The future of HVAC work

I swore I would never go back to high school.

  • I had barely survived it the first time, eeking out a diploma during summer school after all of my friends had graduated.

Since then I have done very well for myself, despite my history of poor grades and arguing with my teachers. Then one day my old English teacher called me and asked if I would speak to his class. These were kids at risk of failing out or dropping out, and she thought I could get through to them. After all, I used to be just like them, and now I have my own HVAC company, which could give them hope of finding success out in the world. After school one day I went to the same old English classroom, with the same old teacher, and a group of disaffected young people who couldn’t have cared less about English or HVAC work. So I just started writing out numbers on the chalkboard, starting with the base hourly rate of pay for a new HVAC technician just starting out. I started writing other numbers, like how many hours a week they work, what the shift differential was for late shifts and being on-call for HVAC emergencies. They might not have cared about fixing air conditioners, but when I showed them how much it paid, they paid attention real quick. On another chalkboard I started writing out the numbers for what it costs to get your HVAC certification and starting off in the business. They all realized it was financially smart to look into a future of HVAC work.

 

 

Local HVAC

Climate control for a marijuana grow

Although I have a full time job with a local contractor, I also do freelance work. I do a lot less of it these days, because I am just so busy all the time, but if I get an interesting offer I will field it. An old friend of mine from high school reached out to me a few weeks ago with something I had to see to believe. His name is Mike, and he wanted an off-the-books inspection of his new place, to see what work needed to be done, but he didn’t want to have a written record of it. He was converting an old warehouse into a marijuana grow, and needed to renovate the old HVAC system they had. Since it was a warehouse, it had a massive industrial size HVAC system, which had not been serviced in many years. We discussed his specific needs for climate control, and I decided that the old system didn’t need to be fixed anyway. This place used to be for cold products, but weed plants needed a different set of climate control parameters, with higher amounts of humidity and warmth. The only air conditioning they would need was in the break room for the workers ,because the plants would not need it! It only took a few days, but I got all of his HVAC needs taken care of quietly, and for cash money that we don’t need to report to Uncle Sam. As a bonus for my HVAC work, I can buy weed from the guy at wholesale cost whenever I want!

Indoor comfort business

A traveling HVAC repair tech

Livestock barns have extensive ductwork systems, and the high end horse farms use heating systems in all of the animal stalls, and these are the sort of things I work on

When you have the right skills to make money, you can literally go wherever you like and do whatever you choose. I have been a traveling man for some years now, entirely by choice. I have the skills to land a job within days of getting into any new town. Usually I work “gigs” instead of jobs. A gig is a contract, a single piece of work, or work for a certain length of time, instead of signing up with an employer permanently. I work mostly in rural areas, deep into farming country, where people still believe in handshakes over paperwork and cash over credit. In the city, and most towns as well, there are an abundance of options for HVAC work, but the further you get in the country, the fewer options you have. Bottom line, there simply isn’t enough work out here to sustain an HVAC business, but there is enough for a traveling repair tech to stop by once or twice a year. Livestock barns have extensive ductwork systems, and the high end horse farms use heating systems in all of the animal stalls, and these are the sort of things I work on. I will rent a hotel room nearby, and spend a few days going through the area, knocking on doors and offering my HVAC services. I am not a salesman, which is what worries people, I am just an HVAC repair tech who offers his services. Other than that I have nothing to sell! But as long as people have HVAC systems, I will be able to find work.

cooling corporation

The geothermal heat pump paid for itself

One time a hurricane knocked out the power for this whole neighborhood for an entire week, and with temps in the upper 90s I don’t know I would have survived without air conditioning! But because I had this geothermal heat pump, I was the only house for a mile in every direction that still had full power

This deep into the south, we have a lot of issues to contend with that northern folk never think about. First and foremost I mean the bugs, because the hot, muggy conditions are perfect for developing the meaning and ugliest biting bugs you can find. The heat itself is another issue that lasts more or less all year long. If you can wear shorts on Christmas morning, you are probably in the South! There are also the hurricanes which hit us every year, which are like a series of world-ending storms you just hope to survive. For all of these reasons, and a whole lot more, I own a geothermal heat pump. One time a hurricane knocked out the power for this whole neighborhood for an entire week, and with temps in the upper 90s I don’t know I would have survived without air conditioning! But because I had this geothermal heat pump, I was the only house for a mile in every direction that still had full power. The neighbors would come over to charge their phones or electronic devices, and why not let them? The geothermal heat pump generates a limitless amount of energy, the only limitation is the size of our house. We could have had 20 people hanging out in the AC at any given time, but my place just isn’t big enough for that. After that incident, I never again complained about how much money the geothermal heat pump had cost to install, because it had paid for itself ten times over that week alone!

air vent

Supplying the HVAC contractors

Technology makes the world a much smaller place.

It’s easy to be connected no matter where you are, which is something that has made my life a lot better. When I was coming up in this business, I needed to be centrally located. I had to be physically close to the business itself, because almost everything was hands-on. Now virtually every aspect of the business can be managed remotely, and with modern day wifi capabilities and private server farms, I can live way out in the country and still effectively run my HVAC business in the city. To be clear, I am not the type of business that sends HVAC techs out to people’s houses for repair calls. I don’t do repairs or service of any kind, in fact I only work with the HVAC contractors themselves. Where do you think these companies get their furnaces, air conditioners, and other equipment, anyway, you think they go to Walmart? Nope, they have to call a specialist HVAC manufacturer like me, who runs a couple of different factories and warehouses where this equipment is made and stored. So more or less I am a high end salesman, only I deal directly with HVAC businesses to provide equipment for them to resell. The truth of the matter is that I really don’t know the first thing about HVAC equipment, my speciality is just in business, and making money. When my air conditioner at home breaks down, I have to call a repair tech just like anyone else, the only difference is that they are selling what I make!

hvac zone control

The HVAC is important, but not for AC

The “v” in HVAC stands for ventilation, and the even exchange of air and it’s flow through the space is very important.

I ran into a huge problem recently, thanks to this record-breaking heat wave. If you don’t live around here it may be different, but we are getting the hottest temps and highest humidity that has ever been recorded. I knew it was going to be a hot summer, and I thought it might even help my cannabis crops, but this is too much. I had to transplant all my crops into the old barn in the back of the property. This was a huge deal, because they still needed sun and water but now they were under a roof which meant I needed power and an HVAC system. Some of you probably see those four letters and assume I am talking only about air conditioning, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Pot plants don’t need A/C at all, but they do need the right amount of moisture ,and proper ventilation. The “v” in HVAC stands for ventilation, and the even exchange of air and it’s flow through the space is very important. Plants are not meant to grow inside, in the shadow, away from nature, so the HVAC setup needs to replicate what they would get outdoors. I wish there were some AC involved, because this is hot, sweaty work, but it’s not about my comfort it’s about proper regulation of the plants. It has to be inside, because I have some degree of climate control and this summer, it is simply too hot outside for the plants to grow properly. My utility bills are going to be through the roof!
heating tune up

An HVAC ride along for a student

It is easy to sit back and criticize the school system, but it takes a lot more effort and compassion to try and make things better.

This is an issue we have been discussing at our local small business owner’s group meetings.

There are about twenty of us currently, small business owners of all kinds, and we wanted to think of a way to help the local youth in a way the school system wasn’t. Working with the school board, we set up a “ride-along” program, so students could spend a day or two riding, for example, with an HVAC contractor, or sit with an auto mechanic. For me this is very important because I don’t know where I would be without my HVAC job. I never excelled in school, but when I started working with the air conditioning contractor, I finally felt like I had a direction. I was still learning, but it was in a hands-on way, one that had a paycheck attached to it, and I found myself loving the HVAC business. If I can show some of these kids that they don’t have to be the smartest kids in school to make a good living doing HVAC work or any other trade. Another thing I want to impress upon these kids is the freedom you have when you get your HVAC certification. If I wanted to pack up and move to a new city tomorrow, I could find a new HVAC job the day I arrived. I hope the program works, and we can show these kids some options for their futures!

Find a local HVAC supplier

I’m jealous of that geothermal heat pump

It’s hurricane season again, and if you don’t know what that means consider yourself lucky.

For a few months out of the year, the atmospheric and nautical conditions are perfect for tropical storms to build into hurricanes.

In this part of the country, hurricane season is serious business, and we all have to keep supplies on hand in case the worst happens. A killer hurricane can wipe out entire power grids, level one neighborhood and flood the next one, so you have to take all precautions. Most people I know have a generator of some kind, but my neighbor actually took it up a level and got a geothermal heat pump. A generator runs on gas, or maybe solar power if you have a fancy model, but a geothermal heat pump mines the boundless energy of the planet itself to power your home. In other words, you literally never have to worry about a power outage again, because a geothermal heat pump has a limitless supply of energy. You pull it from the ground, store it, and then use it to power your water heater, your electrical grid, your HVAC system, and anything else you want! Most geothermal heat pumps are strong enough to power an entire compound, so keep that in mind if you ever start a cult! I’m kidding about the cult compound, but not about the geothermal heat pump, these things are amazing. I would love to get this kind of geothermal heat pump myself, but right now I can’t because they are just too darned expensive.

 

 

hvac service plan

Adjusting my HVAC system for the plants

To do that inside I need to run my HVAC system a lot more than usual, and I also need to set up a couple of extra humidifiers

This summer may be the end of my pot growing adventure, or it may kill my main power grid. I have decided to just let it play out and see what happens. I am in a very vulnerable position now, you see, with a huge order paid in advance for the stuff I am currently growing. This wouldn’t have been a problem ordinarily, but this summer heat is setting new records, and I had to get my plants out of the sun. I had a barn to use, but growing pot plants inside is a whole other level of difficulty. The essence of amazing weed is climate control, which is actually quite ironic since it is called “weed” because it can grow anywhere. This is true, what we called “ditch weed” can sprout up anywhere, but if you want good weed, that tastes good and knocks your socks off, you need climate control and nutrients for your crops. When the crops were outside I had a makeshift sun-covering set up, regulate the temperature, direct sunlight, and amount of moisture they received. To do that inside I need to run my HVAC system a lot more than usual, and I also need to set up a couple of extra humidifiers. My HVAC system is set up to provide the kind of ambient dampness the cannabis plants will need to flourish. With all the sun lamps to provide the UV rays and heating, my central AC runs in the other rooms to keep me cool, and the humidifiers are chugging along 24 hours a day.

furnace/heater tune-up

Learning the HVAC trade gave me a future

I was very surprised when my old high school principal called me up.

  • It had been twenty years, and he was still in the same job.

The last time I saw him was at the school office where I picked up my diploma — I wasn’t allowed to walk for graduation due to fighting at school. So the fact that he called me and asked to come speak to some of the at-risk students was a big shock. He told me that I could show the kids that even if they didn’t like school, they could make themselves into something, like I did with my HVAC company. I knew that I could never make it through college, but my uncle had persuaded me to try out the HVAC training courses they offered at the city college. He also hooked me up with a full time job at his small HVAC company, so I could get hands-on experience while I went to school. I always hated school, but the HVAC classes were a lot better than high school, because I understood the point of it. Memorizing historical dates and the names of state capitals was hard for me because it was pointless, but HVAC repair has an end goal… one with dollar signs attached to it! That is what I can impart to these kids, if not HVAC training then learn some other kind of trade. If you can make it through high school, then it gets easier because with a trade like HVAc you are literally learning how to make money.
furnace/heater service