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.
Being an HVAC technician involves a lot of very technical and precise work, particularly when it comes to AC installation. This is why a proper education and training is so important for a long and successful career in the industry.
Unfortunately, not all technicians get things right during AC installations. In fact, there are a few practices that HVAC technicians actually get wrong more often than not. Why is that? It could be many things from displacency to simply not receiving proper education.
So, why is it important to talk about the shortcomings of AC technicians? In such a precise field that so many people rely on for their important service, these shortcomings are unacceptable. For those that are considering pursuing a career as a certified HVAC technician it is just as important to know the wrong way as the right way.
As an HVAC professional, you want to strive to provide the best care and service to your customers that depend on you to stay safe and cool. Knowing where others in the industry fall short can help you know where you can avoid the same pitfalls and become a more successful AC technician.
Keep in mind these common mistakes that HVAC technicians make during AC installation. You’ll notice the biggest pattern that emerges from these improper installation missteps is that they each can have serious negative impacts on the performance, efficiency, and lifespan of the air conditioning unit.
70% of technicians don’t follow proper vacuum procedures
One of the most important things technicians ignore not following proper AC vacuum procedures during installation. Vacuuming is important because it helps remove any excess moisture left within the system. Over time, moisture build up can cause long term damage from poor performance, corrosion, and even freezing with the AC system. Never skip this important step in the post-installation process.
70% of technicians don’t adjust for proper air flow
Ensuring an air conditioner has been adjusted for proper air flow ensures that it can efficiently and easily keep in-home air cool and comfortable for the customer. Proper air flow lets air more easily reach all the nooks and crannies, ensuring no random hot spots. When not adjusted properly, the system has a harder time performing and has to put in extra effort to keep the home cool, which not only can shoot up a customer’s utility bill but also causes AC’s to burn out faster than they should.
70% of technicians don’t charge unit per manufacturer recommendations
Correctly charging your customer’s AC system will ensure there is proper refrigeration to pull out hot air and keep their home cool. However, despite the fact that most manufacturers provide step-by-step instructions and offer their best practice recommendations, this correctly charging units often gets overlooked. The result is either an undercharged unit that can’t keep up with the heat and overwork itself or an overcharged unit that is loud and draws far more energy than it needs to.
90% of air conditioning installations are incorrect
Since these three steps during AC installations are so important, it may not be surprising to hear that more installations are done incorrectly than not. But, for an industry that prides itself on hard workers and providing a necessary service to its customers, this is a number that simply cannot continue to last.
Here at the Training Center for Air Conditioning and Heating, we are attempting to lower the statistics through a comprehensive training and education program for the next generation of HVAC technicians. The course is designed to teach students the skills and techniques required for entry-level employment into the residential and light commercial heating ventilating and air conditioning so that they can not just install and repair heating and cooling systems, but do it the right way to better serve their customers and help make them a more successful professional.
Interested in enrolling in an upcoming class? Learn more about how to join here.
Customers know that the best way to get a good deal on products or services is to comb the market, looking for the best company for their price. While many homeowners are concerned with getting the lowest possible price for what they want, another huge factor is the company itself that they’re considering. How do they generally treat their customers? And for an expensive yet critical part of the typical American home, the HVAC unit, homeowners are even more careful of their ultimate choice.
Appealing to a Wide Client Base
Customers have definite preferences regarding HVAC services, ranging from price to availability. However, don’t forget the more nebulous yet equally important factors many homeowners consider as they shop for air conditioning services. A few additional preferences may include:
- Experience and previous work
- Reviews and testimonials
- Speedy service
1) Experience and Previous Work
Past experiences, knowledge of current HVAC technology, and records of previous work are all important to prove your competence as a trustworthy technician. Even if you haven’t been in business very long, you can boost potential clients’ confidence in you by demonstrating an intimate knowledge of their HVAC problems and how best to solve them. Show off your current knowledge as well as your previous experiences and successful jobs.
2) Reviews and Testimonials
One excellent way to provide information about your previous work is through glowing customer reviews. How many past clients are thrilled with your excellent work on their HVAC systems? How recent are their reviews? Don’t be shy about promoting good testimonies from previous clients.
3) Speedy Service
Considering how many people use their HVAC units daily, especially during the summer, timeliness is a huge factor in which technician customers will hire. If their favorite technician isn’t available for a month, whereas a less familiar one can be there in an hour, most clients will choose the faster option. By its nature, HVAC is often a time-consuming job with work showing up abruptly and with urgent need. It’s important to do your best to be open to surprise jobs without neglecting previous appointments.
Pro Tip: Once you’ve been hired by a client, outline the timeline of your work for them. Make sure they understand exactly how long they can plan to wait on you.
Exceeding Customer Expectations
A home’s heating and air conditioning systems are among the most important parts, and consequently, homeowners prefer to hire only the best to keep their units maintained. In addition to exceeding customer expectations regarding your service and skill level, make sure you can meet their preferences regarding customer service as well. Your growing client base will appreciate your effort!
Connect with us to learn more about building an HVAC business after graduation.
Any business owner knows the importance of marketing and self-promotion to keep business coming in. Your HVAC business is no exception. As you begin your career, it’s time to start developing useful HVAC marketing strategies and methods to keep people interested in your services.
Promoting Your Business
To successfully get people interested in your HVAC skills, take advantage of the multiple advertising channels available to you. There are many ways to increase your business’s visibility and grant you a return on your investment. For the best results possible, try these proven advertising methods:
- Professional website
- HVAC postcards
- Seasonal advertising
- Follow-up system
1) Professional Website
Prospective customers often judge a business based on how professional (or sloppy) its website looks. Build an impressive website or hire an affordable marketing service to do it for you. The more polished and easy to use your website is, the more likely it is to impress your potential clients.
As you begin to accumulate glowing reviews, feature them prominently on your website (with the client’s permission). If possible, ask the client to elaborate on why they appreciated your help. Consumers trust other consumers to give honest reviews. By including plenty of positive online reviews, you’ll show yourself to be trustworthy and a great HVAC provider.
Pro Tip: Reviews that mention your business’s location and/or your name specifically are especially good for online visibility.
3) HVAC Postcards
Mail advertisements have existed almost as long as mail has, but they still bring in plenty of business. Design some colorful, eye-catching postcards to mail out in your local area. To further pique interest, consider offering a discount code or referral option on the cards. And don’t forget to feature your website address prominently.
4) Seasonal Advertising
By its nature, HVAC work is seasonal. However, that just means you already know the best times of year to promote your services. Remind people to replace their ACs in the summer and tune up their heating units in the winter. As customers realize a project they’d been putting off is suddenly becoming urgent, you’ll start hearing from more people. Take advantage of the seasonal nature of HVAC to earn more work for yourself!
5) Follow-Up System
Remember, very few customers hire you after only seeing one ad or visiting your website once. Continue making yourself visible to prospective clients through regular postcards, online ads, phone calls, or other marketing methods to keep your business in their minds. Your patience will pay off as you attract more people this way!
Generating Business through HVAC Marketing
The HVAC industry offers something truly useful to consumers. With an effective marketing plan and quality customer service, you’re certain to earn many clients’ trust and repeated business. Keep your HVAC website running and keep your ads new.
Connect with us to learn more about your new HVAC career and self-promotion for your small business.