given a designation of C20 – Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Contractor. No educational qualifications are necessary to take the licensing examination in California. However, relevant work experience is a requirement for the board to accept your application for licensing. This is known as your “qualifying experience”. “You must possess at least four (years) industry experience. Only experience earned at a journeyman level is accepted as a minimum. Further experience in roles such as foreman, supervisor, contractor or owner-builder will also apply. Any experience gained as a trainee or during an apprenticeship is not adequate for licensing purposes.”

California Requirements For HVAC Installations

According to the Department of Energy the heating and air conditioning is responsible about 40-45% of a typical residential energy bill. Lack of insulation or leaky ductwork ends up wasting air-conditioned air into non-conditioned spaces (such as a crawlspace, attic, garage or basement). A leaky system can reduce your efficiency by 20-30%. The state of California understands the energy waste and the importance of sealed ductwork and that is why Title 24 came about. In addition to losing conditioned air and energy, ducts that leak bring in dust and debris from the non-conditioned space into the home causing problems like allergies, etc. Another issue with holy ductwork is that rodents can access the area where air flow goes to the home and with that air carries the by-product of the rodents to the home’s air flow. Rodents often also have access to the home when this happens. As of July 1, 2014 things changed in California. California now requires duct pressure testing for all California climate zones under the 2013 Title 24. The 2013 Title 24 rules are not simple guidelines to understand and be compliant with. Vendors attend classes, read articles and go to meetings to review these standards to support their customers. Title 24 is the minimum efficiency standards, set by the California Energy Commission. When you wish to replace a gas furnace, evaporator coil, or A/C condensing unit – the city or county building department issuing your permit will require duct pressure testing in all Climate zones. What this test does is determine the amount of pressure leaks in the ductwork. If the amount is excessive according to the standards then the ductwork must be examined and repaired to be able to pass the permit inspection. California Title 24 requires all counties to pressure test. Even if a vendor is a BPI (Building Performance Institute) certified company, a licensed HERS Rater is needed to complete the testing to verify the paperwork and craftsmanship pass the minimum standards. The HERS rater is a third party special inspector that tests and verifies the efficiency and performance of your home’s heating and air conditioning systems. PG&E estimates that the average single family home has a duct leakage between 30% – 40%. Whenever HVAC (Heating Ventilation and AC) equipment is installed a minimum standard must be satisfied in regards to the duct pressure loss. Installations with no duct replacement must have 15% or less leakage in the ductwork Installations with ductwork replacement must have 6% or less leakage in the ductwork (this percentage is slated to be reduced to a mere 5% in the near future – stay tuned). The HERS rater’s responsibility is to report the findings to the state and local building department in order to sign off on the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) improvement permit. Many times the HERS rater will notify the heating and ac contractor if the leakage is too high, providing an opportunity to remedy the leaks so the installation can pass the leakage test and the subsequent (city or county) inspection to satisfy the permit. Upon request, some vendors will process the permits for their clients and provide assistance to help navigate through this testing and reporting maze of Title 24. Occasionally some clients prefer to obtain the permit with the city on their own. The firm also provides a list of the third party duct leakage companies for testing, or the client is free to find one on their own to hire. It is critical that when an independent HERS Rater is chosen for testing that they are not employees of the company replacing the HVAC equipment or ductwork. Many HVAC contractors have a HERS rater on staff, but they should not be checking their own work. HERS raters are typically independently owned and licensed by the state to perform the required tests and report the findings. To be as energy efficient as can be, equipment efficiency for both heating and cooling in the US (not just in CA) have to meet a minimum SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratings) for air conditioning and AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) for furnaces. If any measures do not pas,s the client or the HERS rater contacts an/the installing HVAC contractor to seal the system until it passes. Some things to look for when choosing an A/C vendor: A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau Diamond Certified heating and air conditioning contractor in Santa Clara County NATE certified technicians and installers High tech diagnostic tools