Month: September 2018

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The chart above is taken from a Carrier heat pump and it lists some common accessories.

I have heard this common pressure switch (last on the list) called a low-pressure switch (because it opens on fall in pressure ) and a high-pressure switch (because it’s in the liquid line) but RARELY do I hear it called it’s true name.

Loss of charge switch

In a heat pump system the operational suction pressure can vary greatly from the suction you will run on a hot day in cool mode to the suction you will run on a cold winter day in heat mode. This makes a traditional low pressure switch a challenge.

The loss of charge switch performs much the same role as the low pressure switch but since it is in the liquid line in cool mode (before the metering device and after the condenser) and in the expansion line in heat mode (after the metering device and before the outdoor coil) it will not be as prone to fluctuations and will only keep the system off in cases of very low charge or “loss of charge”in cool mode.

In heat mode, it will also open during a loss of charge but also if there is a line drier or heat mode metering device restriction.

All in all, it’s pretty easy to understand, so long as you know it’s true identity and purpose.

— Bryan


A 40 VA transformer is rated for 40 VA or Volt-Amps on the secondary.

For a typical 24 volt secondary this is simply using watts law to calculate amperage.

40 ÷ 24 = 1.666666 ∞ (round up to 1.67 already)

So you cannot place more than 1.67 amps of constant load on the transformer without overloading it.

Many accessories use 24 volt power, such as zoning systems, UV lights, alarms etc…


This common UV light uses 0.65 amps, if you connected to the existing transformer that would leave only 1.01 amps for the system controls.

It is generally a safer bet to either add in an additional accessories transformer or upsize the existing transformer to 60 or 75 VA.

When adding an additional transformer make sure it either has an internal fuse, or add a fuse inline to protect the transformer and connected devices.

— Bryan

It was an awkward conversation, bringing a technician nearly twice my age into my office for a talk. “I’m good at fixing units, I’m not some fancy talking sales tech” the technician half mumbled as I sat looking at him. “The customer complained that you made them feel uncomfortable, you were unfriendly and you tracked dirt in the house” I responded.

“I did NOT track dirt, I wiped my feet REALLY good” he replied, all the while knowing my policy on wearing shoe covers.

It didn’t work out, it almost never does when a tech takes on the mindset that their ONLY job is fixing broken stuff.

Maintaining happy customers has many parts and only one of those parts is fixing broken stuff even if it is the most important part, in my opinion. Some people call these “soft skills” or an article like this “customer service training”, I just call it common sense, see if you agree.

Here are some essential steps in keeping residential HVAC customers happy.

Keep Their Home Clean and Damage Free

This means remove shoes or wear shoe covers every time you walk inside. I much prefer shoe covers because it allows you to demonstrate care for their home without walking around it in nasty old socks.

Use drop cloths whenever working inside the home on closet equipment or when doing any cutting or cleaning inside. You will need to replace drop cloths with some regularity to keep them looking decent.

Whenever brazing indoors make sure to use metal shielding or a fire resistant drop cloth to keep from damaging floors and surfaces. In general leave your workspaces cleaner then when you started even if it requires using a shop vac, a broom or a rag.

Make the Equipment Look Better

Making things look better starts with obvious things like

  • Doing a good condenser coil cleaning
  • Cleaning the leaves out of the condenser bottom
  • Cleaning off the return air grille
  • Cleaning The drain pan and line really well
  • Cleaning debris out of the return box
  • Wiping down the outside of the equipment
  • Neatening up wires
  • Replacing damaged line insulation
  • Removing and cleaning the blower wheel

Some of these things you may charge for, some of them you may do as part of a maintenance or service call but either way when you do them well the customer feels good about what you did because it’s something they can see and understand.

Act Like You Are Having a Good Day

When a tech shows up with a sour look on their face and starts complaining about the dispatcher or their boss or the other company or that OTHER customer… it rarely ends well. Customers may even smile and nod or even commiserate, they do this not because they like it but because they are afraid they will be the next victim of the negativity.

If you want customers to be happy then you need to be happy and set a rule to NEVER complain about anything with a customer.

Watch Out for Pets 

Never open gates or doors without asking first and if the customer has a pet ask if they are prone to bolt for the door so you can make sure not to let it get out. People take their pets very seriously, so treat them like precious occupants of the home.

Look like a Pro

You don’t need to have a perfect white shirt or gelled hair, you do need to look the part of an HVAC expert so that when the customer sees you they will feel confident in your ability. This means coming to the door with your “go-kit” of tools in hand, reasonably well kept and a look that says you are ready to take their problem seriously and take care of it. Honestly, clear eyes, a smile and brisk walk say more about a person than whether they have a beard, a few tattoos and an untucked shirt in my opinion.

Listen and Reiterate

I see many tech “project” themselves from the start of the call until the end. You are the expert in the customer’s eyes so it’s good to be confident but that rarely means you need to talk a lot. A good tech will ask the customer thoughtful questions about their system, what they may have noticed, their comfort etc…

When a customer mentions the same thing a few times then you can reiterate it, “So comfort in your office seems to be an area of concern, I’m going to take some extra measurements and look at your ducts to see if we can improve that”.

You don’t need to PUSH or be dishonest to sell or to have customers see you as an expert. You mostly need to listen.

Fix the ENTIRE System 

Don’t find one issue and stop. Check the entire system and note anything that could improve the longevity and efficiency of the equipment or the comfort of the home. Nothing makes for angry customers like callbacks, so do everything you can to fix it ALL the first time and do it the right way.

NOTE: This should not be used as an excuse to be a parts changer, if you tell a customer to replace a part without being confident the part is failed including how and why you aren’t an honest tech and you are bad for our trade.

Have a Closing Conversation 

At the end of every call before you walk away have a final conversation you have with the customer that is natural to you. Something like “at Kalos we really want to improve on every call, is there anything we could have done from the start to the finish of this service that we could have done better?”

The goal of this final conversation is to get feedback from the customer and allow them the space to consider if they really are satisfied or not. If they are then saying it will help cement it in their minds if they aren’t then you will want to know that before you leave.

If you practice these things, communicate clearly and treat people with respect I can bet you have really happy customers.

  • Care for their home
  • Clean stuff
  • Listen
  • Fix Everything they want fixed right the first time

Easy..

— Bryan

Yes… I’m walking a fine line with that title or even writing about labor day or workers movements at all. So let’s take a step back and strip away the politics and the economic theory and talk about this from a human standpoint.

Peter McGuire was born in New York in the 1850’s to a poor family and grew up doing odd jobs to make ends meet. By the age of 21, Peter was a political activist and agitator, looking to improve working conditions and benefits and increase labor organization and political influence in the workplace.

Peter was a Socialist in a time when being a socialist wasn’t seen as a negative thing like it is today (at least by many). In the late 1800’s the push was for better working conditions, paid time off and the 8-hour workday. It was the 1800’s equivalent to the $15.00/hr minimum wage that is often discussed today, it seemed like heresy to some and a utopia to others, but in the mind of Peter and many like him, it was the ticket to a better life for many stuck in poverty.

In the Spring of 1882, a young Peter made the suggestion for a holiday and street parade that celebrated workers and helped bring attention to the Labor movement that was growing in America.

By 1894 Labor day was an official holiday in the US and was celebrated widely around as an homage to the labor movement and better working conditions, wages and benefits for workers.

Fast-forward to today 

Much has changed since 1882 and much has stayed the same. Just like in that time large corporations and banks hold a lot of power and influence over the economy and political system, A few industries have a lot of impact on our everyday lives such as pharmaceuticals, oil and manufacturing.

On the other hand, we do have greater access to information and abuses are easier to make public than before. There is greater awareness of the rights of women, minorities and the disabled in the workplace.

We are more aware of other and possibly better opportunities within our trades and jobs or even in switching careers.

Technology and outsourcing has changed the labor landscape in a positive way for some and to the detriment of others.

No matter what your politics are or how you feel about Peter, Labor day or the state of the American worker I think we can all agree on this

PEOPLE MATTER 

I definitely lean to the right politically but I can still appreciate the work done by people like Peter to put the focus on the worker and the importance of good working conditions and pay for American worker (and all workers for that matter). Some would call this a basic human right, I would turn it around and call it a hallmark of a healthy society and something that is always worth working towards.

In a strong and free society, we all work hard looking to carve out the best lives for our families. We stand up for the weak and disadvantaged. We support and choose to work good businesses that pay well and provide great opportunities thrive while the ones that don’t. We don’t think that simply “showing up” is what matters but we understand that it’s what we produce that makes us valuable.

When we do these things we build a better country and world and I’m thankful today that I know so many of you that live this way day in and day out.

Happy Labor Day!

— Bryan

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