HVAC technicians live a fulfilling and rewarding profession, perfect for anyone looking for a skilled profession in the trades. But, as rewarding of a career as it is, it is a job where professionals need to maintain vigilance at all times and practice extreme safety at all times from the potential hazards they may face.
The nature of a HVAC tech’s job can put them in some precarious positions due to where they work, how they work, and the equipment they work with. Both current and aspiring HVAC technicians as well as those looking to operate their own HVAC business need to be aware at all times of the hazards they and their employees face during the course of their work day and how they can best take the necessary steps to avoid them and be as safe as possible at all times.
During the dog days of summer here in Houston, life can be a little rough for air conditioning technicians. They work long hours in hot conditions running from job to job with often very little downtown in between. All of this can put a great strain on technicians and cause a tremendous amount of fatigue. When HVAC technicians become fatigued they run the risk of making mistakes or losing alertness which won’t just result in poor service and installation but can also put them and their customers at risk of harm from many of the hazards we are about to cover, potentially falling asleep at the wheel between jobs, and dehydration.
It is important during the course of a work day for HVAC technicians and the company that employs them to take the necessary precautions to avoid fatigue to ensure safety and performance. Technicians need to make sure they stay hydrated throughout the day, take breaks for rest when necessary, don’t skip over meals, and alert their employers or dispatches when rest is necessary. HVAC employers also need to be aware of their workers’ needs and schedule their jobs accordingly.
Particularly when working on commercial heating and cooling systems, HVAC technicians will often find themselves in some fairly high environments whether they are on top of a roof or on a ladder accessing ductwork or vents in a ceiling or attic space. In these situations, the dangers of falling from a high location is very real and can result in serious bodily harm.
Any technician that will be working at heights needs to practice extreme caution. Always check and double check the location of ladders and scaffolding you need to use to ensure it is sturdy and secure to use. Always have a spotter when you can and in extremely high environments, the use of a safety harness should always be insisted upon.
In between the open flame used in some heating equipment, the natural heat that air conditioning and furnaces can produce, equipment sitting in the hot sun, and soldering (which is a practice that is sometimes used during HVAC installations and repairs) the average HVAC technician has no shortage of opportunities to burn themselves both mildly and severely.
Practicing the utmost caution around hot or potentially hot equipment is a must for technicians, especially here in Houston. Always try and make sure equipment is cool before you start working on it, but also be sure to wear the appropriate protection of heat-resistant gloves when it is appropriate for extra protection. Even on a hot day, long sleeves can help protect your arms from incidental contact with hot objects.
HVAC work involves frequently interacting with electrical equipment and wiring. One false step can mean you face harmful electrocution. Not only is electrocution harmful to the technician, but if fatigue is also a factor, a live exposed wire left unattended could also mean harm to the person they are servicing.
Electric shock can happen in an instant, and it can be difficult to tell if a wire is live or not. Therefore, safety against electrocution should be one of the primary concerns of HVAC technicians at all times. Always carry the proper equipment necessary to test the charge of wires before interacting with them and always be sure to wear protective gloves when working with electricity. If necessary, you may also consider shutting off the power to the area you are working on prior to beginning service as an extra precaution.
Safety is a very important aspect of being a successful HVAC technician and safety is also a primary focus of what we teach here at the Training Center for Heating and Air Conditioning. Our instructor, Chris Walters, takes an extensive amount of time dedicated to teaching and reinforcing proper HVAC safety to avoid these common HVAC hazards.
Learn more about enrollment in a future class today.
Customers have high standards for anyone they choose to hire for HVAC work. After all, few people would debate that a well-maintained ventilation system is essential for comfortable living in a hot city like Houston. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to prove that you’re worth your clients’ trust.
Signs of a Good HVAC Contractor
Just as clients look for potential red flags when searching for someone to hire, they also look for “green flags”–in other words, good signs about a potential hire. By doing your best to know and display those green flags, you can earn yourself more loyal customers! Here are a few of these good signs:
- Fully in compliance with applicable laws
- State-of-the-art HVAC units and equipment
- Quality work and service
- Written warranty
- Emergency services
- Excellent testimonials
1) Fully in Compliance with Applicable Laws
Most states require extensive licensing for anyone working in the HVAC field or handling coolants in their work. In addition to providing proof of a license, make sure you’re familiar with the EPA’s standards for indoor air quality and can demonstrate your adherence to them in your work. Your clients will be glad to know they can trust you to comply with legal requirements and maintain a high standard in your work.
2) State-of-the-Art HVAC Units and Equipment
Clients want the best for their home HVAC systems, even if that means the units they end up purchasing are expensive. A quality air conditioning or heating unit will last a long time, require few repairs, and save the homeowner money on their energy bills. Are you able to offer these exceptional units to your clients? Do you know how to work on them with excellent results?
Pro Tip: Take the time to evaluate your tool collection as well. Does anything need replacing? The quality of your work is directly related to the quality of your tools.
3) Quality Work and Service
Anyone with excellent customer service skills but no knowledge of an HVAC system makes a poor air conditioning technician. Likewise, you can have extensive knowledge of how home ventilation systems work, but without customer service skills, you may not be rehired. Learn to strike the proper balance of excellent work and approachability to best appeal to a wide range of clients.
4) Written Warranty
Even if the HVAC hardware and parts come with a written warranty, what about the work you do on them? Clients will generally feel far more comfortable knowing that hardware and labor alike is backed by a guarantee in writing. Make sure you can provide this for your customers, whether on your own or through your HVAC employer.
5) Emergency Services
A home’s heating and cooling systems are essential to homeowners’ comfort. If the AC stops working in the middle of a hot Houston summer, the HVAC technician had better be available to come and fix it immediately! Offering 24/7 emergency heating and air conditioning services will go a long way toward keeping and retaining clients.
6) Excellent Testimonials
Finally, customers still love seeing good ratings and glowing customer reviews. Make sure to request good reviews from satisfied customers, and reach out to try solving any problems mentioned in negative reviews. The more positive stories you have to share, the better your chances at gaining new customers will be!
Earn Clients Through Quality Services
Ultimately, clients look for a candidate that can provide both quality HVAC work and excellent customer service. If you can show that you are able to provide both, not only will potential new clients seek you out, but your previous clients will also be likely to hire you a second time for future work. Hard work and good service will pay off!
Connect with us to learn more about marketing yourself as an HVAC contractor.
If you have been in the HVAC industry for any time at all, you are aware of the massive technician shortage. If you have been in it for decades like many experts have, you are aware this shortage is nothing new. Waiting for this problem to solve itself has not worked in the past and will still not be effective today.
Conventional job search methods, whether newspaper ads or online job postings, are not nearly as effective as they once were in a technical industry. In recent years, more modern methods such as training schools have shown much more promise in creating skilled, dedicated workers. Let’s take a look at what the facts show.
Unreliable Recruitment Methods
Most contractors have tried everything to find technicians, from the newspaper ads of a few years ago to the online job postings of today. The result is usually the same. Either these calls for workers get no responses or attract poor workers who can’t perform. Since good technicians usually don’t have any problem finding a job, they spend far less time searching and thus rarely see these postings. This leaves a contractor in a bad place when trying to grow a business or just keep it running through normal attrition.
At times, a desperate contractor will poach technicians from another business with the promise of additional pay. For instance, some HVAC technicians will find business cards on their service trucks that say, in a nutshell, “I will pay you more than you currently make–call me!” While this method is common, this just breeds service techs that jump companies for additional pay rather than the overall value of that company. If this is your business’s chosen method, don’t expect loyalty from a tech that jumped just for a few dollars. There is a better way.
Get More HVAC Technicians Quickly
Training your own employees is the solution. Who do you know that could be a great technician if they only had proper training? Find a training school that really does teach what is needed. This fast, efficient method of education can give you a quick return on your investment.
Pro Tip: Find a training facility that can balance time commitments with excellent results. HVAC skills may not need years to teach, but can’t be learned overnight either.
Questions to Ask a Potential Training Center
Finding the right tech school requires asking just a few questions until you find one that checks all your boxes.
Questions should include:
- How much of the class is hands-on?
- How many hours will they practice Brazing?
- Will they get to actually build up complete systems?
- How many different refrigerants will they get to recover and charge?
- Is there a hands-on final exam covering the entire learning experience?
- Will they get to remove motors, blowers, fans, and blades from working systems?
- Will they get to do lots of performance testing with superheat and subcooling methods?
- Will they learn how to use a ductulator?
- Was the program taken from a book or custom made based on years of experience?
- Finally, what is the cost and how long does it take to complete?
Be Part of the Solution
If you come to the realization that getting trained technicians will never happen if you do not become part of the solution you will never see a solution to your technician shortage. Invest in your company’s future by investing in training your own hires and you will never have a technician shortage.
Connect with us to learn more about the classes we offer and our students’ ultimate success rates in the HVAC field.
Any job where you’ll be interacting with customers regularly requires excellent customer service skills. Considering the nature of an HVAC career, where you regularly enter your clients’ homes to examine their AC units and discuss plans for repairs, customer service is more than required to be successful.
As an HVAC technician, you’ll spend a good part of your workday talking to customers. Good customer service skills are absolutely essential to maintain strong relationships with your clients and build your long-term career. Let’s look at just a few customer service skills to develop for a future career in the HVAC field.
Respect the Clients’ Home
The majority of jobs you’ll be working on will be in someone’s house or apartment. Though it’s a more relaxed environment than an office, remember that you’re a guest in their home. Ask the homeowners’ permission before sitting on any furniture, using their bathroom, etc. Make as little of a mess as possible and clean everything up before you leave. Your ultimate goal should be to make it appear that, except for the now-working air conditioning unit, there’s no evidence you were ever there.
Pro Tip: If you’re replacing a faulty unit, ask the homeowner what they’d like done with the old one. Some don’t mind if it sits in the yard before being hauled off, but some prefer to conceal it in the meantime.
Develop Courteous Communication Skills
How well do you communicate? Coming across as too rigid will make your customers wonder if you’re upset while being too friendly could make clients uncomfortable. Your job is to find the perfect balance. Professional speech and behavior is sure to spark confidence in your clients.
There are times, however, when you can and should be understanding. Remember, no client plans for an expensive repair such as a faulty air conditioning system. While your ultimate job is to analyze and fix the problem, you should also offer empathy to the customer as they plan to handle this issue. Work with them as best you can to fix their ventilation systems quickly and to their satisfaction.
Present a Professional Image
You might have the best empathy and communication skills in the world, but if you show up to a job in filthy clothes and leave trash around the house as you work, your customers will lose faith in you rather quickly. A huge part of customer service is presenting a professional image. Along with the professional behavior required for your job, make sure your work clothes and vehicle send the same message. Most of all, remember that actions speak louder than words. Even with professional behavior to back you up, your client is not likely to call you back or recommend you if they have to clean up a mess once you’re gone.
Developing Great Customer Service Skills
When dealing with a professional, such as an HVAC technician, clients expect a professional attitude and a regard for the customer. As an HVAC worker, demonstrating excellent customer service to your clients will leave an excellent impression on them and encourage them to call you again the next time their air conditioning breaks down. Your investment in bettering your professional image could earn you new customers and repeat jobs!
Join the conversation to learn more about great customer service in the HVAC world.