Common HVAC Technician career options
Once an HVAC technician, always a HVAC technician?
Don’t bet on it.
The average age of an HVAC technician is around forty-seven years old. And while forty-seven isn’t anywhere close to being too old to swing wrenches, you may want a change of career scenery after doing the same thing for thirty+ years. This series of posts will address typical ‘Next-Step’ career paths for HVAC technicians who possibly want climb a few rungs of the career ladder. We’ll cover what is needed to progress to the various jobs and what the benefits and draw backs are for each. The chart above represents typical advancements in our field and the difficulty associated in the jump to each. Peruse the chart, send us any questions you may have, and we will address the first steps needed for each progression.
Together they let you take a peek into the inner workings of the magic known as refrigeration, separately they’re about useless.
It seems everyone is fascinated with super heat. They’re quick to add refrigerant if the superheat is “high”, or start cranking on the TXV adjustment if it’s “low”.
First, “high” and “low” are pretty darn arbitrary references. What the heck is high? What’s “low”? What’s just right? (sounds like Goldy Locks and the three technicians….) Read more ›
There are a billion ways to ball up an installation or replacement of HVAC equiptment…give or take a million.
Fortunately, one of the most common mistakes is also easily avoidable; setting the unit.
From access concerns to performance issues, there’s more to locating HVAC equipment than keeping the arrow on the ‘This End Up’ sticker pointing skyward.
There are three primary placement concerns, and they’re as easily to remember as SOS.
Read more ›
The reversing valve; the second most confusing part of a heat pump
(Yes, the defrost board still holds first place for the most confusing part)
So, what’s the confusion about heat pump reversing valves?
The confusion is understandable; a big round cylinder with three large tube connections on top, a smaller connection on the bottom (wait, there’s both a top and bottom?) and a miniature solenoid valve with three tiny tubes hanging off the side…scary.
The reversing valve is the heart of a heat pump, without it, there is no heat pump.
The good news is they’re easy to troubleshoot, once you understand its purpose and how it operates.
Read more ›
In Emily Prieffer’s article, The construction industry’s top workforce challenge — and 3 potential solutions, she found that 69% of general contractors are having a tough time filling craft positions. While the article is based on the construction industry its close relative, the service industry, is having the same issue.
What’s a craft position? In the 2000’s craft positions were called “Skilled Labor”, “The Trades” in the nineties and “Blue Collar” in the eighties.
Whatever you call them, they include:
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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 a 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.
Ammonia could experience a renaissance as Freon disappears from the market. Since the 1850’s ammonia has been an efficient and effective refrigerant. If ammonia is so great, why did it fall out of favor to Freon in the 1920s?
One word; Toxicity. Ammonia can be as dangerous to humans as Freon is damaging to the environment.
Mitigating the risks of ammonia could prove less challenging than you’d think. The benefits might be well worth it. Check out the quick facts below to see why ammonia might become more widespread in the HVAC industry.
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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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HVAC 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!