Problems aren’t solved by people who don’t question…well…everything.
And, sometimes, the answers to the questions aren’t necessarily new. This week Kathy Jackson brought us her thoughts on a new / old solution to an relatively recent issue.
If you’ve been working in the HVAC service industry for a while, you’re probably (SHOULD BE!) well aware that the EPA is phasing out Freon (HCFC-22 or R-22) and plans to ban it completely by 2030. What will replace Freon? It’s a question on a lot of technicians’ minds. When looking to the future of refrigerants, it might be worthwhile to consider the past.
An efficient and effective refrigerant since the 1850s, Ammonia could experience a renaissance as Freon disappears from the market. If ammonia is so great, why did it fall out of favor to Freon in the 1920s? Toxicity. Ammonia can be as dangerous to humans as Freon is damaging to the environment.
Harnessing the risks of working with ammonia could prove less challenging than you’d think—and the benefits might be well worth it. Check out the quick facts about ammonia below to see why its use might become more widespread in the HVAC industry. Read more ›
Take a good look at your company’s employees, specifically your service crew, and answer this one simple question: How old are they? Most of you will find your technicians are in their 40s and 50s. You may have a couple of apprentices in their 20s or early 30s, but the bulk of your work force is made up of middle-aged employees. (For all you middle-aged technicians out there, don’t worry about being middle-aged; you’re worth your weight in gold.)
Now let’s take a little trip back in time to the late 80s and middle-90s, and take a look at the average HVAC company’s employee roster. The apprentices were in their late teens to early 20s. The first-year mechanics were in their mid- to late-20s. The seasoned technicians were 30 to 40, and the sales people, estimators and service managers were in their 50s and 60s.
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Technicians are quick to tell trainers “I’ve been doing this for 20 years”
And, we’ve all heard the old sayings, “Work smarter, not harder” Measure twice, cut once” “There’s no reason to re-invent the wheel” “Don’t eat the yellow snow” bla bla bla….
Training is darn close kin to “don’t re-invent the wheel”.
If you can learn from someone else’s mistakes, you don’t have to make them yourself. We never have enough time to do it right the first time, but we always have time to go back.
Don’t assume your team knows everything they need to know…you know what happens when you assume…you make an ass of you and me…and them…
Don’t be an ass, Invest in training
And stay away from that yellow snow!
There are 1st year technicians with 20 years of experience under their belt….and there are 20 year technicians who have 1 year’s experience under their belt….20 years in a row…don’t be that guy.
Your time in the trade doesn’t mean squat, it’s what you did with the time that counts.
Everyone talks about how they provide “Excellent Customer Service”, but what does Excellent Customer Service mean? If you ask 10 people, you’ll get 11 different answers.
Here’s an idea, lets look at what customers think Excellent Customer Service is…..I know, I know, crazy talk….what was I thinking.
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There are two terms you need to understand if you want to sound somewhat competent when describing a tower’s performance: Approach and Range.
Range is the temperature difference between the inlet water and the outlet water.
The formula is EWT (95℉) – LWT(85℉) = Range (10℉)
The higher the range, the more efficient the tower.
Approach is the difference between the outlet water temperature and the entering air wet bulb temperature.
The Higher the approach the less efficient the tower.
The formula is LWT (85℉) – WBT (78℉) = Approach (7℉)
One of our devout readers suggested we toss together some posts about cooling tower basics, maintenance, and troubleshooting. My first thought was- Good idea! My second thought was, why didn’t I think of that?
Cooling towers are like air handlers and pumps; very simple, yet so critical, and so misunderstood.
Because of the terrible under appreciation and lack of respect people have for these quiet giants of our industry, we are dedicating the next two weeks to these machines we all take for granted.
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From time to time someone asks about thermistor sensor averaging. Typical questions are:
- Why do I have to use four?
- Why do they have to be connected in series-parallel?
- What the heck is series parallel?
- Have you ever seen a rash like this before?
The answers are:
Interesting if you are mathematically inclined/deranged. Magical for folks like Patrick…(math hates him, and the feeling is mutual)
And, you should really see a doctor about that….
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Simple math, 10 people sitting in a room for an hour is not one hour, it is 10 hours.
Ten people averaging $35/hr sitting in a room for an hour costs $350
If those 10 people sitting in a room averaging $35/hr are technicians that would be billing out at $125/hr, the your meetings cost is not $350, it $1,600 ($125 x 10 +$350)
Not all meetings are bad, but ask yourself:
- Would I still have this meeting if I was going to be billed for the cost of the meeting?
- Is the value worth the cost?
- Are the right people in the meeting?
- Is the meeting necessary?
- What can I do to increase the value of the meeting?
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Electronics work just like you do; they determine what’s happening by looking at inputs like temperature and pressure, and decide what to do based on what they “see”.
The only difference between your brain and electronics is you use your eyes, ears, and hands to determine what’s happening, electronics uses sensors like thermistors and transducers.
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