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Tips For Finding a Great First HVAC Job

Tips For Finding a Great First HVAC Job

Tips For Finding a Great First HVAC Job

Graduating from the Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating and becoming a certified HVAC technician is an exciting time! You’ve just completed the first major step on your path to beginning a successful and fulfilling career. Now comes the next stepping stone: finding your first HVAC job.

Job hunting can be intimidating, but with the training and expertise you receive at the Training Center, you should have the confidence to take on any new challenges when it comes to beginning your career. 

As important as it is to land your first HVAC job and start putting your education into practice, it is just as important to find the right first HVAC job. Getting the right job starts your career on the right foot in an environment that you don’t just have the potential to succeed in but also enjoy!

As you begin your job search, use these simple tips to help you find the right environment for a successful first HVAC job.

Don’t be afraid to be picky

It’s important to get your first job under your belt, but that doesn’t mean you have to rush into the first opportunity that presents itself. HVAC technicians, and many other careers in skilled trades, are in extremely high demand as businesses look to fill their many job openings with a limited pool of skilled professionals.

That high demand means that you’ll likely have very little trouble finding available work, so you can take your time and be a little picky about the company you choose and really make sure you get your career started in the right environment. Don’t be afraid to take on multiple interviews and not jump at the first offer that comes your way in order to find the right company. 

Check their reviews

When you join a company, their reputation becomes your reputation. As you are doing research into potential companies to join it is important to know in advance how they do business and making sure they do things the right way. One of the best ways you can get an idea of the quality of work an HVAC company does and how it treats its customers is to check its online presence and reviews.

Check out their social media sites and their profile on Google to read what their customers say about their experience working with their technicians. Obviously, every review for every business isn’t going to be glowing but look for trends about comments on the quality of their work and the work ethic of their technicians. If there is a consistent pattern of less than stellar work, that is a sign of a company lacking accountability and likely not a very professional environment. If the opposite is true, however, that is a sign that the company has a deep passion for their work and would likely make a great first HVAC job.

Visit their location

As you are submitting resumes, even in the very digital world we live in, HVAC remains a very nuts and bolts kind of business. Showing up to a business’ location to hand-deliver your resume, shake hands with your potential employer, and introduce yourself in person can make a great first impression on a prospective employer. 

However, not only is visiting an HVAC business a great way to give you a leg up on the competition as they are making their hiring decisions, but it is also a great opportunity for you to get a lay of the land as well. You can use this opportunity to not only impress, but also get an evaluation of the office environment, potential coworkers, and culture to determine if it is indeed a company you would fit in well at.

Ask your training instructor

Not sure where to begin your search? Unsure of which companies in your area may be the best fit for you to start your HVAC career off? Your training instructor can be a fantastic resource! Their experience not only in the field but in the local community should give them a wealth of information as to what you should be looking for in a great first HVAC job and which companies in your area may be best to apply or look into.

Your instructor can also be a valuable resource as you are applying as well. You may consider asking them to write you a letter of recommendation as you narrow down your choices and begin doing interviews.

Chris Walters of the Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating has 38 years of experience in the HVAC industry and is a state subject matter expert on heating and cooling in Texas and Houston area. The education you receive here and the advice Chris can pass along from his vast experience will give you a huge leg up on the competition as you begin your search for your first HVAC job. 

Learn more about beginning your HVAC career at the Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating! And, once you land your first interview, be sure to use these tips to make sure you land your dream job.  

Why HVAC Technicians are Heroes

Why HVAC Technicians are Heroes

There are a lot of very noble professions out there that people often consider heroes, from firefighters, doctors and nurses, or police officers. While it is undeniable that these professions are full of brave, hardworking, and heroic men and women, there is one profession out there that is very much made up of heroes in their own right that may not get the same recognition: HVAC technicians.

While this proclamation may surprise you, the men and women that work as HVAC technicians are indeed heroes, even if they don’t get the same kind of recognition as others. Every characteristic you look for to consider someone a “hero” is met and exceeded by those that proudly serve their communities. 

Here are the four biggest reasons why HVAC technicians are heroes of their community. 

HVAC techs possess a special skill

Inspecting, installing, and maintaining heating and cooling systems requires a very specific set of special skills that you can only get from dedicating time to furthering your education and getting certified. That is to say, it isn’t a job just anyone has the capability, knowledge, or skills to do! Part of what being a hero is about is providing a service that few can. Because of it, lots of people depend on you, often when they need help the most.

HVAC techs help those in need

If you still don’t think HVAC technicians are heroes, picture this scenario: in the middle of one of our hot Houston summers, your air conditioner dies. For those who are elderly or have other unique health conditions, extreme heat isn’t just uncomfortable, it can be fatal. A call to someone to come out to fix your air conditioning or furnace comes at a desperate time, and the person making it is going to come out of the transaction extremely thankful to their new hero who just came in to cool their house down and restore comfort to you and your family.

HVAC techs aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty

The daily challenges of an HVAC technician can take them to some pretty interesting places. They are often out working when the weather is at its hottest and coldest. They have to get up on roofs, inside crawl spaces, in between tight spots, and many other precarious places all in the course of doing their job. It can be a dirty job, but someone has to do it! The conditions they work in and places they work are all in the name of helping those in need, so you won’t hear them complain. It’s all in a day’s work.

HVAC are there when people need them

Part of being a hero is being there for those in need. If an air conditioner goes out on a Friday night, that person likely won’t be able to afford to wait until Monday to have your phone call returned. They need help right away to be able to beat the heat. A hero is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and so is a good HVAC technician. They are available whether it is record-breaking high or low temperatures – in fact, when the weather is at its worst, they are at their busiest.

Interested in a career in HVAC? A career in skilled labor is extremely rewarding, has lots of opportunity for growth, has an abundant amount of career opportunities, and can help you become a hero for those in need. 

If you are in the Houston, Texas area and want to start your career path, start it here at The Training Center for Air Conditioning and Heating. Learn more about upcoming classes and what you’ll learn over our 14-week courses here.

Maintaining Your HVAC Certification After Graduation

Maintaining Your HVAC Certification After Graduation

You’ve completed your education and received your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning certification, but how do you maintain your certification? Certification is one of the most important qualities that the customer is going to be looking for, so it is crucial that you have the right certifications if you want to get work as an HVAC technician. 

Certified or licensed HVAC technicians earn their credentials through their studies and work experience. Not all states require licensing, but even in states with no formal licensing requirements, employers usually prefer job applicants with professional certifications. 

In the states that do require licensing, applicants must pass a written exam like the one we provide for our students. For example, Texas accepts a passing score on the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) exam for HVAC technicians in addition to registration with the state government.

It is important to keep your certification up to date and ensure it does not expire. Depending on the type of certification you receive, the expiration date may vary. Some certifications never expire while others need to be renewed every five years

Types of Certifications

There are multiple types of certifications you can receive including EPA Section 608 Certification, HVAC Excellence Certification, NATE Certification, and more. Each certification is just as important as the other because different states have different licensing requirements for HVAC technicians. However, one of these is recognized across all the states, unlike the rest.

EPA Section 608 Certification

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires everyone with access to a system or container storing refrigerant gas to receive certification. Every HVAC technician has to ensure that the refrigerants used in the systems are handled appropriately because of regulations set forth in the Clean Air Act. Some HVAC certifications are based on specific sections of the Clean Air Act, such as Section 608. 

The good news is that Section 608 certification never expires. However, if you lose your certification card, you may have to retake the test depending on your situation.

HVAC Excellence Certification

This non-profit organization was founded in 1994 to improve the technical competency of the HVAC industry through validation of the technical education process. The certification process and the areas of study are similar to those utilized by NATE, though this organization covers the electrical aspects of heating and air conditioning with separate examinations.

The HVAC Excellence certification is really a blanket term for a series of specialized certifications. These range from basic to master-level certifications that require varying levels of preparation. The two more prestigious of these certifications are known as the “Professional Level” and the “Master Specialist Level” and require renewal after five years.

NATE Certification

Being able to obtain the North American Technician Excellence certification at the start of your career can only help your reputation as a technician. The NATE certification shows that you have been properly trained and have learned how to specialize in a particular area. 

With NATE, you can customize your certification to your specific needs or employer’s requirements. These certifications must be renewed every two years. Renewal requires either submitting 16 continuing education hours every two years or retaking the specialty exam only, before the end of the two-year certification period.

Maintaining Certification

The HVAC industry is a growing industry that continues to attract more people. At some point in the future, there will most likely be a surplus of qualified HVAC technicians. This is where receiving your certification puts you ahead of the competition. After receiving your certification, it is important that you maintain your certification by renewing it when necessary. 

Here at The Training Center of Air Conditioning & Heating in Texas, we can provide you with the resources to become a great HVAC technician. If you are ready to make a career change, be sure to learn more about our program and the classes we have to offer.

What Skills Do You Need to Succeed in a HVAC Career?

What Skills Do You Need to Succeed in a HVAC Career?

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry is expected to grow 14% before 2024 – double the typical growth for most industries. Becoming an HVAC technician is a great way to ensure your skills will always be in demand. Besides the technical skills, in this field, technicians also use practical skills that lead them to success.

Communication Skills

For those looking to step foot into the HVAC industry, it is important that you know how to communicate calmly and effectively with those you encounter. When working with many clients, it is important to understand that these clients may be stressed since things are not working the way they are supposed to.

You will need to be able to effectively explain what you are doing in order to help solve the problem at hand. A majority of your customers will not know the technical terms of the industry. Because of this, you will need to be able to explain what you are doing in a way that your customers will be able to understand. 

Clients already have high standards for anyone they choose to hire for HVAC work. By explaining the procedures, they will be much more comfortable and confident in your abilities as a technician. 

Problem Solving Skills

Troubleshooting is one of the most important skills someone can possess in the HVAC industry. A majority of the time, technicians will receive a call about a system before they have a chance to diagnose the problem. Being able to effectively identify an issue is just one skill necessary to be successful at problem-solving. However, a job may not always be as straightforward as it seems.

When the problem is different than what you originally thought, some quick, creative thinking will help you get the job done. This requires asking the client some questions and working with the system to see what may have failed. The faster you can figure out the problem and design a solution to fix it, the more effective you will be as a technician. 

Organization Skills

Many technicians deal with multiple calls a day and they have to be able to efficiently finish each task in order to move on to the next call without delay. Staying organized is a large part of being successful as a technician. You must be able to maintain accurate records of each visit, the work that was performed, and any equipment that was used.

Customer Service Skills

Any job where you will be interacting with clients regularly requires excellent customer service skills. Interacting with homeowners, property managers, and building superintendents takes a certain level of finesse that a great technician should have.

Clients often expect a professional attitude and general regard for the customer. As an HVAC technician, 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. 

Developing Your Skills

There are many skills necessary for you to succeed in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry. There will always be HVAC systems which means there will always be people that need repairs and replacements. To be successful in this industry, you need to have an exceptional list of skills and strengths. This may sound difficult, but for the right kind of person, it’s a fun, rewarding, and challenging career.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can succeed in the HVAC industry, contact us today.

Common Misconceptions About HVAC Careers

Common Misconceptions About HVAC Careers

For anyone interested in a career that is rewarding, interesting, secure, and lets you use your skills to help others, the path of an HVAC service technician can offer all of that and more. But even so, the HVAC trade, like many skilled labor careers, sometimes meets its fair share of misconceptions.

Whether it’s because of preconceived notions, uninformed decision-making, or simply the fact that it may not be a job full of glitz and glam, these misconceptions can sometimes drive people who may find themselves to be a natural fit away.

If you are interested in a career in HVAC in the Houston area but are second-guessing yourself, let us help put your mind at ease. We are here to set the record straight and bust some myths on four common HVAC career misconceptions.

You need a background in the field to get started

Some people shy away from pursuing a career in HVAC because they feel they don’t have the background in skilled labor, working with their hands, or any prior knowledge HVAC. However, that is far from the actual case!

While having a background or basic understanding of HVAC certainly won’t hurt you, the training you’ll receive at The Training Center of Air Conditioning & Heating teaches students everything they need for an entry-level HVAC technician position. As long as you have the commitment and drive to work hard, you can succeed and become a certified HVAC tech even if you don’t have prior skills in the field.

It takes a long time to get certified

The kind of education you receive at a trade school is not as well understood as the format of your typical college. Therefore, lots of people assume trade schools follow the similar 4+ year requirement, which many don’t have the time or money to commit to.

In actuality, completing HVAC training and gaining your certification takes significantly shorter! Courses at The Training Center of Air Conditioning & Heating take just 14 weeks to complete, covering 16 subjects. With classes offered three times a year and the option for morning or evening classes Monday through Thursday, not only can you get certified in a short period of time, but you can do it on the schedule that works best for you.

HVAC is not a financially rewarding career

HVAC technicians, like many of those working in other skilled trades, sometimes face the perception that because of its hard work and labor requirements, it is a less than rewarding career financially. However, because of the unique skill the job requires and the ever-growing demand for skilled AC technicians in Texas, a career in HVAC is quite a rewarding career indeed.

CareerExplorer estimates the average HVAC technician in Texas can earn about $45k per year, with potential to earn anywhere up to $75k per year. The average is comparable to other similar skilled trades like plumbers and electricians. Clearly, anyone who thinks a career in a skilled trade like HVAC is not rewarding is quite mistaken.

There aren’t any opportunities for young HVAC techs

If you are interested in a career that offers variety, excitement, and a clear path to grow and succeed, look no further than a career in HVAC. There has never been a higher demand for skilled workers, especially in HVAC, than right now. And it is only going to go up from here!

Over the next decade, BLS is projecting that the aging majority of most skilled laborers are going to open up a large number of opportunities for young, up and coming laborers to enter an industry that is already facing a shortage of workers. That means there aren’t just opportunities to find technician jobs that will have high job security, but there are also opportunities to eventually grow beyond just being a technician by starting your own business or training the next wave of workers as an instructor.

Despite what perceptions may exist, a career in HVAC is one that is filled with the excitement of seeing new places, meeting new people, earning a competitive salary, utilizing an invaluable skill, and offering a service to folks that is genuinely valued and needed.

Interested in starting your HVAC career? HVAC professionals and service technicians, even entry-level ones, will rarely struggle to find work in the southern US and here in Texas. Learn more about the programs offered here at The Training Center of Air Conditioning & Heating and start your career path today!

Gas Heat Furnaces: An Overview

Gas Heat Furnaces: An Overview

A home with natural gas hookups likely uses gas to power the furnace as well as the stove. In your HVAC career, you’ll encounter a fair number of gas heat furnaces that need repairs or maintenance. Since these heating systems work quite differently from electrical furnaces, it’s important to know how both should typically work and the crucial differences in their makeup and functions.

A gas heat furnace has its pros and cons compared to an electric heating system, as well as significant differences in energy efficiency and how the system works. A gas furnace also has the potential to be dangerous to the occupants of the home if not installed or repaired correctly. Before you start work on a gas furnace, keep yourself well-informed of what to expect and how to handle the machine.

Gas-powered furnaces need different types of work and repairs than electrical heating systems. Do you know the differences? Learn how gas furnaces work and how to repair them here. #TheTrainingCenterofAirConditioningandHeating Click To Tweet

How Gas Furnaces Work

Gas furnaces usually run on natural gas piped into the home from a utility company. If the home doesn’t have natural gas hookups, the fuel will likely be propane from specialized tanks. A propane provider will periodically visit the home to refill the tank and keep the heater running.

Propane typically enters a furnace gas valve at a maximum of 11 inches of water gauge pressure as measured by the proper manometer. Once the propane furnace is running, the actual manifold pressure is usually about 10 inches. Natural gas pressure tends to be about the same amount, averaging about 10.5 inches at the entry point. However, when the furnace is running, the manifold pressure of natural gas will drop to about 3.5 inches of water. Check the nameplate on the furnace to determine which pressure level you should be seeing.

If you take a look at a gas furnace, you’ll see the box is maybe 4-5 ft. long and contains a fan and the furnace itself. One end connects to the duct coming from the filter grill. The other end of the furnace connects to the AC evaporator coil. The fan pulls air from the air filter and, if the furnace is running, it warms the air below and sends it along the ductwork throughout the house. Since the heated air passes through the evaporator coil, it’s just as important to keep the AC coil clean in the winter as it is during the summer. A dirty evaporator coil can cause a furnace to overheat and pose a fire hazard.

A gas furnace and its accompanying flue pipe also requires open space around it (typically 30 inches) to keep them both away from potentially flammable objects. This is especially important for the flue pipe since, even with its double-walled material, it can still get very hot. As the exhaust pipe of the gas heater, the flue handles a lot of hot air. The pipe’s sealant must be sturdy to keep hazardous gases such as carbon monoxide from escaping, and the pipe must never be closer than 1 inch to wood or flammable materials or it poses a significant fire hazard.

A properly installed gas heater connects to the thermostat and waits for the signal to turn on. The thermostat receives 24 volts from the red T stat wire and sends the power to the furnace through a white wire, which activates the furnace. The furnace sparks the gas inside to create heat and begin warming the whole house.

Pro Tip: Propane and natural gas furnaces are designed for very specific and very different fuel sources. NEVER try to run a propane furnace with natural gas or vice versa! The differences in pressure will lead to severe problems.

Running a Gas Furnace

When installed correctly, a gas furnace runs like this:

  • The combustion fan motor, a special fan that pushes or pulls air through the fire box, activates for about 30 seconds. Any raw gas in the sparking area is flushed out through the roof. A small pressure switch connected to this fan tells the thermostat the fan is running. Once the thermostat gets the signal from the switch that the purge fan is on and has run for 30 seconds without a problem, the next step begins.
  • The thermostat checks that all the safety switches are in the proper open or closed positions. Located in several places on the furnaces, these switches detect overheating or other potential dangers. If these switches are in the proper position, the thermostat keeps moving forward.
  • The thermostat sends power to the hot surface igniter until it glows red hot. If you have a spark igniter furnace, this is when it starts sparking. The thermostat can even tell if the hot surface igniter is hot or not by measuring how much resistance it gives the electricity.
  • Now that the furnace has a spark or red hot igniter, it opens the gas valve and lets in a little gas. As the gas travels past either the sparker or the hot surface igniter, it lights.
  • Using a flame sensor, the thermostat verifies that the gas ignited safely.
  • The thermostat then activates the main gas and lights the main burners. Now the furnace is fully in heating mode with up to 100,000 BTUs of heat being created.
  • Finally, the thermostat turns on the main house fan and start blowing the heated air all around the house. Eventually, the temperature will reach the maximum specified by the homeowner and the thermostat will deactivate the heater. If the thermostat sense any problems or potential dangers, it will immediately deactivate both the heater and gas and potentially place both into lockout mode to prevent an accident.

Troubleshooting a Gas Furnace

One important step in troubleshooting a gas furnace is to pay attention to the circuit card, a computer card inside the thermostat. A diagnostic light on the card will flash at a certain rate to indicate the necessary repairs. Always take note of the flash rate in case you have to reset the light–this is valuable information that helps you determine the problem.

To diagnose the issue, try to ignite the furnace and watch each step as it happens. As soon as you notice the furnace faltering on a particular step, you’ve discovered the potential source of the problem. Work from there to find the answer.

Pay attention to the flue pipe as well. An older, less efficient furnace will likely have a flue pipe that tends to stay very hot and very dry, since about 20% of the generated heat was wasted through exhaust fumes. However, newer high-efficiency furnaces will waste far less heat (to the point that plastic piping is often safe to use for their flues) and thus may allow moisture to collect in the flue pipe. The furnace then collects and disposes of the moisture. These kinds of furnaces are called condensing furnaces. Check your manual and manufacturer’s recommendations to determine the proper type of flue pipe for each heater.

The length of the flue pipe is also important. Calculate the length of pipe extending outside the home based on the roof’s pitch and the manufacturer’s recommendation. If you overcompensate and make the extension far too long, you run the risk of the pipe breaking off in high winds and allowing deadly exhaust gases back into the home. Support the flue pipe very firmly and never make the exhaust portion too long. When the life of your client is in your hands, it’s better to be overly cautious than to just meet minimum standards.

A client’s air filter might also be a cause for concern. To see if the filter is causing the problem, watch the flame in the furnace. A normal furnace flame is bright blue. Any yellow flames indicate incomplete combustion caused by poor air flow through a dirty filter. This is a serious condition that you must address immediately. Until the flame is blue again, the problem is not resolved.

Finally, do you have all the tools necessary to work on gas furnaces? Check your HVAC supplies and make sure you own all of the following equipment:

  • Gas pressure tester
  • Combustion analyzer
  • 3 amp fuses

Above all, remember that while trial and error is typically a legitimate way to learn, it is drastically unsafe to experiment with gas heaters. Even the slightest mistake could lead to potentially deadly consequences for the homeowners. Never take a guess or try to figure out something unfamiliar on your own. Consult an expert or the manufacturer when necessary. An abundance of caution is far better than rushing a job and making a dangerous mistake.

Providing Excellent Work to your Clients

Working on a gas heat furnace presents its own set of challenges that an electrical system won’t have. Fortunately, with the right amount of study and hands-on practice with both kinds of heating systems, you’ll be well-prepared to help your clients keep their homes warm this winter.

Connect with us to learn how to jump-start your new HVAC career!