HVAC, Plumbing & Cooling Towers and a Warning on Unlicensed Contractors in Disaster Areas

While it sometimes feels like a disaster movie living here, people in the Golden State aren’t shaken easily, and are often rebuilding after fire, flood or earthquake. This opens the door for scammers and they have been warned! First, we ‘plumb’ the depths of license rules for a business buyer…

Q:  I am in the process of purchasing a business that has a Contractor’s license with a “C-20” (HVAC) and “C-36” (Plumbing) classifications.  My experience is with hydronic piping and cooling towers.  What type of license would be required to perform this work?  I want to make sure I’m covered with the seller’s license.

A:  The “C-20” classification would be most appropriate classification for the type of work you are describing.  A Plumbing Contractor (“C-36”) can do the piping aspect of the project but not the cooling tower. You need to show at least 4 years of full time work experience in the trade you are applying for in order to qualify for the license. We can assist you if you need help.

The Board has sent a strong warning in a recent news release. It’s been a destructive fire season in many areas of the Golden State and the CSLB is warning unlicensed scammers that victimizing property owners a second time is a crime. Consumers are advised to check out anyone preparing to bid work.  The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is warning consumers about the dangers of hiring unlicensed contractors following a disaster, whether it is earthquake, fire, flood or mudslide. Unscrupulous, unlicensed contractors often prey on victims of natural disasters.

It is a felony to contract without a license in a declared disaster area.

Consumers can protect themselves by using CSLB’s resources. “Although it’s understandable that property owners want to begin rebuilding quickly, it’s important not to rush the process and hire the first contractor who comes along,” said CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson. “Take your time and protect yourself against con artists who will take your money and run—or incompetent contractors who will perform shoddy work. Hire only licensed contractors and check their qualifications.”

You can call CSLB, toll-free: (800) 321-CSLB (2752). For more tips online visit


Contractors working on a job—from debris removal to rebuilding—totaling $500 or more for labor and materials must be licensed by CSLB. To become licensed, a contractor must pass a licensing examination, verify at least four years of journey-level experience, carry a license bond, and pass a criminal background check.