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Do You Need A Permit For A Mini-Split AC System?

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When it comes to home comfort, perhaps no system is more important than your mini-splits air conditioning system. If you are planning to install a new furnace, heat pump, boiler, or other heating and cooling system, there’s more to consider than just the manufacturer and model. Your installer’s understanding and adherence to code and permitting requirements are also very important.

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Why permit is required for mini-split?

Mini-split unit’s installation/replacement is a sensitive task that includes wiring management, correct piping, unit’s placement and it could be a lot dangerous if necessary protocols are ignored during the process. Many states imposed a rule for both services providers and property owners that if they want to implement any installation or replacement operation of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation or Air Conditioning), they must have a permit issued by the regulating department of the state. A permit is required by law to replace your system, even if it is installed in the same location. There are some key reasons that represent why a permit is required to carry out any installation or replacement process:

  • A permit provides confirmation that your installer is licensed and ready to take on the project.
  • A permit offers peace of mind that the location, wiring, installation, and the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation or Air Conditioning) system itself are safe.
  • A permit is documentation should an accident occur. If your installer doesn’t obtain the proper permit and the unit is improperly installed, your homeowner’s insurance may not cover the cost of damages or replacement.
  • Permits are required to protect all people from the effects of repairs, replacements or new construction which are in violation of the current codes which could cause harm to life and/or property.
  • Permits are also required to ensure that federally mandated building-related requirements, such as energy conservation and accessibility are complied with.

So, if you are interested to install or replace the mini-split unit, you must have a permit for it. In case, you are hiring someone, ensure that they have a license / permit, issued by the authorities. In general, you should be permitted to carry out any installation of mini-split units, or heat pumps etc.

But in some conditions, local laws give some free-hand to the citizens when they are not bound to have a permit, which we have discussed below.

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Are there any circumstances where that policies would change?

Yes, there are some circumstances when certain rules are not applicable.

There is a measuring unit called BTU which represents the power of mini-split Air conditioners. Before installation, it is calculated that unit of how much power is required which totally depends on the room size and weather severity. You don’t need to worry about the permit if you want to install a unit of three tons or less than 36000 BTU/hr. If your requirements are exceeding this limit and you have a bigger room size to cover than you should contact to energy / regulatory department of the city or state for the permit or find some service providers who are permitted.

According to the NYC Landmark Preservation Commission, Permits are not required for HVAC (Heating, Ventilation or Air Conditioning) equipment that can be installed by raising the lower sash of a double-hung window or simply opening a casement leaf, transom, hopper or awning window.

However, permits are required for window units that require brackets affixed to the exterior or alter the window sash or frame.

Who dictates if a ductless mini-split needs a permit?

There are some regulations briefly explained by the U.S Department of Energy, according to which, to install mini-split hear pumps, air-conditioners, the owner must ensure that he is permitted for it. Issuing permits help the officials to design surveys and lead field examinations can support manufacturers or remodelers with proposed plans and give jurisdictional authorities data for acknowledgment.

Most state and local municipal governments require HVAC (Heating, Ventilation or Air Conditioning) equipment to be installed in accordance with certain codes and regulations. Typically, these do not forbid homeowner installation of ductless mini-splits. However, many require specific permits to be pulled in order to install certain HVAC products.

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Where should you look up the local laws on mini-split permits?

The local laws and rules may vary from state to state. Many regulations are different from each other between municipal governments. To avoid any kind of inconvenience, you should contact the governing office of your city and get better guidance about the laws. 

Check with your local codes enforcement office to ensure that you are complying before you start an installation. If you need to get a permit, make sure you do so. This will prevent later fines or penalties for code violations.

Read this article to find out how much mini-split permits can cost.

What is the process to get license of HVAC as a service provider / contractor?

There are policies for local and commercial level HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & mini-split Air Conditioning) working and issue licenses / permits accordingly. We did some research and find out the rules and regulations of some states and also regarding departments. So, you might get help out of it:

  • California

California requires its HVAC workers to be licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board. According to its policy, The C-20 HVAC license is required for any jobs.

  • Florida

To work in Florida, you will need a HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) license from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. There are a number of different licenses available, including Class A, B and C certified (to work anywhere in the state) and registered (to work within a specific locality).

  • Texas

In order to work as an HVAC contractor in Texas, you will need a state license issued by the Texas Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors Advisory Board. There are two classes of license which determine the size of the units you can work with. To qualify for a license, you must have at least four years of practical experience in HVAC in the past six years, under the supervision of a licensed technician. 

  • Illinois

There is no licensing requirement on a state level in Illinois. But there are HVAC license requirements on the local level. It is important to check the licensing requirements in the jurisdiction in which you plan to work like installing the split unit or air conditioner.

  • Massachusetts

A general HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) worker in Massachusetts does not require a state license to work, unless they work specifically in refrigeration. A refrigeration contractor, who works with more than 10 tons of refrigeration must be licensed. The regulating authorities also imposed condition of some hours of theory classes and field work before getting licensed.

  • New York

There is no state licensing requirement for HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) workers in New York. However, there are local requirements and you must check the local regulations before you begin work.

  • Virginia

To work as a HVAC contractor in Virginia you must have a state license from the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. There are three classes of contractor licenses (A, B and C), depending on the value of the work you plan to do.

  • West Virginia

The state of West Virginia requires all air conditioning related workers / service providers to hold a state air conditioning license issued by the West Virginia Department of Commerce Division of Labor.

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Who can apply for permit?

A permit can be obtained by licensed contractor or the property owner. In order for the property owner to obtain a permit, the property must be their current permanent residence.

Do you need permit to replace mini-split AC unit?

A lot of people are confused and don’t know much about the permit / licensing policies. It is most likely that there’s some policy regarding permits in your region. But before starting any work, you must contact the local municipal department and get confirmation. So, there is some policy, then the answer is YES and you must have a permit to replace your AC unit.

These are major home projects that require a great deal of work by contractors and installation teams and require skilled work (such as gas piping, exhaust venting, and electrical) to be performed correctly. Homeowners should always have peace of mind that the contractor performing this work is fully licensed, knowledgeable and follows all proper laws and industry protocols when completed a job like AC installation/replacement.

Unfortunately, there are some “contractors” out there that, in order to grab a quick job, trick homeowners into thinking a permit isn’t necessary for this type of replacement. They offer them a low cost, do the work quickly, and get out before anything has a chance to go wrong. As you can imagine, this is wrong on many different levels.

How permit ensures safety and proved cost saving?

Getting permits when replacing your HVAC system will save you money. There are plenty of studies that prove the point that having your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation or Air Conditioning) system installed properly will save you on energy your energy bills. When you get a permit, the city will verify that it’s installed properly. As of 2019 in California, all building departments require a qualified third party to verify that the system is performing as it was designed to. This may seem excessive but studies have shown that only 10% of all HVAC (Heating, Ventilation or Air Conditioning) installations nationwide are done properly. Showing that 90% waste some type of energy from leaky ducts to incorrect refrigerant charge levels. Read more about permit costs here.

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