Statewide Licensing



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April 26, 2009 - State Legislature Passes Senate File 224

The State Legislature passed Senate File 224 , a bill which makes changes to the current plumbing and mechanical licensing bill.

Key provisions of the bill are as follows:
•    A contractor category of licensee is added.
•    “Routine maintenance" is defined to mean the maintenance, repair, or replacement of existing fixtures or parts of plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration, or hydronic systems in which no changes in original design are made. Fixtures or parts do not include smoke and fire dampers, or water, gas, or steam piping permanent repairs except for traps or strainers. "Routine maintenance" includes emergency repairs to prevent damage to property, as may be defined by the board. "Routine maintenance" does not include the replacement of furnaces, boilers, cooling appliances, or water heaters more than one hundred gallons in size.
•    The board shall establish by rule a plumbing installation code governing the installation of plumbing in this state.
•    Commencing July 2009 and every two years thereafter, the board shall review its revenue, including amounts generated from license fees set pursuant to this chapter, and its expenses for purposes of re-evaluating its fee structures. The board shall establish a reduced rate for combined licenses.
•    The board shall adopt rules to allow a grace period for a contractor to operate a business while replacing a licensed master.
•    The board shall by rule provide for the issuance of a license for installers of geothermal heat pump systems that shall require certification pursuant to industry accredited installer certification standards recognized by the United States department of energy.
•    Local or state government workers are exempt from licensing if performing work on a plumbing or mechanical system in a government owned or leased facility while acting within the scope of their employment.
•    Exempts a person who performs the laying of pipe that originates or connects to pipe in the public right of way or property that is intended to become public right of way, even if such pipe extends under the property and up to the building. However, the person shall not make any interior pipe connections within a building under this exemption. This exemption does not restrict local jurisdictions from requiring licensure under this chapter if required by local ordinance, resolution, or by bidding specification.
•    Rental property owners or employees of such an owner are exempt from licensing if performing routine maintenance (defined earlier) on the rental property.
•    The board may by rule provide for the issuance of special plumbing and mechanical professional licenses authorizing the licensee to engage in a limited class or classes of plumbing or mechanical professional work, which class or classes shall be specified on the license. Each licensee shall have experience, acceptable to the board, in each such limited class for which the person is licensed. The board shall designate each special, restricted license to be a sublicense of either a plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration, or hydronic license. An individual holding a master or journeyperson, plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration, or hydronic license shall not be required to obtain any special, restricted license, which is a sublicense of the license that the individual holds.
•    States that a person may simultaneously hold an active journeyperson license and an inactive master license.
•    Special plumbing and mechanical professional licenses shall be issued to employees of a rate-regulated gas or electric public utility who conduct the repair of appliances. "Repair of appliances" means the repair or replacement of mechanical connections between the appliance shutoff valve and the appliance and repair of or replacement of parts to the appliance. Such special, restricted license shall require certification pursuant to industry-accredited certification standards.
•    The enforcement provisions of the licensing law are delayed until July 1, 2009.
•    The time period for which the board shall waive the written examination requirements for individuals applying for a license with five years’ prior work experience is extended through December 31, 2009.
•    The board can impose a civil penalty up to $5,000 per offense.
•    The plumbing and mechanical systems board, in conjunction with the electrical examining board, shall conduct a study to determine the most appropriate and feasible manner to implement a statewide inspection program for work performed by the respective licensees of both boards. By January 1, 2011, the boards shall submit a recommendation to the general assembly for the implementation of a statewide inspection program.

Click here to view Senate File 224.

February 9, 2009 - Online Application Available

The on-line application to obtain your state plumbing, HVAC, Refrigeration and/or Hydronic license(s) is now available.


Continuing education for plumbing and mechanical systems professionals.
Click Here to download proposed Chapter 30 .

2007 Iowa Acts, chapter 198, directed the Department of Public Health to establish continuing education requirements for plumbers and mechanical systems professionals. The Department proposes to adopt a new Chapter 30. The proposed rules establish a biennial continuing education compliance period, establish hour requirements, and address the standards governing the criteria for continuing education activities.

The rules provide that the plumbing and mechanical systems examining board may conduct audits to review compliance with continuing education requirements and require licensees to retain information about their continuing education courses for a period of two years. A licensee who is the subject of an audit is ineligible for license renewal until the completion of the audit.

The proposed rules provide automatic exemptions from the continuing education requirements of a license biennium for military service, residence in another state while complying with that state's continuing education requirements, and other specified circumstances. The proposed rules also provide permissive exemptions for situations involving exceptional hardship or extenuating circumstances and provide the grounds for extending the time in which a licensee may fulfill the continuing education requirements. A public hearing is scheduled for January 6, 2009, which will include five ICN sites throughout the state.

November 5, 2008 - Board Issues Proposed Rule

The Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Examining Board has issued the following proposed regulations:
Rule 641 IAC-Chapter 27: Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Examining Board – Administrative and Regulatory Authority was previously filed as Notice of Intended Action and is now posted as Adopted and Filed. 
Rule 641 IAC-Chapter 28: Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Licensure Fees lists the fees that an applicant may be charged for a license. 
Rule 641 IAC-Chapter 29: Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Professionals – Application, Licensure and Examination outlines what an applicant needs to do to qualify for an apprentice, journey or master level license in the plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration or hydronic discipline/s.  Those interested in grandfathering should pay particular attention to 29.6(1)c that identifies the specific requirements that will need to be met during the waiver period that ends on December 31, 2009.

To download a copy of all three Chapters, please click here [Plumbing Proposed Rules ].

September 10, 2008 - Notice of Intended Action

The Department of Public Health hereby gives Notice of Intended Action to adopt new Chapter 27, “Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Examining Board—Administrative and Regulatory Authority,” Iowa Administrative Code. These proposed rules describe the purpose and organization of the Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Examining Board. The rules also describe how this Board will conduct its business. Click here to view the proposed rule.

Any interested person may make written comments or suggestions on the proposed rules on or before September 30, 2008. Such written comments should be directed to Cindy Houlson, Department of Public Health, Lucas State Office Building, 321 E. 12th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. Comments may be sent by fax to (515)281-4529 or by E-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

May 16, 2008 - IDPH Announces New Staff & Licensing Boad Meeting Date
Cindy Houlson has been with IDPH now for two weeks and is getting an excellent start in her new position as the executive officer to the licensing board.  Cindy will be now serving as the lead IDPH staff person for the licensing program and will be your primary point of contact as we move forward.  Cindy can be reached via her contact information:

Cindy Houlson
Iowa Plumber & Mechanical Professional Licensing Board
Iowa Department of Public Health
321 E 12th Street
Des Moines, IA  50319
phone 515/281-6881
fax  515/281-4529
email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. <mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

The second position for the licensing board has been posted on the Iowa Dept of Administrative Services web site.


The first meeting of the licensing board has been scheduled for July 2nd and we are working on an agenda.  The agenda and location and time of the meeting will be distributed through the IDPH listserv and will be posted on the IDPH website in mid May.
April 22, 2008 - Governor Culver Appoints Members To The Plumbing And Mechanical Examining Board

Governor Chet Culver announced appointments to the Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Examining Board. The board is established to test, license and discipline plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration and hydronic professionals throughout the state. The board will adopt rules relating to the qualification requirements for applicants, the denial of applicants, the conducting of examinations, the grading of examinations, and the selection of vendors providing examinations. The Board will set fees for examination, and issuance of licenses and renewals. The board shall establish continuing education requirements. The board will also have exclusive jurisdiction of proceedings to revoke or suspend a license.

These members appointed include:

Director of Public Health Representative
Ken Sharp – Division of Environmental Health Director

Director of Public Safety Representative
Stuart Crine – Iowa Building Code Commissioner

Patricia Broerman
Des Moines
Plumbing Inspector

Dennis Molden
Sioux City
Mechanical Inspector

Susan Salsman
St. Charles
Rural Contractor

Carol Crane
Journeyperson Plumber

Jane Hagedorn
Iowa City
Plumbing Contractor/Master Plumber

Charles Thomas
Des Moines
Journeyperson Mechanical Professional

Ronald Masters
Journeyperson Mechanical Professional

Mickey Gage
New Hampton
Master Mechanical Professional

Thomas Day
Cedar Rapids
Master Mechanical Professional/Contractor

April 2, 2008 – HF 2390 Passes Senate 47-2
The Senate passed HF 2390 by a vote of 47-2. The bill now heads to Governor Culver for his signature.
March 17, 2008 - HF 2390 Passes the House 95-0
The House passed HF 2390 by a vote of 95-0. The key provisions adopted include the following:
•    The state licensing board will become effective on the date that HF 2390 is passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor;
•    The licensing requirements will still become effective on July 1, 2008 but the enforcement provisions of the law will become effective on January 1, 2009;
•    One of the requirements to obtain a journeyperson license is four years of practical experience. Commencing on January 1, 2010, to meet this four years of experience requirement, the applicant must have completed a Department of Labor approved apprenticeship program.
•    All governmental subdivisions that issue licenses on July 1, 2008, shall continue to issue licenses until June 30, 2009. Additionally, on or after July 1, 2008, a governmental subdivision shall not prohibit an individual with a state license from performing services pursuant to that license.
•    The following exemptions to licensing were either added or clarified in the bill:
o    Employees of any unit of state or local government, including but not limited to cities, counties, or school corporations, performing routine maintenance, as defined by rule, on a mechanical system or plumbing system, which serves a state-owned facility while acting within the scope of the state employee's employment;
o    Employees of manufacturers, manufacturer representatives, or wholesale suppliers who provide consultation or develop plans concerning plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration, or hydronic work, or who assist a person licensed under this chapter in the installation of mechanical or plumbing systems;
o    Persons licensed as a manufactured home retailer or certified as a manufactured home installer pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 103A.
•    Language in the law was clarified to state that:
o    The board will adopt one specific plumbing examination and one specific mechanical examination for each license type to be used for all plumbing and mechanical license examinations;
o    An applicant that has failed a test may request information about the subject areas that s/he answered incorrectly but may not obtain actual test questions; and
o    Applicants that fail the test may retake the test at a future scheduled test date.
Statewide Electrician’s License
During the last legislative session, in addition to passing statewide licensing for plumbing and HVAC contractors, the Iowa legislature also passed a separate bill creating the statewide Electrician and Electrical Contractor Licensing Program in the Fire Marshal Division of the Department of Public Safety. That legislation also created the Electrical Examining Board, which has recently adopted emergency regulations to implement this legislation.

An electrician not licensed by the local jurisdiction in which the electrician is working must have applied and paid the fee for a state license in order to perform electrical work on or after January 1, 2008.

In addition to creating different classes of licenses for electricians, the board has also developed a “Special Electrician” category of license. The rules state the following:

A special electrician license may be issued to a person who submits to the board a completed application with the applicable fee, who is not disqualified from holding a license, and who meets the qualifications for any endorsement entered on the license.

b. Endorsement 2, “Disconnecting and Reconnecting Existing Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Systems,” shall be included on a special electrician license if the licensee requests it and has passed a supervised examination approved by the board or has completed two years of documented experience in the disconnecting and reconnecting of existing air conditioning and refrigeration systems.

The Special Electrician license is for 3 years and the total cost is $75. Application forms are available on the Department of Public Safety’s website:
IDPH Creates Website
Iowa Dept. of Public Health has established a web page containing current information regarding the Plumber and Mechanical Contractor Licensing Act.  You can access this website through the IDPH home page at .  Look for the “Topics of Interest” on the bottom of the page. The information on this website is a repeat of the information shared during the August 29th Informational Meeting and no additional or new information has been added.

You will also find instructions for subscribing to an IDPH listserv that has been set up to communicate with those interested in receiving informational updates.   As we get closer to the legislative session, more information will become available and you will receive periodic updates via the IDPH listserv.

Interested in serving on the State Licensing Board?
Click here to download the form that must be completed and returned to the Governor’s office if you are interested in serving on the “Plumbing and Mechanical Systems Examining Board”. Please send it to the attention of Bo Berntsen (515-281-0215), Gubernatorial Appointments, Governor’s Office, State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319.

Also, if you decided to submit your application, please let us know so that we can follow up with the Governor’s office as well. All appointed directors will need to be confirmed by the Senate so if you have a good relationship with your Senator, you may want him/her to contact the Governor’s office as well on your behalf.

{moshide.billtext hidden Click here for the provisions from the licensing law related to the board makeup
1. A plumbing and mechanical systems examining board is created within the Iowa department of public health.

2. The examining board shall be comprised of eleven members, appointed by the governor, as follows:
a. The director of public health or the director's designee.
b. The commissioner of public safety or the commissioner's designee.
c. One plumbing inspector.
d. One mechanical inspector.
e. A contractor who primarily works in rural areas.
f. An individual licensed as a journeyperson plumber pursuant to the provisions of this chapter or, for the initial membership of the board, an individual eligible for such licensure.
g. An individual working as a plumbing contractor and licensed as a master plumber pursuant to the provisions of this chapter or, for the initial membership of the board, an individual eligible for such licensure.
h. Two individuals licensed as journeyperson mechanical professionals pursuant to the provisions of this chapter or, for the initial membership of the board, two individuals eligible for such licensure.
i. Two individuals licensed as master mechanical professionals pursuant to the provisions of this chapter or, for the initial membership of the board, two individuals eligible for such licensure. One of these individuals shall be a mechanical systems contractor. The board members enumerated in paragraphs "c" through "i" are subject to confirmation by the senate. The terms of the two plumber representatives on the board shall not expire on the same date, and one of the two plumber representatives on the board shall at all times while serving on the board be affiliated with a labor union while the other shall at all times while serving on the board not be affiliated with a labor union. The terms of the mechanical professional representatives on the board shall not expire on the same date, and at least one of the mechanical professional representatives on the board shall at all times while serving on the board be affiliated with a labor union while at least one of the other mechanical professional representatives shall at all times while serving on the board not be affiliated with a labor union.

3. Members shall serve three-year terms except for the terms of the initial members, which shall be staggered so that three members' terms expire each calendar year. A member of the board shall serve no more than three full terms. A vacancy in the membership of the board shall be filled by appointment by the governor subject to senate confirmation.

4. If a person who has been appointed to serve on the board has ever been disciplined by the board, all board complaints and statements of charges, settlement agreements, findings of fact, and orders pertaining to the disciplinary action shall be made available to the senate committee to which the appointment is referred at the committee's request before the full senate votes on the person's appointment.

5. The board shall organize annually and shall select a chairperson and a secretary from its membership. A quorum shall consist of a majority of the members of the board.

6. Members of the board shall receive actual expenses for their duties as a member of the examining board. Each member of the board may also be eligible to receive compensation as provided in section 7E.6.

7. The board may maintain a membership in any national organization of state examining boards for the professions of plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration, or hydronic professionals, with all membership fees to be paid from funds appropriated to the board. {/moshide.billtext}

Licensing Bill (House File 908 )
Licensing Bill Highlights {moshide.billtext hidden Expand|Hide}

•The bill establishes a license for persons who provide plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) services performed in ducted systems, all gas lines associated with any component of a plumbing or mechanical system, or services performed on refrigeration or hydronic systems.

• The bill supersedes and preempts all licensing requirements of government subdivisions that relate to plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration, or hydronic services.

• The bill creates one licensing board for both plumbing and mechanical comprised of eleven members. The licensing board will have the power to test, license, and discipline persons licensed under the bill. The board is created as part of the Iowa department of public health, which is required to provide staff support for board operations.

• Licenses come in three categories and vary according to experience: apprentice, journeyperson, and master. Apprentices must be registered in a Department of Labor approved apprenticeship porgram. Master licensees must present proof of liability insurance and post a surety bond as a condition of licensure. Helpers are not required to be licensed.

• Those exempt from licensing include: persons licensed as an engineer under Code 542B, architect under Code 544A, landscape architect under 544B, employees of municipal corporations, electric or cooperative associations, public utilities, rural water associations, commercial retail or industrial companies performing manufacturing, installation, service or repair work. Homeowners working on their principal residence, or healthcare facility, assisted living center, hospital, adult day care, or retirement facilities. Qualified propane gas installers and certified well contractors.

• The board may waive the exam for a journeyman or master in one of two ways: (1) If they can show that they have previously passed a substantially similar written exam AND the individual has completed 8 hours of continuing education within the previous two years; or (2) If they can demonstrate to the board that they have five or more years experience in that license area prior to the effective date of the bill.

• The board may allow a two-year delay in implementing the licensure requirements for contractors who employ less than ten mechanical professionals.

• Licenses shall be issued for a two-year period. During this two-year period, the licensee must obtain 8 hours of continuing education.

• Reciprocity with other states is allowed if the other states have similar licensing requirements.

• The bill limits advertising for plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration, or hydronic services to persons licensed.

• The bill provides that it is a serious misdemeanor to commit fraud in order to obtain a license. Any other violation of the Code chapter is a simple misdemeanor. The board may also issue injunctions and impose civil penalties (fines).

• The bill takes effect July 1, 2008. {/moshide.billtext}

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