The vast majority of American homes with HVAC systems use R22 refrigerant in the coolant system. Historically, this coolant has been regarded as the most effective and the best overall value, contributing to its widespread use. Plenty of HVAC technicians still highly praise this refrigerant and use it in all their work. However, is R22 really everything it’s claimed to be?
A growing number of HVAC technicians and industry experts are beginning to turn to alternatives to the R22 refrigerant. Whether they cite environmental concerns, chemical differences, or any of a number of other reasons, it’s worth looking closer at their questions about this so-called king of refrigerants.
Almost since the invention of home air conditioning, R22 has been the nearly-exclusive refrigerant most people used. If not for its environmental dangers, it would probably still hold that title. The ingredients in R22 are known to damage the ozone layer and contribute to greenhouse gases. Even after the problem was discovered and a solution agreed upon, the deadline for a resolution has only recently begun to loom and prompt quick action.
Alternatives to R22
The puron refrigerant R410A, which was significantly safer for the environment, slowly began to gain prominence with time. Reluctant technicians stayed away from R410A at first, citing a host of reasons it didn’t work. Others pointed out that because of their different chemical compositions, R410A produced higher pressure than R22, making the compressors work harder in an HVAC system. R410A also contains caustic POE oils instead of the much safer mineral oil used in R22.
As the deadline approached, many manufacturers had to stop producing machines designed to use R22. Consequently, more and more technicians sought out alternatives such as R410A. However, many continued to cite bad results and blamed the new refrigerant rather than a lack of effort to change. Many still tried to purchase R22 for their work, causing the price to skyrocket from $50/jug to more than $900.
What This Means for Your HVAC Career
Chemists had developed a host of alternatives that could be used in R22 units, including several refrigerants with a near-perfect match on performance and pressure. Today, there are at least 10 refrigerants available that either match or outperform R22 in its refrigerant properties.421A in particular shows great promise. Why spend hundreds of dollars on an environmentally unsafe compound when you can save money and the earth through buying an alternative refrigerant?
Of course, many of your clients will still have older machines that use the original types of refrigerants or an alternative to R22 that you may not have heard of. Before you buy any new refrigerant for a client or suggest a top-off of what they have, make sure you know exactly what type they’re currently using. Putting in the wrong compound could damage their HVAC unit and cause terrible warranty problems for you as the contractor.
Pro Tip: Different units will use different types of refrigerants. Make sure to educate yourself on the most common types and their pros and cons so you can help your customers make an informed decision.
Finding the Right Refrigerant for the Job
The modern world changes rapidly, and the HVAC industry is no exception. Refrigerants will come and go as more cost-effective and environmentally friendly options are developed. Always be willing to compare your old favorites to new products. You may be surprised to see that what was once the gold standard now takes a backseat to a new arrival, much like the R22 refrigerant is phasing out of the industry.
Connect with us to learn more about different HVAC refrigerants and how to best use (or avoid) them in your career.
Your HVAC contractor’s job consists of more than just repairing your HVAC system. Ultimately, they should be able to help with, or at least identify, other significant problems that could be contributing to high energy bills or an uncomfortable home climate. Keep an eye out for these common signs of a bad HVAC contractor–it may be time to hire someone else.
Most HVAC contractors are honest, hard-working people who just want to make your home as comfortable for you as possible. However, on rare occasions, you’ll find yourself dealing with a less than ideal repair person. If any of these red flags seem familiar, it may be time to hire an alternative:
- Poor ventilation even after repairs
- Skipping measurements
- Poor customer service
- Ignoring the root issue
1) Poor Ventilation Even After Repairs
Part of an HVAC contractor’s job is checking your home’s air ventilation for any potential problems. If you notice that airflow seems nearly nonexistent even after a repair job, it’s probably time to call the contractor back.
Keep in mind that this is a common mistake and not necessarily a red flag on its own. However, if you notice the same problem happening repeatedly from the same contractor, chances are they’re cutting corners on more than just this one area.
2) Skipping Measurements
A good contractor will always measure your home and air conditioning units very precisely to help in their work. If your contractor claims to be able to estimate based on appearances or a similar floor plan, they’re either being careless at best or lazy at worst. Always ask them to measure everything essential to their job before beginning work.
3) Poor Customer Service
At the end of the day, you are buying a service from your contractor. Excellent customer service skills on their part are essential to retaining you as a client. If your HVAC contractor refuses to treat you with the respect you and your home deserve, it may be time to find someone else.
4) Ignoring the Root Issue
If you come down with the flu, chances are you’ll go for extra-strength flu medicine rather than just a pain reliever like ibuprofen. While one attacks the root cause and sickness, the other only deals with one symptom. Likewise, several small HVAC issues are likely connected by an underlying problem. Your HVAC contractor should be able to assess the list of problems and find the ultimate issue to be fixed. Rather than dealing with the symptoms one at a time, start resolving the problem for real by working on the underlying issue.
Pro Tip: A good HVAC contractor knows exactly where to look to find the root cause of your problem. If your contractor seems more focused on just providing a temporary fix, it’s time to find someone else.
Finding a Trustworthy HVAC Contractor
Fortunately, most homeowners’ experiences with HVAC contractors are excellent. You’ll rarely have to worry about these problems. However, if you do notice some bad signs showing up, keep in mind that the contractor is working on your home. If your original choice repeatedly shows signs of a bad HVAC contractor and you are having doubts about them, consider looking elsewhere to ensure you get the experience and service you’re looking for.
Connect with us to learn more about finding a contractor you can trust.
Regardless of your career choice, you can’t afford to stop learning. This is especially true for HVAC contractors. While this may sound like a no-brainer, the fact that countless American homes have an incorrectly installed AC unit shows that plenty of HVAC contractors don’t see the need to continue improving their work.
With the introduction of such features as thermostats and electronic circuit cards to AC systems, the need for continuous HVAC training became more pronounced. Since electronics change much more rapidly and readily than less advanced hardware, it’s absolutely essential to know how to keep up with these updates and learn how to use this new form of equipment. Unfortunately, not enough contractors see the need to keep learning once their classes are over. Let’s take a look at why continuous learning is relevant to your HVAC career.
Teach Yourself Through Available Resources
You will run into veteran technicians out in the field that think they know it all and basically quit learning new stuff years ago. This is a poor approach to any career. Unfortunately, these guys frequently get senior positions and talk with authority. If you get stuck with one of these types and can’t get away from his influence, quit that job and go seek another one.
This need to learn constantly is a good thing since it keeps us in learning and research mode, which makes staying current even easier. There’s no shame in just taking to the internet to search for an AC-related question or advice. Years ago, HVAC technicians relied heavily on books and factory tech support. Now, with smartphones and the internet, you literally have a world of information at your fingertips. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?
Continuing Education is Often Legally Required
If your goal is to open your own HVAC business, almost every licensing jurisdiction requires continuing education of 8 hours per year as a minimum standard. By keeping up with this requirement, HVAC contractors can continue improving their work, keep their licenses current, and stay up-to-date on every update to the industry. Whether you have a license or not, get in the habit of learning everything you can as often as you can about the HVAC industry.
Pro Tip: When it comes to the HVAC industry, never stop learning! There’s always something new to teach yourself or a positive change you can make.
Don’t Just be a Tourist
If your ultimate goal is to work your way to your own HVAC business or just use your newfound skills to support yourself, don’t allow it to become just a job. Don’t be a casual tourist of anything that is important to you. Your HVAC business can support you and your family for a long time to come. Do yourself a favor and stay informed to remain competitive in this growing industry.
Keep Teaching Yourself
Like any other career field in the modern world, HVAC recommendations and work change very frequently and with little warning. If you fail to keep yourself updated and educated on how to handle these new changes, your career will be rather short-lived. Keep your career on track and your customers happy by educating yourself on any topic relevant to the HVAC field. Never stop learning!
Join the conversation for more ways to continue educating yourself through your HVAC career.
Thank you for considering The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating in your quest for HVAC training. If you have viewed our website or taken a tour of the facility, you probably already know what we have to offer that is unique to our program.
First of all, please know that we care about you and we intend to do everything to give you more than you expected. Once you pass through our doors, you become part of our club and we are here to help and guide you long after you graduate. Let us be the training center you need to start your HVAC career.
Common Questions & Answers
Even after a tour or browsing session on our website, you probably still have plenty of questions about The Training Center. We’ve compiled the most commonly asked questions we receive, along with their answers, here for your convenience:
- How are we different?
- What is a subject matter expert?
- Why was this school started?
- Is this class for you?
- Why learn the HVAC trade?
- What do our students say at graduation?
- Why should you contact us?
1) How Are We Different?
The class is designed to get the information and labs to you in the most efficient way possible and to use your time onsite most effectively. We are not about filling seats and adding more and more. We are about small class sizes and quality. We do not start students at random times, nor do we switch you to other trade classes in the middle of a course. We all start together and we all graduate together.
2) What is a Subject Matter Expert?
The state of Texas receives numerous applications for subject matter experts, outstanding leaders in their field, out of which only 4-5 experts are chosen annually. Chris Walters has been a continuously selected expert for a number of years and has not only maintained and worked on the class A license exam, but also asked to be part of the class B exam and to help develop a new technician certification exam. Positions like these come at the pinnacle of careers and are limited to applications that hold the highest license type.
3) Why Was This School Started?
Chris Walters started this school because none existed that met his needs for technicians in his air conditioning company. After nearly 23 years of getting other schools’ graduates only to have to train them on almost everything, he decided to do something about it. Starting the school solved his technician problem and allowed other contractors to hire new graduates from the school. Now Chris exclusively spends his time developing and improving the training to keep it cutting edge and always relevant to what is breaking today.
Once he got state approval of the school, Chris sent his helpers through it and immediately put them in service trucks. After training more technicians, the word got out and contractors called almost daily in search of graduates to hire. His hard work has paid off as the school continues to thrive today.
4) Is This Class for You?
This class is for you if you want to learn how to install or repair an HVAC system. Age doesn’t matter–as long as you’re willing to put in the effort and apply yourself, you can launch an HVAC career at any age. Likewise, you don’t need to be an expert in HVAC to take this class. The lessons will be given to you at your level of knowledge and you will never be singled out for knowing too little. No matter where you are in life, we can meet you there and bring you up to speed.
5) Why Learn the HVAC Trade?
There are several reasons why this trade is such a great choice:
- The HVAC industry is suffering from a severe lack of qualified workers since this is not a skill easily learned on the job. The market is wide open!
- The work is challenging, exciting, and the pay is excellent. You can choose to work in a different location every day or maintain some consistency, depending on your preference.
- You can build and run your own HVAC business in just 4 years.
- A/C systems wear out every 10 years, so new opportunities are never far away.
- Big HVAC companies have driven installation and repair prices very high, so you can easily offer competitive prices and earn yourself plenty of business.
6) What Do Students Say at Graduation?
The most important thing we hear from our students is that we gave them everything we promised. It is very important that students trust our comments and then see that we will follow through. We also hear great compliments from the families and employers of our graduates.
Graduation night is very special to us and a great time for family to share in this important moment. We get many warm thanks all throughout the program and we always welcome graduates to return and let us see how they are doing.
7) Why Should You Contact Us?
When you contact us, you will get our undivided attention for as long as you need it. We will not only answer all your questions, but we will invite you to visit us and take a look for yourself. If school is in session, you are welcome to visit during one of the classes and sit in for a few minutes.
Pro Tip: It is very important that you feel at home here and never feel rushed. We just want to show you that what we have to offer is superior to virtually any other training experience you can find.
Jump-Start Your HVAC Career
Your career’s ultimate success depends on several factors. Of these factors, the most important is arguably your training experience. Did you learn everything necessary for your work? Were your instructors and fellow students available for continued support even after graduation? Finding the right trade school is crucial to your career. With the answers to these common questions, you should be able to make an informed decision on where to seek training.
Connect with us to learn more about planning your HVAC career!
Professional conduct and ethics sound at first like something we all know and don’t need to be told. In regards to the way we treat ourselves and fellow HVAC contractors, this is probably true. However, the definition of professional conduct and ethics needs to expand to include our treatment of customers, employers, and employees as well.
Ethical standards of treatment should apply to everyone in the HVAC industry. Potential customers and employers particularly deserve a professional contractor. While there are no established ethics and code of conduct for HVAC contractors, there are a few universal ethical principles that most people will appreciate seeing. Let’s take a closer look at what those principles are.
Helping Customers vs. Upselling
Any time money is involved, the greed factor comes to play, and with greed comes deception and dirty tricks. This is in no way exclusive to any one group.
For example, let’s say you go to work for a company that pays you a fair wage and you give them a fair day’s work for that wage. There is no reason for you to earn anything except the amount you agreed to work for. At the end of the week, you’re happy with your paycheck, your boss is happy with your work, and the customer is happy with the services you provided. This type of win-win-win situation is fairly common with many business models. However, if the business owner is only interested in sales and offers a high commission only if you sell new systems, customers are at your mercy because they truly have no idea of their options. Unfortunately, businesses focused more on selling new systems than helping people pay about triple what a truly honest business would. This is when greed sets in and businesses forget how to help customers and just sell HVAC systems. This dishonest business practice is far too common.
Pro Tip: Customers just want to make an informed decision without pressure and upselling from you as the contractor. Answer their questions honestly and help them find the best choice for their homes.
Ethical Behavior for an HVAC Contractor
Be honest with the customers and give them all the options. It’s not our job to decide what is best for them, and it’s certainly not ethical to hide options from them.
The same thing comes to being professional in our dealings with one another in the trade. HVAC techs should never feel above performing an installation, for instance. It’s all part of the job.
Red Flags to Watch For
If you notice these red flags after leaving an HVAC training program, take them as a sign of which companies to avoid:
- No recovery or vacuum pumps and equipment on the trucks
- No brazing with nitrogen flushing
- Selling used refrigerant
Practices like these are why it’s so important for us as HVAC contractors to self-police our trade. These shoddy companies either need to get in compliance or out of business.
Maintaining a High Standard
Professional conduct for an HVAC contractor goes beyond simple customer service and courtesy. You must also understand exactly what your client wants and provide it, rather than trying to create more work and thus more profit for yourself. After all, a happy customer can easily become a repeat customer through ethical treatment.
Join the conversation to learn more about professional conduct and ethics for HVAC contractors.