A good HVAC technician must have the hands-on skills of a mechanic, electrician, pipefitter, welder, plumber, fabricator, duct mechanic, insulator, rigger, analyst, electronics technician, chemist, computer programmer, computer technician, millwright, and machinist.
I usually try to keep things positive and lighthearted on my channel, but I guess this week I was feeling feisty.
There are several reasons why you’ll never be a good technician, but there are many of you great technicians out there that know even more reasons why technicians never fully make it. Let me know in the comments below what some of the other reasons are. And feel free to trash talk me back if I’m wrong on any of these!
- NATE has nothing to do with continual training:
In my opinion, NATE certification is just a money grab. But, if you won’t continuously train yourself and try to learn more, you’ll never be a good HVAC technician.
- Inviting Personality:
If you can’t hold your head up high and flash a little smile here and there. If people are afraid to talk to you or feel like something’s wrong with you while you’re making the repair or installing a system, you’ll never be looked at as a well-rounded technician.
- You won’t read the instructions:
Someone who installs a system or replaces a control board without reading the instructions, creating a call-back for something they could have easily prevented, will never be considered a great technician. RTFM. Read The F&cking Manual isn’t just a newly created text term. It’s something they assumed you would do on your own before coming to them for answers.
- You leave your work area dirty after you leave:
If you can’t wipe down your work area or pick up the little plastic pieces you stripped off the wiring, or wipe off the service valve area after the refrigerant has sprayed out a little, you’ll never be a good HVAC technician. If you can’t wipe down the attic access after coming down the ladder or have the common sense to put some white caulking around a return grille, that be a little gappy; you’re just another technician.
If you can’t get to work on time, you’ll never be fully respected by your peers. Anyone who says they’ll do something but flakes out on it all time will never become a good HVAC technician.
- Can’t read a blueprint:
It’s something listed on most descriptions for an HVAC applicant, but so many people have never learned how to read and understand blueprints. Blueprints will never replace seeing something in plain view, but you’ll never be a great technician if you can’t read blueprints.
- Some technical aspects:
If you can’t (or won’t) set the blower speed on a furnace or air handler based on the chart in the manual, you’ll never be a good HVAC technician.
If you can’t (or you refuse to) check gas pressures on a furnace after an install or replacing a gas valve, you’ll never be a good HVAC technician.
- Can’t run a duct properly:
If you can’t run a duct and pull it tight in a straight line with long smooth bends, or your ductwork sags, you never be a good install tech.
HVAC techs who blow through calls to get to the end of their day quicker or make more commissions lack the patience they need to step back after a repair and look at what they’ve done. It’s like those cars who weave in and out of traffic to get their off-ramp 15 seconds faster—all the while putting others in the back of their mind because they need to be somewhere else.
- You borrow tools all the time:
If you’re a new technician in the field, you should be buying at least one new tool for your arsenal every paycheck. It doesn’t even have to be new tools. E-bay and flea markets are great places to pick up new tools for yourself. On the other hand, if you’ve been a tech for a while and keep borrowing this or that tool from your partners on the job, you probably aren’t looked at as a good HVAC technician.
If you were raised to freely deceive people based on your needs. If you don’t care about lying to people so that you can pad your wallet, you might replace a lot of parts or sell a lot more systems. But you’ll never be a good tech in my eyes.
- You won’t embrace change:
Some people don’t like new technology, or they’re afraid of screwing up trying to repair new technology. So, they avoid it. If you don’t understand or just won’t embrace the fact that technology is going to get more technical every few years exponentially, you may be a good technician now, but you’ll eventually be replaced by someone who does is ready to dive right in.
- You jump to conclusions:
Some technicians can’t focus on the sequence of operation for the system. So, they just repair what usually needs to be fixed on the unit. A good technician can evaluate the system based on what’s supposed to happen, repair it, and make sure the system runs right after it’s going again.
- You talk too much:
People who talk too much are annoying. It’s not good to be the person always running their mouth on the job, talking about how good it was at the last place they worked at, or bragging about this and that. Even those who always have to one-up another person’s story so they will look cooler will never get the respect of a good HVAC technician. If an employer is trying to show you how they want something done, take a little advice. Zip it and listen before opening your mouth. Learning a little social grace will go a long way towards being well-liked and considered a good technician.
- You don’t talk enough:
There’s a fine line to walk when it comes to communicating. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you never ask questions or don’t respond to people who talk to you, you’re not talking enough. In my opinion, text messaging is so easy. If someone texts you a question or some information regarding work. Responding with an “OK” or “No problem” will go a long way. But if you don’t talk enough, you’ll never be a good technician.
- You’re a parts changer:
This goes hand in hand with other items on this list, but parts changers are not good technicians. Knowing the sequence of operations and how the system is supposed to work is key to becoming a technician who can identify and repair the problem in as few visits as possible. Every technician has identified the wrong repair needed at one time or another. Everyone makes mistakes. But consistently just throwing parts at a system and hoping it’ll work is not the sign of a good HVAC technician.
- You don’t have a sense of alignment or appearance:
Can you look at a line and tell if it’s straight? Can you look at a box and tell if it’s parallel with a wall. Can you use a level? How about this – can you tell if a job looks “clean” rather than something that’s just thrown in? Little things like applying primer neatly and facing PVC piping away from the lettering. These things will set a good tech apart from a bad one. If you can’t grasp the concept of uniformity and common-sense installation practices like making your lines flow straight and your conduit flow smoothly, you’ll never be a good HVAC technician.
- You write like a 5-year-old, and you don’t know how to spell:
If you can’t write your service notes on an invoice neatly or write up an estimate for your customer in legible print, it’s going to be hard to take you seriously. If you won’t proofread your typed-up invoices or estimates, it’s going to look bad. People are going to think you’re a sloppy tech.
- You don’t like being told how to do something somebody else’s way:
You can’t come into a new workplace and expect to be able to do things the way you’ve always done it. If you wanted that, you should have stayed at your old job. That’s why companies like to hire brand new technicians sometimes, because they come in with an open mind, ready to learn. Those who don’t like to be told what to do will never be viewed as a good HVAC tech.
- Your service van looks dirty:
Some might say a sparkling clean van, inside and out, probably isn’t used enough. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a van that is consistently thrashed inside and filthy on the outside indicates a sloppy technician who doesn’t care about his work. There’s always a middle ground for everything, though. HVAC techs work hard. Installers work even harder! But if you can’t take the time out of your day to keep your van looking decent, you’ll never be looked at as a competent HVAC technician.