HVAC installers provide an extremely valuable service: keeping them safe from the extreme heat and extreme cold of the seasons and helping them feel comfortable in their home or office. This job is especially important to the good people here in Texas who face indescribably hot conditions during the summer.
Not many people have the skills that heating and air conditioning installers have, making them a valuable member of the community they work in. As an HVAC professional, people will depend on you and the skills and expertise you possess to get them through the season.
It is for this reason that knowing 90% of air conditioning installations are done incorrectly is such a disheartening statistic. Even with all respect and expectations customers hold for the profession, almost every installation is not completed to the high standards that HVAC professionals were trained for and should hold themselves accountable to. To be frank, it is shameful.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. As an incoming HVAC student, a recent graduate of The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating, or just someone who is interested in the profession, you have the power to buck this trend and learn from the mistakes of those that have come before you.
Here are six of the most common air conditioning violations that occur in the field so you can learn to avoid them.
No Installation Permit
Acquiring the proper permits prior to air conditioning should be one of the very first steps in the process, yet it is often overlooked by both parties involved in the installation: the customer and the contractor. Most homeowners will know they need permits for major home renovations, but many don’t realize that they need one for air conditioning installation as well.
Permits are important for a number of reasons. They not only ensure the safety of those working on the equipment, but they also ensure that the equipment being installed is up to energy and environmental standards. Contractors can obtain the necessary permits on behalf of the homeowner and they can also be obtained by the homeowner themselves.
Installing without permits is often overlooked by homeowners who don’t know and contractors who don’t care – but both should concern themselves about it. Installing an air conditioner without the proper permits isn’t just dangerous but can result in serious fines. As a HVAC contractor, never take an air conditioning installation job without the proper documentation first.
Failure to Perform Manual J, Manual S, or Manual D
No two air conditioning system installations are the same. Each and every system requires very precise calculations and adjustments to ensure they are working properly and efficiently for the environment they are being installed in. Three calculations of particular importance that need to be done with every single installation are Manual J, Manual S, and Manual D calculations. However, these calculations are not consistently done, or done correctly, during many air conditioner installations.
Manual J is a calculation that needs to be done to properly size the system to provide optimal cooling based on the size of the home it is being installed in along with other factors. An air conditioner installed in a larger home will need to be adjusted differently than one in a smaller house in order to keep every room and every person cool.
Manual S then considers the geographical location of the system and the average temperature highs it will have to perform in. Also known as design temperature, an air conditioner needs to be calibrated to effectively and efficiently work under the conditions it will experience 99% of the season.
Manual D builds off the previous calculations by determining the proper sizing of the ducts needed to properly distribute air without underworking or overperforming.
Not performing these calculations causes air conditioners to not perform efficiently. If the system is oversized it distributes too much air during each cycle which can spike energy usage and inflate monthly energy bills for the customer in addition to ineffectively controlling humidity. Undersized air conditioners will not be able to keep the customer cool. Both instances make for unhappy customers and the need for unnecessary service calls to correct the system’s settings.
Furnace flue pipe touching combustibles
It is a shame that this needs to be said time and again, but because this is one of the most common air conditioning installation violations done here it goes: never put something very hot in contact with something flammable or combustible!
Every HVAC system has a flue pipe that vents hot exhaust air outside of the home it is installed in. Not only is this air warm, it can also contain carbon monoxide, an odorless and tasteless gas that can be deadly if it is allowed to circulate into a home’s air supply. Proper ventilation of the flue is an important part of HVAC installation, but so is the proper installation and accounting for the surrounding area.
When installed in homes, flues are often installed around wood from the subfloor or the home’s frame, which can be inflamed by the warm air and hot metal duct if the proper clearances are not accounted for. Suficit to say this isn’t just a mistake that costs money to fix, it is a potentially deadly one.
Heating equipment is the number one cause of house fires in the U.S and accounted for 19% of house fire deaths from 2014 to 2018. When installing a flue pipe or servicing a piece of equipment that may cause you to move or adjust the pipe, make sure the proper safety measures are taken before you leave.
Service access to equipment not accessible
Air conditioners need regular care, attention, and servicing to ensure they run properly for as long as possible. However, servicing the system properly can be made much more difficult (both for you and anyone else who might work on it in the future) if it has not been installed with the proper accessibility.
Here is the long and short of the situation: if it is hard to get to the system it is going to be hard to service it. This means that minor, easy-to-fix issues can get overlooked and become serious ones, cleaning is harder to do thoroughly, and the healthy lifespan of the system can be drastically shortened.
When you are installing an air conditioning system, make sure you are following the proper NEC guidelines for working space of three feet on each side of the equipment. This will allow that yourself and anyone else who needs to work on it has proper access.
Air conditioning installation isn’t always done right. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Understanding where other installers fall short is the first step in training a new generation of air conditioning installers who are hard working, thorough, and masters of the trade.
That is our mission here at the Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning. We are based in Houston, Texas and our founder Chris Walters spent his HVAC career practicing in Texas. Through our experiences working in this industry in this state, we know exactly what our students need to know in order to have a successful career upon graduation.
If you are interested in beginning your HVAC career with the best training available, learn more about our upcoming classes and get started today!
A career in HVAC repair and installation is a great career path for any person who is looking for a rewarding, challenging, and valuable career with an education that can be achieved in a fraction of the time and cost of a traditional four-year college. Not only that but there is no better place in the United States to start your HVAC career than right here in Texas.
It’s not just our Texas pride showing, a Texas HVAC career is truthfully one of the best paths you can take. Working in the HVAC industry in Texas requires you to be at your best, be the most knowledgeable about your craft, and gives you an opportunity to not just provide a valuable service but to be so much more than just that.
If you have thought about starting your career as a heating and cooling technician or installer but aren’t sure if it is right for you, let us help inspire you by telling you exactly why starting your career in Texas is the best way to start your career.
There is a demand for HVAC professionals
A combination of a long-standing labor shortage in the skilled trades workforce along with the labor shortage created in part by the coronavirus pandemic means there is a need for HVAC professionals across the United States now more than ever.
That demand is particularly being felt right here in Texas especially as we hit the peak of summer. Folks in Texas need their cooling equipment cared for, but there is a lack of skilled labor to serve them.
Coupled with the large amounts of job opportunities, the demand for labor in Texas means that once you complete your necessary training you have a good chance of securing a good-paying job right out of the gate. There are jobs available in Texas, and heating and cooling companies are willing to pay. Enough said!
Cooling is particularly valuable in Texas
Don’t get us wrong: properly working cooling systems are greatly appreciated all across the country. However, no one appreciates them quite as much as Texans. During summers in Texas, we can average highs in the upper 90’s every single day for months at a time. It gets so hot in Texas that the design temperature of HVAC systems has to be set for the 100’s in many of our state’s counties.
In some parts of the country, HVAC companies are at the mercy of the weather. Mild summers mean people can get by with what they have, which can affect their bottom lines significantly. Not here in Texas. Even a mild Texas summer can be brutally hot, meaning there will be plenty of work available each year.
We love Texas, but boy can it get hot! However, that means that Texans are especially appreciative of their HVAC service professionals. When it gets really, really hot lives are literally at stake. People won’t overlook the value of the service you provide to them.
Expert training available
Because of how important HVAC professionals are here in Texas, getting the proper training is of the utmost importance. This is why here at The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating we are proud to provide the best HVAC training in Texas to best prepare students for the demands they will face.
Our school’s founder, Chris Walters, has been in the heating and cooling industry right here in Texas for over 30 years. He understands the importance of the servicemen and women in the industry provide and has dedicated his career as an educator to sharing everything he has learned over the course of his career.
When you start your career by getting your education here at The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating, you know you are taking the best first step towards a Texas HVAC career.
Want to learn more about Chris Walters’ method or about opportunities to join our next session of classes? Click here to learn more.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is slowly going away as more folks receive their vaccines, the world is currently dealing with another crisis in the form of the material shortage that is greatly impacting many businesses and industries. The HVAC industry is one that has been particularly affected.
Dealing with this material shortage has put a lot of pressure on the HVAC industry and HVAC professionals. The shortage has created significant difficulties in producing and acquiring important heating and cooling equipment, delaying installations and projects.
These pressures have frustrated both professionals and customers alike, making the landscape for incoming HVAC professionals uncertain. With a material shortage affecting the job they do and the services provided, should incoming HVAC professionals and those just beginning their education and training be concerned about the heating and cooling material shortage?
While this shortage is definitely something that heating and cooling professionals need to educate themselves on, fully understand, and account for, it should certainly not be something that should dissuade individuals from a rewarding and important career.
Why is there a material shortage?
First things first, why is there a material shortage to begin with? It is the result of a domino effect tipped off by the coronavirus pandemic. When the pandemic first hit and lockdowns were ordered across the world, manufacturers had to adjust. Many severely scaled back production, some had to lay off a large portion of their workforce, others had to shut their doors entirely.
During this time, the production of materials was limited which meant available inventory was quickly used up without being able to be replaced. That brings us to today. As the world continues to return more and more to normal, demand has ramped back up but that demand is not able to be kept up with due to still-limited labor forces and an almost non-existing inventory.
For HVAC, construction materials, as well as microchips used in smart heating and cooling systems like programmable thermostats, have been the items most drastically affected. Hardships obtaining these materials means HVAC manufacturers have been producing them at a slower rate.
This material shortage WILL end
All indicators are that this material shortage is something that will loom over manufacturers and affect businesses and industries for an extended period of time. However, as difficult of a crisis to navigate as this material shortage is, experts also continue to indicate that it isn’t permanent and it will eventually even out.
Microchip shortages, of particular relevance to the HVAC industry, are predicted to start slowly dwindling over the next two years. While this may still seem like a bit of time, considering the severity of the crisis, the fact that an endpoint is already in sight is a great indicator.
Other materials will follow the same trajectory, some sooner than others, and sooner or later things will return back to normal for the HVAC industry. Until then, your customer service skills as an HVAC professional will be of great importance as you help your customers understand and plan to work around the material shortage.
Set realistic expectations
Some of your customers may be so far removed from the material shortages impacting different businesses and not completely understand why their orders are taking so long to be fulfilled. As a heating and cooling expert, it will be up to you to help educate your customers.
Delays in new equipment installation will undoubtedly cause some frustration with your customers, so the best thing you can do to prepare them is to be transparent about the crisis and set realistic expectations for their projects.
Communication skills are an undervalued soft skill for heating and cooling installers and technicians and navigating the material shortage crisis will require everyone to be at their best.
Customers will still be counting on you
One of the biggest reasons why incoming HVAC professionals shouldn’t be discouraged by the material shortage is one simple fact: despite issues producing HVAC products, homeowners and business owners are going to continue to depend on the valuable service that those in the industry provide.
The summers aren’t going to suddenly stop being hot and the winters are not going to suddenly stop being cold. Across the country, the demand for HVAC maintenance, service, and new installation is not going to stop just because equipment is harder to come by. The world still needs hardworking and skilled professionals to put their skill set to work protecting their homes and businesses.
In fact, in addition to the material shortage, there is a similar labor shortage happening across many industries. This is of course nothing new to the skilled trades, which have been experiencing a need for labor for many years leading up to the pandemic.
Don’t be intimidated by the material shortage. There is still a need for services and there is a need for professionals like you! If you are interested in starting your career in HVAC with the best training available, learn more about the upcoming schedule of HVAC classes right here at The Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning.
For years, R22 refrigerant was used in the majority of in-home air conditioning systems and considered the king of refrigeration. Well, the times have certainly changed.
Since January 2020, the production and importation of R22 has been banned, allowing only for continuing use of R22 from recycled or stockpiled reserves because of its negative impact on the environment. By January 2030, the EPA’s goal is to phase out the use of R22 almost entirely.
Considering that the majority of air conditioning and other cooling systems manufactured and installed before 2010, when heavy R22 regulations began, utilize R22 refrigerant, these mandates have changed much about the education and practices of HVAC technicians when it comes to refrigerants.
It has spurred us in the HVAC industry to explore and understand more environmentally and efficient refrigerant alternatives as well as inspired technicians to educate their customers on the matter. After all, the phasing out of R22 refrigerant is also going to put customers in the position to make some important decisions regarding their systems as well.
When those questions and decisions do come up, as an HVAC technician or a technician in training it’ll be your responsibility to help your customers make the best and most informed decisions for understanding and replacing their R22 refrigerant systems.
Here are some of the most important things for you and your customers to understand about R22 refrigerant.
Why R22 refrigerant is banned
The reason refrigerant has fallen under so much scrutiny over the past few decades is the negative impact it has been found to have on the environment. Refrigerants can produce emissions that are destructive to the Earth’s ozone layer and contribute to global warming.
This revelation spurred the EPA and governments across the world to begin enforcing stricter regulations on the use of refrigerants and creating new required certifications for HVAC technicians on the handling and disposal of refrigerant, such as the EPA 608 Certification.
So, while 2020 was a year that ramped up restrictions on production and importing of R22 refrigerant, regulations on environmentally harmful refrigerant has been ongoing for decades, with 2010 being a major turning point.
Your customers can continue to use their equipment
The most common question you are likely to encounter from your customers regarding their R22 refrigerant units is “am I still allowed to use it?” The answer is, of course, yes. While the ban exists to cease the production and import of R22, it doesn’t ban the ongoing use of it. So, it is important to put your customer’s mind at ease on this fact.
However, while the ongoing use of their current system is fine, it will present some serious issues for them going forward. As their HVAC technician, someone they should value and trust as an expert in your field, you do have an obligation to inform your customers of what they will be dealing with long term with these systems.
Maintaining their R22 refrigerant system is going to cost them
Because of the ban in production and import, ongoing repairs and replacements on R22 refrigerant systems will have to come from the remaining stockpile of reserves – a stockpile that will continue to rapidly dwindle over the next few years.
As supply diminishes and repair and maintenance demand for these systems (many of which installed before 2010) increases, it will create a landscape in which the cost of these repairs will rise and rise and rise. In the next few years, a refrigerant replacement job that would normally be fairly straightforward and relatively inexpensive will cost your customers a great deal more because of the limited supply.
As you encounter customers with cooling systems that utilize R22, it is a good idea to make this situation known to them and help them understand their options going forward. They may be stubborn and OK with paying more for the sake of living with their system until it finally kicks the bucket. However, you should make them at least understand the value of upgrading and replacing their cooling systems with more efficient and environmentally friendly modern systems.
As HVAC technicians continue to work in a post-R22 world, knowing the available R22 alternatives will help you be a better and more well-rounded HVAC technician, as well as become a more valuable resource for your customers when they are searching for replacements for their outdated cooling systems.
While no refrigerant is perfect and each has their own pluses and minuses, our preferred R22 alternative is R421a. R421a has 0 ODP, is non-flammable, is useful in a number of different applications, can in many cases can be used as a direct R22 replacement, and most importantly is one of the more environmentally friendly refrigerants available.
R32, R407c, and other greener refrigerant alternatives are also available and preferred by some. Like we said, there is no end-all be-all refrigerant choice. Good HVAC technicians will familiarize themselves with as many as they can and come to their own conclusions as to which they prefer and recommend to their customers.
The Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning takes the health of the beautiful world around us very seriously, so refrigerant education is something we take very seriously and even make EPA 608 certification a part of the requirements for graduation from our school.
If you are interested in learning more about a career in HVAC as a technician, check out upcoming schedule of classes to find the session that best suits you.
The coronavirus pandemic has put our country in an unprecedented position and put us all face-to-face with many hardships. It has been a tough time for all of us, but it has also been an opportunity for people across the country to rally together to prove that we are all in it together.
As the country continues to work towards going back to normal, everyone is doing their part to stay safe and keep others safe. Heroes of all shapes and sizes have stepped up to provide extraordinarily important services. It has also shown that now, more than ever, the world needs capable and talented individuals as HVAC technicians.
People are spending more time at home
The unfortunate truth with the coronavirus is that in order to beat it we will all need to do our part practicing safe social distancing. And while we all want things to go back to normal, this will mean more time spent at home for the foreseeable future, unfortunate as it may be.
As we adjust to a future with increased time spent at home, people won’t have the luxury of giving their air conditioning and heating a rest from time to time. During the dog days of summer, folks will need to keep their AC running full blast in order to keep their family comfortable. With less going out, folks will also be at home breathing the same old air.
Now, more than ever, people will need the help of qualified HVAC technicians to keep their homes comfortable, safe, and their heating and cooling equipment running strong. The extra running of cooling and heating equipment can cause them to wear out and require additional maintenance and checkups. Staying indoors will require folks to take advantage of duct cleaning services as well to ensure their in-home air stays clean and allergen-free.
Without trained HVAC technicians ready to lend their services to those in need, folks doing their part to maintain social distancing and protect themselves and others will be looking at a very uncomfortable summer, fall, and winter to come.
The shortage of skilled workers continues
On top of the need for HVAC technicians to take care of those at home, the country is still experiencing a great shortage of skilled workers in the HVAC industry that has been ongoing for the past several years.
This shortage has been created in part to the gap between professionals leaving the business and new technicians joining the industry. There has also been a significant applicant pool shrinkage as school budget cuts eliminate programs like shop class and many students have chosen to more aggressively pursue traditional, 4-year educational programs.
For those with an interest and aptitude for HVAC training, however, there has never been a better time to begin one’s career and education in this extremely rewarding industry. There is not only a wealth of positions available for HVAC technicians, there is an equally large need for professionals to fill those positions and eagerly awaiting customers.
Heroes are appearing in all shapes and sizes through the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is a great need for heroes in the HVAC industry. If you live in the Houston area and are considering a rewarding career as an HVAC technician, there really and truly has never been a better time to start your education.
The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating offers three new training classes each year with flexible morning and evening training sessions. Learn more about our training program and enroll in our upcoming fall and winter classes today.
But, as the demand for HVAC technicians during this time has increased, so has demand for our training courses. Availability is limited, so register today and save your spot!
Over the course of doing their job, HVAC technicians, like other professionals in the home service industry, have the unfortunate task of dealing with difficult customers. While that isn’t unusual for professionals in other fields of work, there are a few reasons why it can happen so frequently for home service professionals.
Perhaps the most relevant reason why is that HVAC technicians rarely interact with a customer when they are having a wonderful day. The entire reason you are there is that they are in a difficult situation, either something is wrong with their heating or cooling system and they are super hot, cold, or uncomfortable making them agitated or unhappy before you even arrive.
In addition, because of your service, they are likely looking at a somewhat sizable bill. While HVAC technicians provide an important service, they aren’t always the bearers of great news. Unhappy customers may feel more inclined to voice their displeasure because they are in their own home as well, especially if they’ve had a poor experience in the past.
Combine all the factors that can make a customer unhappy along with any feeling they may get that they received poor service or the job wasn’t performed to their liking and you’ll likely find yourself with a difficult customer.
While you may or may not be at fault, dealing with a difficult customer isn’t fun. But if you do, use these helpful tips to help defuse the situation and find the best resolution possible.
If an unhappy customer gets nasty with you, especially if you are in a hot and humid house, it can be easy to lose your temper and get nasty right back. This is the absolute worst-case scenario. If you lose your cool with a customer, it is only going to get uglier, there isn’t likely to be any positive resolution, and the customer is likely to take the complaint up the chain of command and get you in even deeper trouble.
But, if you manage to keep your cool and keep your emotions out of it you will be able to focus on how to deal with the problem and not simply get emotional about the situation. If you are able to speak clearly and calmly, the customer may be encouraged to calm down and follow your lead. Then, once both parties are calm you can focus on finding a solution.
Hear them out
While the service industry saying goes “the customer is always right,” sometimes they simply aren’t. They may indeed have the situation all wrong, be upset and directing their anger about something outside of your power at you, or simply just being altogether difficult. No matter how wrong they may be or how nasty they are about the situation, at least hear them out.
By listening to the customer instead of trying to correct them, talk over them, or argue with them, you can start building rapport with them. It demonstrates to them that you are paying attention to their concerns and listening to them are actively trying to understand and get to the root of the problem. By actively listening and repeating and acknowledging their concerns, your level of care about your job and the situation becomes apparent.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep
While it is important to take the concerns of a difficult customer seriously and to do everything in your power to resolve the situation to their satisfaction, it is also important to realize that the issue may be something outside of your control or something you simply can’t resolve right then and there. For that reason, tell them you will do everything you can to fix the problem but never make a promise you know you can’t keep.
Making and breaking a promise to a customer is a bad road you don’t want to go down. When you break a promise with an already angry customer they feel betrayed and will only flare tempers even more. It also puts you in the unfortunate position of having to backtrack and most likely need to apologize.
It’s OK to fire a customer
Sometimes there’s just no winning with a customer. If a customer is getting downright unpleasant and it is obvious that there is no pleasing them. In the end, you are just going to sink excessive time and energy into them and not see a dime. We call these kinds of clients “tire kickers” and sometimes it is OK to simply fire them.
You hear it all the time from the other perspective, a customer firing their service provider, but it can work the other way too. If you reach a point where the unpleasantness of a customer is too great to handle, refusing to offer your services is a viable, albeit fairly drastic, option.
Don’t take the argument online
If a situation isn’t 100% resolved by the time you leave or you are put in a position where you have to fire a customer, it is a good possibility that they may try and take their complaints to the internet, leaving a negative review or comment. How a home service professional handles themselves online is just as important as how they handle themselves in person, so it is important that you handle negative reviews carefully.
First of all, treat every review respectfully and don’t continue whatever disagreement you may have had in-person online. When you argue with a customer online, you air your dirty laundry in front of anyone who cares to look and can only serve to drive away potential customers. But, if your response is cordial, calm, and inviting for them to contact you directly to once more try and resolve the issue, potential customers will see that as well and see your positive reaction to difficult situations.
Customer service skills are one of the most important skills HVAC technicians need to have in their toolbox, along with the knowledge and skills to repair and install heating and cooling systems of course. Having a thorough understanding of how to provide customer service and deal with difficult customers can help any technician succeed.
Communication and customer service are two areas we focus deeply on during our course here at the Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating as we prepare up and coming Houston HVAC technicians dealing with difficult customers. Contact us to learn more about our classes and enrollment.