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08-12-2012, 10:02 PM #1
How Much Electrical Work Is An A/C Contractor Allowed To Do?
I have two different A/C contractors under consideration for replacement of the 3.5 ton 12-year old Rheem system in my 1837sf lakefront single story Florida retirement home built in 1980. I grew up in the neighborhood but have been away working for the Government for the past 40+ years.
Among the 8 or 9 contractors I invited to bid, I dismissed those who were either morons, textbook salesmen, or otherwise unconcerned with what I wanted in MY house. This was after I’d narrowed down my choices and only called those who’d been in business over 20 years and had an A+ BBB rating.
I've pretty much decided on Trane equipment and both contractors under consideration are Trane comfort specialists who seem to know the equipment and have offered me options, leaving the choice up to me.... not trying to push me into buying something just to make a sale. That’s what I like about both, and they're fairly close in pricing of the various options and have both offered the Trane fall rebates coming next week without my having to inquire. They both identified the need to add a return without my having to suggest it, where most of the others didn’t even look until I brought it up.
My concern is that one of my contractor choices also has a license as an electrical contractor, but the other does not. Both have included electrical modifications in their bids. For example, the wiring from my breaker panel to the air handler is currently aluminum. It must be replaced with copper and POSSIBLY the breaker might have to be changed to a different amperage, depending on which equipment I choose. My home wiring is already copper, and I had the old Federal Pacific panel and main replaced last year. It wasn’t cheap, so I'm concerned when anyone talks about messing with the panel. The other electrical mod would be replacement of the old, corroded outdoor disconnect and possibly changing the size of wiring to the panel and upgrading the 24 volt wiring.
The one contractor with the EC license told me he's authorized to do the electrical, but said if I go with another company without the EC license, I'd have to hire an electrician in addition to an A/C contractor. He had me speak to the county licensing office and she confirmed that the other contractor did not have the license required for “running whips” or otherwise modifying my electric.
When I asked the other contractor without the EC license, he told me he's authorized to do limited electrical, such as wiring to the existing electrical breaker box. He said I could call the county to verify. I do intend to call next week and maybe I’ll get a different answer by speaking to someone different from the other contractor’s “contact” at the licensing office, if you get my drift.
Do any of the pro's here know whether I should trust the guy with the EC license over the guy without it? The licensed guy knows who the other guy is and told me he's been "written up" a number of times for doing electrical work, as have the other A/C guys in the county whenever they "get caught".
Advise, please. Do I trust the tattletale with the EC license, or the other guy without it?
08-12-2012, 10:10 PM #2
I'd suggest the one with the EC license. Always better to be safe then sorry.
08-12-2012, 10:18 PM #3
08-12-2012, 10:19 PM #4Professional Member*
- Join Date
- Jul 2010
Depends on the location. We're not allowed to change breakers here or even hook up the whip from the disconnect so that's subed out to an electrician. The electrical work is included in the bid though.
08-12-2012, 10:28 PM #5
08-12-2012, 10:47 PM #6
In Washington State, contractors that do HVAC are allowed to go from the Disconnect to the outdoor unit for electrical but not from the breaker panel to the disconnect.
08-12-2012, 11:07 PM #7
What the guy without the EC license told me was that his license allows him to run wiring to the first point of disconnect for the electric, which in the case of new wiring to the air handler would be the breaker in the panel. This would allow him to install copper wire to replace the old aluminum wiring from the panel to the air handler. He also said he has a licensed electrician who works with him who would do any work requiring an electrician "by code". Basicly, he asked me to trust that he would make sure the electric work was done right by a properly licensed individual. His not being a general contractor or holding an EC license himself, I'm not sure he can do that... ensure it's done right, that is.
08-12-2012, 10:57 PM #8
North Carolina one can have what they call a limited electrical license. It allows me to go from panel to equipment pertaining to the permit.
Without it I can not touch the high voltage. When I pull a permit for hvac I pay for an electrical permit, my resposibility... I then hire a sparky to perform work amd he signs off on permit.
08-12-2012, 11:17 PM #9
08-13-2012, 11:34 AM #10Professional Member*
- Join Date
- Aug 2007
- Northern VA 38 degrees N by 76 degrees W
08-13-2012, 11:46 AM #11
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Last edited by jpsmith1cm; 08-13-2012 at 04:22 PM. Reason: Non AOP member
08-13-2012, 11:31 PM #12Professional Member*
- Join Date
- Nov 2004
- SW FL
BUYER BEWARE.Designer Dan
It's Not Rocket Science, But It is SCIENCE with "Some Art".
Define the Building Envelope and Perform a Detailed Load Calc: It's ALL About Windows and Make-up Air Requirements. Know Your Equipment Capabilities
08-14-2012, 12:50 AM #13
Interesting that I now have a third contractor under consideration as of this morning. He was totally upfront with me and said his quote would not include electric, as he is not licensed for electric. He does work with a certain electrical contractor and he said he would provide them the specs on the A/C job and have them call to set up an appointment to quote the required electrical work. Guess I'm getting old... this is exactly how I remember things being done in the 60's and 70's when I was new at home ownership and wanted to change or add central air.
I just went over the quote the non-EC contractor had emailed me one more time, word by word, and found something interesting. Although we had specifically discussed the code requirement to change aluminum wiring to copper from the panel to the air handler, and I have his answer to my email asking if he would (could) be doing that work (he said he could and would), nowhere in the proposal is any mention of changing the wiring from the panel to the airr handler!!!!!!!
I am really leary of dealing with the non-EC guy now!
Buyer beware has been my motto for over half a century!