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Common Air Conditioning Installation Violations and How to Avoid Them

Common Air Conditioning Installation Violations and How to Avoid Them

Common Air Conditioning Installation Violations and How to Avoid Them

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!

3 Reasons Why Texas is a Great Place to Start Your Heating and Cooling Career

3 Reasons Why Texas is a Great Place to Start Your Heating and Cooling Career

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.

The Importance of HVAC Soft Skills

The Importance of HVAC Soft Skills

HVAC is an incredibly technical field. Becoming a licensed technician or installer takes extensive training and hands on experience, making the “know-how” of the job and every little in and out of the equipment you work on crucial. You cannot understate the value of technical skills in the HVAC field.

That being said, success in the industry is not entirely dependent on how skilled you are at navigating HVAC equipment. A successful HVAC technician or installer must also be adept at soft skills as well.

Soft skills are skills such as creative thinking, conflict resolution, time management, teamwork, networking, and other social skills that can help you succeed in your career. Basically, the opposite of the technical skills you learn throughout your training at The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating.

But, for a technical career like this one, why are these soft skills so important. In short, technical skills will help you do your job; soft skills help you do your job better and open avenues and opportunities for you to excel within your career.

Here are just a few ways that developing soft skills can help your HVAC career.

Represent you and your company proudly

For employers, soft skills are important for one major reason: how you conduct yourself, interact with customers, and what kind of impression you make. See, when you arrive at a customer’s home to perform your inspection, maintenance, or repairs you aren’t just there as yourself, you are there as a representation of your company, who wants you to perform your job effectively, make the customer happy, and leave a good impression. 

A technician that lacks desirable soft skills or social skills isn’t likely to meet those expectations. Say a technician shows up to a customer’s home late, smelling like cigarettes, grumbles a curt greeting before demanding to see the system, before stomping their dirty boots through the customer’s home. This isn’t just a bad impression on yourself, but the company they are there representing.

A technician who has developed their soft skills will be self-aware enough to realize just how important their professionalism and conduct is as their company’s reputation is on the line with every interaction. Your poor performance can have a serious impact on your company.

Become a more desirable technician

An HVAC technician who is well-spoken, communicates well, and exhibits traits like good work ethic, creative thinking, and strong teamwork is going to be much more desirable than the alternative in several different ways. 

The first, and most useful for someone currently going through career training or preparing to begin their training, is obviously landing a job. The technical skills on your resume will obviously be important for getting you an interview, but displaying your soft skills during the interview will help you make the best impression possible and stand out among other candidates.

Once you are on the job, however, being a desirable technician also has its perks. A technician who is charming, well-spoken, and always leaves their customers happy and satisfied can develop a loyal customer base who prefers your services, keeping you busy and well compensated. 

Exhibiting a strong work ethic, initiative, leadership, and teamwork skills can also help put you at the front of the pack for promotions and other advancement opportunities.

Better communicate with customers

Communication is a big deal for those working in the HVAC industry. When you have to have conversations with your customer about what is wrong with their system, what it will take to fix it, and, most painfully, how much it is going to cost, tempers are likely to flare. 

Soft skills in communication, conflict resolution, and empathy play a big role in customer relations. The ability to not lose your head, remain calm, and truly understand their perspective when someone is upset will help you be able to diffuse any high-tempered situations and calm customers.

The issues you encounter will also likely be very technical and beyond the knowledge of the average customer. Communication skills can help you better breakdown and explain the problem in a way that doesn’t make you sound superior or condescending, while being reassuring and comforting to customers.

How to develop your HVAC soft skills

Learning technical skills is easy enough. They can be learned through classes and hands-on learning, like the one here at The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating. Soft skills, however, aren’t so straightforward.

While learning soft skills is an important aspect of the HVAC industry, they aren’t always taught in the classroom. Instead, they are developed in the world outside the classroom. If you want to strive to be a better professional, getting real-world experience interacting with employers, customers, and coworkers is the best resource. Always open yourself up to feedback from others, actively listen to what they have to say, and think of how their feedback can be applied to your work habits. You can also research different courses, classes, or reading material outside of your HVAC classroom that can help you solidify these skills as well.

Looking for a place in the Houston area to hone the technical HVAC skills you will need alongside the HVAC soft skills you require? Classes are in session at The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating. Call 281.580.4239 to learn more or reserve your spot online today.

5 Things To Know Before Beginning Your HVAC Career

5 Things To Know Before Beginning Your HVAC Career

Here at the Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating, our students come from all walks of life, different backgrounds, and have different personalities. But, they all come with one single goal: they want to begin a rewarding HVAC career.

While everyone has the same goal when they first begin to pursue their interest in a career in our industry, not everyone has the same expectations or understanding of the career that lies ahead of them.

If you are beginning, or considering, a new career in HVAC, here are five important things you need to know before you start.

Training is required

One of the biggest appeals of a career in HVAC is its availability. You don’t need to go to graduate school. You don’t need a college degree. You don’t need any particular prerequisites skills outside of a hard-working attitude and a willingness to apply yourself. However, just because the level of entry for an HVAC career is low doesn’t mean anyone can just step in and do the job. Training is a requirement if you want to succeed in the industry.

While training for an HVAC career does not involve a four-year program as you’ll find at most universities, training courses offered by programs like ours at The Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning will prepare you with the technical and professional skills needed to be successful in your new career. Graduating from a training course will also award you with various certifications that are necessary to practice in some states and will always help give you a leg up in the hiring process. 

You will often work in harsh conditions

Life as an HVAC technician or installer isn’t always the most glamorous. You will be spending your days outdoors, usually on a roof for commercial service calls, in the elements. Here in Texas, the days you are busiest are usually the hottest days of the year. You’ll often be sweaty, hot, and tired.

What this means is that if you are looking for a career where you spend your time indoors all day cooped up in a cubicle or staring at a computer screen all day, HVAC isn’t it. The day-to-day of a technician requires hard work and endurance. While this isn’t meant to try and weed anyone out or scare people off from a rewarding career in this industry, it is important for anyone looking to pursue this kind of career to know what they are getting into.

People skills are just as important as technical skills

The HVAC world isn’t all about fixing air conditioners and tuning up furnaces. While the technical skills you’ll learn during training and apply every day during your work are obviously important and a big part of the job, there are other equally important skills to possess to be successful, such as customer service.

The reason a customer calls you is that they are having a bad day. Their air conditioner may have just busted on the hottest day of the year and they are looking at a large bill for a replacement or repair. Not everyone you deal with is going to be necessarily happy to see you. Being able to relate, communicate, and interact with your customers respectfully, fairly, and honestly is important for keeping tempers down, keeping customers happy, and building a positive reputation within your community.

The details are important

Just like any other career working on something intricate like rebuilding car engines in an auto shop, HVAC installations and repairs require finesse, focus, and an emphasis on attention to detail. Repairs and installations in the HVAC industry require dealing with often hazardous materials like electricity, fire, and refrigerant. A lack of care or attention can result in serious injury to yourself or those around you.

HVAC technicians also are responsible for very complex tasks like electrical wiring, brazing, and working with very small components of the units they service. One misstep, whether you skip a step in the process or are not thorough in your work can lead to not completing your job properly. This leaves your customers unsatisfied, unhappy, and you look unprofessional. Focus and attention to detail to do your job the right way the first time is a must.

There is a sea of opportunity waiting

The job can be difficult, but that shouldn’t deter anyone away interested in pursuing an HVAC career. Why? Well, the most important thing to know about the HVAC industry is it is an industry filled with opportunities. Right now, the world is facing a decline in available workers in many skilled trade industries including HVAC. That means for those who are willing to get their certification, there is almost a guarantee that you will be able to find a great job and pave your own way for professional growth, like starting your own company. 

Not only are there plenty of available jobs in the industry, but there is also an especially large need and opportunity for women to succeed in the industry as well. Regardless of gender, in the wake of the coronavirus as well, the world needs hardworking and knowledgeable HVAC technicians now more than ever.

Ready to start? The Training Center for Heating and Air Conditioning has classes running throughout the year! Check out our schedule and find the next session that works best for you.

Proper Acetylene Torch Safety

Proper Acetylene Torch Safety

As an HVAC technician, you will be expected to become proficient with a manner of different tools and pieces of equipment in order to obtain your certification. While some things like screwdrivers and pliers are obviously elementary, you’ll also need to learn more complex and even dangerous pieces of equipment such as acetylene torches.

Useful for a wide array of applications such as brazing copper connections, your acetylene torch is a best friend for HVAC technicians and a necessary piece of equipment for completing many installations and repairs for your customers’ heating and cooling systems.

However, as you may expect, acetylene torches are not a tool to be used lightly. Used carelessly, your handy torch can prove to be extremely dangerous. Painful burns and hazardous explosions can easily occur if you don’t treat your torch with the care and respect it deserves.

Acetylene torch safety is a topic we cover with our students in extreme depth as part of the HVAC training program here at the Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning in Houston, Texas. However, for incoming students or those interested in pursuing a career as an HVAC technician, coming in with an established mindset of safety and respect for this essential yet dangerous tool is a great way to give yourself an edge.

As you begin to educate yourself on what it takes to be an effective and safe HVAC technician, here are some acetylene torch safety tips you need to know and follow.

Always survey the area

Before you light your torch, it is essential that you check your surroundings and make sure it is a suitable area to do so. Make sure there are no flammable objects and that the area is properly ventilated. In many instances, it is a good idea to have a fire watch with you to have your back in case of trouble, or at the very least a fire extinguisher is present. If anyone in the present area isn’t qualified to do so, make sure they have vacated to a safe distance before beginning.

Always light with an approved striker

There is most certainly a right and wrong way to light your torch. Never use matches or a lighter to do so. These methods will put your hand too close to the flame and you will very likely burn your hands. Not to mention, the design of a common light essentially turns them into little pipe bombs when exposed to flame. Take any lighters off your person before you light your torch as well. When exposed to open flames or extreme heat they can combust.

Protective gear isn’t optional

It isn’t just encouraged to wear protection, it is an absolute must! Personal protective gear such as glasses and gloves are the absolute minimum. Consider the circumstances you are working around. If you grab a red hot, just brazed piece of copper, it will be extremely painful. Imagine unpleasant the feeling of melting skin is, and bad burns on the hands make tomorrow’s jobs much harder. Goggles will help prevent hot liquid silver from making its way into your eyes and causing serious, irreversible damage to your vision.

Follow OSHA rules

OSHA has particular rules that all acetylene torch operators need to adhere too. Such rules include the use of protective caps on torch bottles during transportation, storing oxygen separately from the fuel, storing bottles upright, never opening the fuel gas more than one turn, and if you are using a wrench-type valve, the wrench must stay in place for fast shut off if needed. 

Oxygen is extremely flammable

Oxygen is the most dangerous of the gasses in the torch set. When fire is exposed to pure oxygen it accelerates at an amazing rate and the risk of an explosion is greatly increased. People often think oxygen and air are the same thing, which leads to a misunderstanding of the explosive relationship between fire and oxygen. However, oxygen and air is not the same thing. Air is only a little over 21% oxygen, but the oxygen in your torch is almost 100% pure oxygen.

Never use without approved flame arrestors and valves

Flame arrestors, check valves, and flashback arrestors are safety measures that help keep your acetylene torch’s flame under control. Using these safety measures greatly reduces any chance of fire traveling back into the hoses and regulators and resulting in exposure to large quantities of oxygen.

Acetylene torch safety and care is so important for the well-being and effectiveness of an HVAC technician, which is why safety is a topic we cover in depth in our program. Learn more about our upcoming schedule of classes here.

4 Important HVAC Certifications for HVAC Technician to Know

4 Important HVAC Certifications for HVAC Technician to Know

While some careers simply require one degree in order to become an eligible candidate in the eyes of potential employers, HVAC isn’t quite as simple. While all it takes to succeed as an HVAC technician is an aptitude and a desire to learn a rewarding and skilled trade, there are certain, and usually multiple boxes, that employers and the state will need to see before you are likely to land a job as a heating and cooling tech.

The world of HVAC is filled with all sorts of different HVAC certifications. Some are required, some are not but can provide a tremendous boost to your skillset and appeal as a job candidate. It can all become a little confusing and disorienting to know where to start.

Let’s simplify things a little bit for you! Yes, there is a whole world of different accreditations you can get, but today let’s just focus on four of the most important HVAC certifications that everyone pursuing a career in the industry needs to have, or at the very least know the importance of.

HVAC Certification

Every HVAC technician needs to start somewhere, and that somewhere is graduating from an HVAC training program. In some states HVAC technicians are not required to have certification, but here in Texas technicians are required to have one of either a Class A license or a Class B license in the field of heating and air conditioning. 

Even if you are considering a career in HVAC in a state that doesn’t require certification, it is strongly recommended that you get this level of certification. Not only will it better prepare you for working in the field, but it will give you an enormous advantage during your job application process. Although not always required, most heating and cooling companies won’t employ you without certification.  

EPA 608 Certification

EPA 608 Certification is a required certification for HVAC technicians as part of the Clean Air Act because of the position’s requirements of dealing with equipment that has the potential to release refrigerant into the atmosphere. Refrigerants have been shown to contribute to buildup of Greenhouse gases and can have negative impacts on the environment. Not to mention, refrigerants can have adverse effects on human health too.

Depending on the equipment you will be handling, there are four different levels of certification you will need to obtain. As an HVAC technician, passing these tests and obtaining these levels of certification shows that you are proficient in safely and responsibly working with equipment that contains this potentially harmful substance.   

NATE Certification 

NATE Certification is one of the most highly-recognized and respected certifications in the HVAC industry. While not required to begin work in the HVAC industry, those who take the time to obtain NATE certification can further separate themselves from the crowd and are more likely to have a longer and more successful career.

There are four levels of NATE Certification one can achieve at different stages throughout the course of their HVAC career, from the entry-level Ready-To-Work Certificate to Senior Level Efficiency Analyst Certification that requires multiple years experience and multiple previous NATE Certifications. Each certification covers different levels of fundamental and specialty skills within the HVAC industry. 

HVAC Excellence Certification

HVAC Excellence Certification is a level of certification that is of use to HVAC technicians who may potentially be moving to different states and are unsure of the necessary qualification levels to practice in their new home state. This certification provides national recognition of one’s HVAC technical skills. 

However, this doesn’t replace state certification for those that require it. HVAC Excellence can simply help give you a leg up when dealing with potential employers as you round out your necessary certification.

Graduation from the Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning guarantees you your HVAC certification as well as certification for EPA 608. Our program will also help prepare you for other important HVAC certifications. Like NATE and HVAC Excellence, and give you advice and guidance on how to obtain them.

Begin a rewarding and fulfilling career as an HVAC technician in Houston, Texas by learning more about our program and our upcoming schedule of HVAC classes today.