How Much Money Do HVAC Workers Make an Hour? (2022 Update)

How Much Money Do HVAC Workers Make Per Hour
How Much Money Do HVAC Workers Make Per Hour

The HVAC industry is one of those jobs where going to college isn’t required. You can make a huge impact on people’s lives RIGHT NOW. When people don’t have heating, cooling, or refrigeration, you fix it. You see the results right now, you feel good, and you move on about your day. How much money do HVAC workers make to do that? We’ll talk about it in this video.

Hourly Rates for HVAC Technicians

HVAC techs make good money. You’re not likely to start out at minimum wage, but it’s possible.

Knowing this, you can expect the average salary for an HVAC to be from $20.00/hr (about $40,000/yr) to $50.00/hr (about $90,000/yr). The average technician makes $25.00/hr.

  • Alaska has the highest average pay rate at about $40.00/hr. Alabama has the lowest right now, with an average salary of $19.00/hr.
  • California has the most HVAC jobs available, paying over $50,000 a year. Alaska has the lowest percentage of HVAC jobs offering more than $50,000 a year.
  • Connecticut, Maryland, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, Florida, Alaska, and New York all have at least one city where the average technician makes $40.00 to $50.00/hr.

Types of Jobs Within the HVAC Industry

In the HVAC industry, most people think about positions like installers, repair techs, and preventive maintenance techs. And those positions can be held in the residential field (homes), commercial (stores, offices), industrial (hospitals, high rise buildings), and refrigeration (grocery store frozen and fresh food items).

Each one of those types is going to make different money. Residential techs typically earn a little less than commercial and refrigeration techs, which usually make slightly less than industrial techs. You’ll also find that many commercial, refrigeration, and industrial jobs are typically associated with union jobs.

There are more than technician jobs in HVAC too. We need warehouse workers, truck drivers, front desk workers, administrative assistants and dispatchers, “Title 24 HERS” raters, “Home Performance” salespeople, HVAC equipment salespeople, sheet metal fabricators, pipefitters, department managers, territory managers, equipment manufacturers, parts manufacturers, air conditioning engineers, and system engineers.

So there are several jobs available within the HVAC industry. You find a lot of people who finish up their time in the field switching over to some of these less intense, physically demanding positions. Even HVAC business owners who retire from running their company will seek those jobs as a nice supplemental income to their retirement or just stay in the field and have something to do!

I hope this helps with the HVAC salary question.

The Unrivaled Power of YouTube

Power of YouTube

I remember the first video I ever made for my YouTube channel. It was a complete disaster. The audio was terrible, the video was a grainy desktop computer camera, and I had only the slightest bit of knowledge of what I was doing. But I posted it anyway, and to my surprise, a few people actually watched it! Encouraged by this, I kept making videos and got a little better with each one. I learned how to use editing software to improve the quality of my videos, and I became more comfortable in front of the camera. As my skills improved, so did my popularity; today, my channel has thousands of subscribers and I have learned the power of YouTube.

With the Power of YouTube, I have:

  • Tapped into the billions of people watching monthly.
  • Gotten found on Google more organically.
  • Created content that will never disappear from the internet.
  • Earned trust from people without having gone into their homes yet.
  • BONUS: Make monthly pocket change from Google.

I can honestly say that making these videos has been the single most cost-effective thing I have done for our marketing and branding presence. Not only are a ton of people in our immediate service area watching and learning from our videos, but they are also learning who we are and our business ethics. We have developed a lot of trust from people all over the country too. Ask my admin team, and they’ll tell you the funniest part of their day is when people call from the other side of the country, and even Canada, asking if we service their area. People are watching overseas too. It’s amazing. Just 6 to 8 hours per video has made us an industry name. In my service area, I have optimized them to stand out when people search for what may seem like mundane things like, Why is my air conditioner so loud?” I am also creating a buzz amongst technicians in my area looking for a better workplace. I can stand at the food truck at Home Depot in the mornings, and a tech will come up to me and express how much our videos have helped him in the field. That’s powerful!

I have found that the more transparent we are while making my videos, the better response we get from them. Showing someone how to replace a compressor isn’t going to lose you business. It is actually going to demonstrate your expertise and what is involved in the process. I remember one comment from that compressor video: “Nope! When I saw the torches come out, I knew I was in over my head.”

I just continued making a video once a week or two and uploaded them to the second most popular search in the world, YouTube. I have oodles of topics to talk about. Every little facet of the HVAC world, from how a pressure switch works to starting a business from the ground up, may seem trivial to you, but to others trying to learn something, it isn’t.

Early adopters of content creation on the niche of HVAC were “grayfurnaceman,” “Dr. Zarklov,” “Zack Psioda,” “Lex Vance,” and “NorCal Refrigeration & H.V.A.C..” These guys were simply sticking a camera in front of their faces and chatting about what they were doing that day. Guys would hit the record button and say, “Hey guys, how are you doing? Today I wanted to bring you along as I troubleshoot a gas furnace.” And then, they would take their camera along, sit it down, and point it at the furnace with them in front of it. Now, these types of videos are still being produced by HVAC business owners and service techs all over the country.

What started out as a few guys putzing around making videos showcasing their personal lives and the life of an HVAC technician out in the field ended up being thousands upon thousands of views a month. Content creation is about repetition. Even if one video flops and you realize no one cares about that topic, you keep pressing on. More videos mean more views. I found myself making a video about something I thought was vague, The Facts About Condensate Drain Lines.” Three years later, that video has over 72 thousand views! Are they all from my service area? Not likely. In fact, I can see from my YouTube analytics that not only people from Sacramento have watched it, but Houston, Los Angeles, Dallas, Melbourne, Australia, and Long Beach are the most popular cities the video has been watched in.

I had one lady from Phoenix, Arizona, call us in Sacramento and ask if she could fly me down there and put me in a hotel for the night, would I fix her system? In her search for a good company, she only trusted Fox Family from watching our videos. That was surprising, but I knew a company in her area and referred her to them. The problem got fixed, and at the same time, I bolstered my HVAC network by referring that company, which I know now, will refer me likewise.

HVAC is a niche that we are already passionate about. Why not demonstrate that passion and start building trust and familiarity for your company too? YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, and it is easy to see why. YouTube’s search algorithm is very effective, allowing users to find the exact content they are looking for. It’s also a great platform for businesses and creators. By uploading engaging content, businesses can reach a large audience of potential customers. There is no doubt that the unrivaled power of YouTube has helped grow my business.

PSC Motor vs Constant Torque Motor vs Variable Speed Motor – What’s the Difference Between?

PSC Motor vs Constant Torque Motor vs Variable Speed Motor – What’s the Difference Between?

The HVAC industry has come a long way since its first system was put out on the market.  A big part of that evolution has been the technology used to push the air into our homes.  Today we’re talking about three types of motors: PSC Motor vs Constant Torque Motor vs Variable Speed Motor. We’re going to talk about their operation and their uses in today’s residential HVAC systems.

INTRO – PSC Motor vs Constant Torque Motor vs Variable Speed Motor

We have standard PSC motors that are found in the majority of homes today. I’d say 80 percent of the systems we work on today have PSC motors. They’re the ones that have capacitors strapped to them to help start the motor and help it run efficiently. I’ll explain more about them down below.

Next is the constant torque motor.  One we use often is the Genteq X13 motor.  That motor is a high-efficiency motor that helped manufacturers meet the 13 SEER mandate implemented by the federal government in 2006, which is where the name X13 came from.

Manufacturers of these motors usually refer to them as a standard ECM motor or a constant torque motor.  To be clear, X13 is the Genteq brand name.  Other brands offer similar motors.  However, for the purpose of this video, the term constant torque motor will be used to describe all such motors.

A constant torque motor is not a variable speed motor. But both of them are ECM or electronically commutated motors.

Variable speed motors in HVAC systems are the premium option in today’s systems.  They allow systems to run from a very low speed up to 100% of their capacity.  Being able to dial in the desired speed precisely makes these motors the best choice for all types of advanced systems.

And just as a side note for folks in Sacramento County who might be looking for rebates available through our local utility company; SMUD has verbiage in their new rebate structure (and this is in 2021, so double check these rebates) that the new rebates revolve around furnaces and air handlers that have a variable speed motor.  In this case, ECM variable and ECM constant torque motors are the same to SMUD.  But in the real world, when we are talking to each other about these two different motors, it’s constant torque and variable speed motors.

So let’s expand a little now on the differences between the three motors: PSC Motor vs Constant Torque Motor vs Variable Speed Motor.

PSC Motors –

Ever heard of Nikola Tesla? I’m sure you have. He’s the inventor of the first practical design of these split-phase induction motors. He made them easy to use, low-cost, and compact in design, so well the industrial market started using them more and more. They got to be so useful, home appliances started using them in a variety of ways – like heating and cooling.

While simple to build and low in cost, they are being drowned out by today’s modern, higher-efficiency motors.

Three or four wires high voltage wires start and control the speed of the motor. They’re pretty simple to switch out. There’s usually a HIGH, MED-HIGH, MED-LOW, and LOW tap attached to these blower motors. When that winding receives 120 volts from the furnace’s control board, it starts up at that speed. But 120 volts isn’t the only thing that is needed to start that PSC motor. It needs a capacitor to provide the energy to get the motor up and running.

The capacitor winding stays in the circuit the entire time the motor runs, which is where we get the P in PSC for “permanent.”

The S in PSC stands for “split” because it’s a motor that uses single-phase AC which has been “split” by the utility into two equal proportions, just in opposite polarities.

And then C is for “capacitor,” which, as we already know, is the storage bucket of energy the motor consumes to start and run efficiently.

PSC motors are getting phased out because they build up heat, which decreases the motor’s efficiency. This earned them a rating of 60% efficiency.  But hey, that’s been the standard in residential heating and cooling for a long time

If there are restrictions in the airflow, like undersized ductwork, dirty filters, or dirty evaporator coils, PSC motors start to lose performance. They deliver less air because they tend to bog down, drawing higher amps. The system’s static pressure (or blood pressure) builds up and fights back against the PSC motor wearing it and the capacitor down through overheating.

PSC motors aren’t the quietest motors either. In fact, between the three motors we’re discussing today, the PSC motor is the noisiest. Having said that, PSC motors are the least expensive to buy and repair. The next two types of motors are much pricier to repair or replace.

ECM Constant Torque Motors (X-13 Motors)

Probably the most familiar name in ECM constant torque motors is the X-13 motor by Genteq. Genteq acquired General Electric’s motors and capacitors division in 2004, and in 2009 renamed themselves Genteq. I bring this up because the first high-efficiency residential HVAC ECM motors were made by GE back in the 1980s.

Even though they’re like upgraded PSC motors, they are a little more complicated in design because they use an integrated control board to send the signal for operation and at what speed (or torque setting) to run at. Because of this, they’re more expensive. Not quite as expensive as variable-speed motors, but significantly higher than PSC motors.

X-13 ECM or constant torque motors were designed in 2006 to achieve higher SEER ratings for the air conditioners being put into homes. The government sets the standard, so the industry has to keep up.  The SEER rating they were trying to achieve at that time was 13, thus the X-13 motor.

So, what does “constant torque motor” mean?

As a system gets dirty or ductwork is too small, maybe the filter hasn’t been changed in a year, the system’s static pressure (or blood pressure) will increase because it’s becoming restricted. So just like the PSC motor, it will start to decrease the amount of air it can push out, but not as drastic as a PSC motor. As much as 20% less impact on a semi-restricted system.

When the airflow decreases on an air conditioning mode, the system can freeze up with ice and completely restrict airflow. While in heating mode, low airflow means the system can overheat and shut down, wait for itself to cool off, start back up, overheat, shut back down, and over and over until it completely locks itself out. So, with a constant torque motor, the chance of the system shutting down because of airflow restriction is less because the drop in airflow produced isn’t as drastic as a PSC motor.

If you decrease the amount of air that a PSC motor moves because of ductwork, a dirty system, or a dirty filter, it will use less power and not deliver the same amount of air as if it were clean. It’s not a “smart” motor.

In the same situation, a constant torque motor will increase its power output to the shaft, which spins the wheel harder, to try and maintain more airflow through the duct system, preventing those issues we just discussed. And, there are safeties programmed into the motor to prevent it from destroying itself if airflow gets really bad.

The power block to the constant torque motor receives a high voltage and a low voltage signal. The upper portion of the block has connections for the high, and the lower terminals are for the low voltage taps. So instead of having high voltage determine the speed like the PSC motor, low voltage taps are plugged into either the 1,2,3,4, or 5 terminals which have been pre-programmed to a specific torque setting by the manufacturer.

And only some of those taps may have been pre-programmed. So maybe only the 1,2, and 3 terminals work on the low voltage side. The maker of the air handler decides it.

A constant torque motor is a brushless motor, which reduces heat within the rotor and stator area. They’re 80% efficient compared to PSC motors which are rated at 60% efficient. They also don’t need a capacitor to start and run.

They have integrated electronics built into the motor, which means if either the motor windings or the circuitry goes bad, the whole motor has to be replaced.  When I talk about variable speed motors, I’ll explain why I mentioned that.

Variable Speed Motors –

GE, which I said before was acquired by Genteq (on the motors side), introduced the first variable-speed motors for use in HVAC systems in 1987. So, it’s not a new technology.

So, you know how when you get in your car on a 100-degree day and set the AC with that AUTO button to reach 70 degrees? When the car first starts, the AC fan turns on about as high as it can to match the cooling effect the system is trying to produce. Then, as the system starts reaching that 70-degree set point, you may notice the fan actually starts to ramp down little by little because the demand isn’t as high.  Once you reach 70 degrees in the car, the airflow doesn’t really stop, does it?  No. The air stays on lightly while keeping you at 70 degrees.

Do you notice how that motor ramps up and down instead of the constant torque and PSC motors that have set speeds for specific demands from the thermostat? Variable speed motors can fluctuate between very low speeds and high speeds with their brushless design, which helps maintain an impressive 80% to 90% efficiency rating.

When airflow in variable speed systems becomes restricted, airflow volume stays the same (constant airflow) because they’ve been programmed to know exactly how much torque and airflow the system needs to function properly.

So, variable-speed motors are constant airflow motors. Constant torque motors can apply a little more power to the blower wheel in an attempt to maintain the airflow needed by the system.

The motor is made of two pieces – the mechanical part (the motor) and the control module. The control module has microprocessors and electronic controls, which increase or decrease the speed of the motor. One part or the other can be replaced if needed, so you don’t always have to replace the entire motor and module together.

That saves quite a bit of money when it comes time for repair. But – remember that these need to be programmed by the manufacturer, so you can’t just buy one on e-bay and think it will work for your specific application. Variable-speed systems are not cheap to fix. So, it’s like, yes, they save money by being more efficient, but they cost an arm and a leg to repair, so who’s really coming out ahead?

If the shaft is stuck and won’t spin, or the windings are out of sort, you can just replace the mechanical portion of it. If the shaft spins freely and ohms out correctly, and the motor is getting the proper voltage and communication, then you could have a bad module. It’s kind of hard to troubleshoot a module without special tools that can give the proper signal to the motor, in which case, if it didn’t respond properly, you’d know the module was bad.

The variable-speed motor is powered by high voltage plugged into a power block, just like the ECM constant torque motor. It also receives another signal to the power block very similar to the constant torque motor. Instead of individual taps with 24 volts applied to speed terminals, variable speed motors have a multi-pin communication connector. Previous versions of variable speed motors have used AC signals, DC signals, and in today’s motors, serial communication – another reason why technicians need those special devices to troubleshoot them.

Conclusion –

PSC motors are simple, fairly inexpensive, moderately efficient motors with a reputation for being loud and not very dynamic. They also come hitched with the always unpredictable capacitor, which can go out due to overheating.

ECM constant torque and ECM variable-speed motors are pretty complex in design, high-efficiency motors, known for being much quieter on start-up and shutdown. Their ability to control airflow better than PSC motors makes them smart motors because they can ramp up power as needed (the variable speed more so than the constant torque motor.)  All of this comes with a higher price tag, though, when it comes to repairs.

The practical side of me asks, “So the ECM motors are more efficient, saving money on the operation (of a low amperage blower motor) by 20%. But when it comes to repairs, I’m going to pay thousands for a technician to install a new motor?”

And this is the world we live in.

Thanks for reading the blog this week, and we’ll see you on the next one!


12 Reasons Why Being A Certified HVAC Technician Is A Good Career Choice

Hi, I’m Greg Fox from Fox Family Heating and Air in Sacramento, CA.  If you’re out there trying to find a career that is rewarding, challenging and pays well, I think HVAC is the right field for that.  Today I’m going to give you 12 good reasons why being a certified HVAC technician is a good career choice.  And I even have a bonus reason after that.

1. You Don’t Need a College Degree to Get Started

As a high schooler, I could tell I wasn’t going to college.  Unless I got a scholarship, my family didn’t really have enough money to send me to college.  I joined the Air Force right out of high school and when my term ended, I headed out for civilian life.  HVAC was a career I found easy to get into.  I started at the bottom while at my first job, but I quickly worked my way up amongst my peers.

2. Good Wages

When I started, I never realized that I could make enough money to support my family.  I started out very low in pay, but I didn’t have any experience either!  Within one year I had doubled my pay because my supervisors saw how hard of a worker I was and that I was pretty good at it.  With an HVAC career,you’ll find you can make a damn good living at something you’re proud of doing.

3. Independence

One of the greatest aspects of being an HVAC technician is the independence you have during your workday.  Whether you are an installation tech, a service tech, or a sales technician you’ll find yourself not having to be around a crowd at work. You get to go about your day and do or say pretty much what you want, how you want.  Sure, you have calls or installs that you have to go to, but you won’t have any supervisors looking down on you all the time like with some jobs.

4. It’s a career that will always be in demand — growing at about 15% as the baby boomers start retiring

As you’ve probably heard already, HVAC is a career that is never going to go away.  Robots and AI are far from being able to walk into a home, business or grocery store, walk around, troubleshoot the problem, get the repair part, braze copper lines together, enlarge returns, cut in supplies, install an HVAC system, and the list goes on.  The fact is, it takes real people with real skills to do our job.  And the field is only going to grow for the next several years, meaning there will be more and more jobs available for you to acquire.

5. The Job Isn’t Very Repetitive

As an HVAC technician, your job isn’t very repetitive.  Sure, you’re out there repairing systems every day, or installing equipment regularly, but the application of where you’re doing it not only changes daily but from call to call.  You never know what you’re going to get into on the next call.  That’s too challenging for some people, and HVAC isn’t for everyone. But for some of us, we thrive on it.

6. Helping Others/Health/A Place to Serve

Nothing feels better than getting customers back up and running again.  Whether it’s at the end of the day on an install, or after a challenging service call.  Heck, you’ll probably feel like a genius when you find something as simple as a dirty filter that wasn’t allowing air through a system.  The best feeling we get as HVAC technicians is when we can get an older couple, a family with children, or someone with medical conditions that really need a comfortable home cooling again.  When a grocery store with a lot of food at risk of spoiling is saved by your expertise, you’re probably going to feel like Superman as you walk out the door with your tool bag and your head up high.

7. Mechanical Aspect

Our goal as HVAC technicians is to provide thermal comfort and good indoor air quality.  We work with thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer.  A lot of people find this industry confusing because air isn’t something we can see.  We can feel it!  But trying to explain what we just did to get someone’s system back up and running can be a challenge.  Installing, servicing and maintaining equipment engineered for this is what HVAC technicians all around the world love to do.  It’s one of those trades that not everyone can just pick up in a day or two.  This makes our jobs more secure than some other blue-collar trades.

8. Multi-Talented/Jack-of-All-Trades

You can really become a jack-of-all-trades in the HVAC field.  This is especially true if you go into the installation side of the field.  As installers, we must be able to read blueprints from an engineer. Not only are we setting equipment, but we’re also involved in plumbing gas lines and condensate drainage, working with high and low voltage, constructing new platforms, cutting in supply registers in rooms, enlarging returns and even cutting holes through rooftops to place new units.  After replacing some of those units on the roof, we sometimes will also need to patch up the area around the curb to get it looking good again.  

We’ve already discussed the other areas you’ll be good at with thermodynamics, balancing airflow, heat transfer, refrigerant flow and how to make the air quality better in a home.  This is probably my favorite reason I became an HVAC technician because it really makes you a jack-of-all-trades.

9. The Challenges/Troubleshooting

If you’re really up for a challenging career, you’ll find HVAC a great career.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to be good in this field.  But it does take a solid understanding of the fundamentals and a good deal of patience.  Just when you think you have the answer to a problem, something else comes up and then you must deal with that.  All the trades we just talked about — plumbing, electrical, carpentry, roofing, thermodynamics, and others — can all come into play when it comes to solving the myriad of troubleshooting issues we face in the HVAC field every day.

10. You Learn Sales

Some of us get the opportunity to sell to our customers.  We’ll pinpoint the problem and need to persuade the customer to spend money on the repair to get their system running again.  Other times the cost to get the system running again isn’t worth it to the owner, so you end up selling them a new system.  You also are out there trying to sell indoor air quality to homeowners so they can more fully enjoy their homes.  Many people don’t know the air in their homes is sometimes worse than the air outside. 

Selling can be a sensitive subject because some people think HVAC technicians and salespeople take selling a little too far.  Our industry has gotten a bad reputation compared to others because some companies only pay their technicians by how many parts they sell.  It’s a fine line because technicians can get greedy and not care about taking people’s money just to line their pockets, but at the same time, they do have to be able to put food on their tables and support themselves during the off-season.

11. Seasonal

Which brings me to my next reason HVAC is such a good job choice.  Most people don’t use their AC or heating all year.  This creates what we call shoulder seasons.  During these times, some companies don’t have any work for their techs.  Other companies have maintenance contracts that need to be fulfilled.  But, if you’re in the residential and commercial field, I’m sure you’ll feel the seasonal changes in your hours at work, which is why you’ll need to discipline yourself to save money when you’re busy during those slower times of the year.  The refrigeration side of the industry is usually a year-round job, but some people can’t stand some of the stuff you have to work on every day, like slimy bacteria, for example.

12. Take Home Van/ Save on Gas Money

Last but not least, some companies will let you take your work van home with you.  This saves a lot of time and money since you don’t have to drive to work to get your van, just to be at your first call which could turn out to be right by your house! Having your own van means being able to stock the truck your way, have certain tools and other knick-knacks set up just the way you like it.


I noticed in the first year of doing this trade I built quite a bit of muscle from all the carrying, lifting, squatting, crawling and other activity on the job.  It’s a physical line or work that can add some weight to your body, hopefully the right kind.  Some guys get bigger in the belly because they’re working harder and they go home and eat a lot more than they normally would.  I feel like my first year in install I added around 10 to 15 lbs. of muscle on my body which really filled out my shoulders, arms, chest, and legs nicely.


I hope this helps in your quest to find the right career for 2020!  HVAC is a field that isn’t going away.  People will always need to be comfortable in their homes and offices.  I have truly enjoyed my time as an HVAC technician.  Sure, I’ve found myself in some interesting positions I’d rather not be in at times.  But I think that happens with every job.  The pay is good, the job is interesting and different every day.  The challenges we face keep us at the top of our game.

Thanks so much for stopping by and we’ll see you on the next blog!

Don’t miss the video on this topic:

Starting My Own HVAC Business – Get Your Contractor’s License First

Doing Side Work Without a License

This series is set up to compliment my video series from 2016, “Starting My Own HVAC Company.”  I  thought I’d review some of the things I talked about before and give you my thoughts on them now that I’ve been doing it for a while.


When I was starting my HVAC business, I didn’t realize how much I would need to know.  I was just another technician who was tired of working for someone who didn’t have the same values and ideas I did.  Some people don’t think the journey should be too hard.  Get a truck, get your tools, get some customers, and go to work.

It was a liberating feeling for me, at first.  I quickly found out if I wanted to grow my business, I would have to learn more about the business side of HVAC.  I knew I was a good technician. But I started developing a great desire for more input, more knowledge of the business side.

Getting off the ground seems like the toughest part of the process, but I can honestly say now, that it’s not.

Reviewing the Series

This series is set up to compliment the 2016 video series, “Starting My Own HVAC Company.”  I  thought I’d review some of the things I talked about before and give you my thoughts on them now that I’ve been doing it for a while.  If you want to see that series before reading this post, you can find it here.

Get a Contractors License

The first thing we should talk about is, if you want to this right, you’re going to have to get your contractors license.

In California, if you want to do any HVAC, plumbing, electrical, handyman, and other types of work for someone and you plan on collecting more than $500, you need to get your contractors license first.  Why?  Let me give you a few reasons.

First, and most obvious, it’s the law, and you can get arrested and fined thousands of dollars for contracting without a license.  If you get caught contracting without a license, it’ll make it that much harder for you to go to the State and apply for one with that strike against you.

Lending Credibility

Second, having a license lends credibility to your name and builds trust.  When your future customers see you’re legitimate on the government website, it shows people you’ve gone through the process like everyone else, and you don’t cut corners. You can control your own business and its reputation when you’re doing things the right way.

Setting a Standard

Third, contracting legitimately keeps the quality of work you do at a certain standard.  For any work that alters the electrical, plumbing, gas lines, or structure of the building, a permit is needed.  To get that permit, a contractor’s license is needed.  And when you’re done with that work, a local city or county building inspector comes in and verifies your work to close out the permit.

You’ve heard me talk (and complain) about the system of inspectors and administrative personnel in the building departments.  Even though I feel the way I do about them, I realize the need for inspectors to confirm the work we’ve done.  It’s a system of checks and balances which provides a separate set of eyes to see the job we did and give the homeowner their seal of approval based on the local building codes.

Protecting Customers

Finally, being a part of a group of people in your field who has gone through the steps of becoming contractors creates a force that inhibits non-licensed people from scamming and taking advantage of homeowners and endangering their property with shoddy workmanship (which still happens anyway.)


I wanted to review these steps again, not to discourage anyone, but to enlighten those of you who are interested in starting up your own company.  Start by being legit.  I don’t condone the people out there doing side work while still working for someone else.  But that’s another topic.  If your state allows for high dollar HVAC work and there’s no insurance requirement or state bond obligation to protect the homeowner, should you burn their house down with sloppy, unvalidated workmanship, then more power to you.

Take the time to do it right from the start, no matter what state you’re in.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and we’ll see you on the next blog.

Don’t Miss our Video and the Series on This Topic:

  Starting My Own Business - Revisited 5 Years Later - Part 1: Contracting

HVAC Training: 5 Reasons Making Mistakes Creates Better HVAC Technicians

5 ways mistakes make you a better hvac tech

Making mistakes means better technicians

In an industry that that has a recruitment field that is slowly diminishing in size year by year, HVAC technicians entering the field need to know their hopes of being a good technician won’t be demolished if they make a mistake.  Making mistakes creates better technicians in one way or another.  Sometimes it removes them from the position of BEING a “technician” altogether.  One thing’s for sure, everything has a way of working itself out and no one is immune to that fact.


It’s funny. Today on social media, most people will only post their positive achievements.  God forbid should we post any of our mistakes in front of a world that will likely bash us with replies that drive the point home even further than the mistake itself.  Making mistakes is going to happen.  Generations before us in the HVAC industry as well as others have made many mistakes that got us to where we are now.  Best practices and technology have improved greatly since the first waves of this trial and error began.

In actuality, some people do post their mistakes on social media.  And bless those brave souls who do.  One electrician posted a picture of himself in the hospital wrapped in bandages head to toe after he received second and third-degree burns when he touched the wrong piece of metal inside an electrical panel.  A great learning experience for everyone.

Another posted a picture of himself in the hospital with a disgruntled, almost painfilled face after he touched the wrong part of an electrical component he’s worked on hundreds of times in the past.  This time, touching it in the wrong place, caused his heart to stop, his body to seize, and blackout until his partner on the job site literally had to kick him off the live part.

This leads me to my first reason why making mistakes creates better technicians in one way or another.

#1 – Mistakes help us slow down and pace ourselves as we get the job done.

Those of us who have done an HVAC maintenance on a furnace or air conditioner can probably go through the routine of it with our eyes closed after just one season of doing them.  Although most systems throughout the day are made by different manufacturers, they operate pretty much the same.

I remember a mistake I made on furnace tune-up in my first year on my own.  I was working on a rooftop gas package unit when I was checking the outlet pressure at the gas valve.  When I was done with it, I sort of just moved on to the next item on my list without screwing the pressure port screw back in.  So, when I went to fire up the system and the flames ignited, about three seconds later the flame rolled out towards my face and actually singed my eyebrows a little.  Mmmm, nothing like the smell of burnt hair in the morning.

Obviously, this taught me to be more purposeful when I work on equipment and ultimately made me a better tech for it!

#2 – Mistakes point us to something we didn’t already know.

They teach us little nuances in different equipment.  I see so many technicians just blow through the installation of a new part or full HVAC system and not even read the directions.  Then when the system doesn’t fire up correctly, they don’t know why.

A prime example of this is on the White Rodgers 50 A 55843 control board.  It’s a universal replacement that we like to use for most single-stage gas furnaces in the residential field.  Most of the time, control board change out are like-for-like changeouts.  Plug and play.

Well, when you use this board to replace a Trane XB80 gas furnace control board, there is an adapter you have to use from the box to include a couple of roll-out switches into the Molex connector that plugs into the board.

Almost every time a technician has called to tell me their problem with the start-up after changing the board, I ask if it’s a Trane furnace.  A lot of times they say yes, and I tell them about the paragraph in the installation instructions that speak to this adapter.  And… that technician never calls again about that issue.  In fact, they likely become someone who can be called by junior techs in the field that incur the same problem.

#3 – It humbles us

Making mistakes can bring even the most experienced techs back down to reality very quickly.  It keeps us humble when we make mistakes.  Admitting these mistakes can add some humility back into our lives that will ultimately make us better technicians in the long run.

I’ve heard of some technicians and DIY homeowners who screwed up wiring something as simple as wiring a capacitor wrong.  When they finally realize what they’ve done, whether it’s burning up a compressor, causing the fan spin backward, or something else, they’ll say, “Well, that was a humbling experience.”

Some people just don’t know when to ask for help, or take the time to read the directions.  As the saying goes, it doesn’t matter who’s right, it matters what’s right.

#4 – Mistakes create change

Technicians who have made mistakes in the past and then went on to become great technicians have all asked themselves some internal questions.  “What went wrong?” “What did I learn from this?” and “What could I do better next time?”

Nothing is more humbling than putting your foot through the ceiling while working in the attic.  It’s easy to learn from that mistake.  Watch where you’re stepping, make sure it’s wood that you’re stepping on.  And even then, step squarely onto the wood.

People who have improved their skills by making mistakes reduce the chances they’ll mess up again.  They develop a plan that will help them avoid making similar mistakes.  Ultimately, that might not be the most perfect reaction to your mistake, so be flexible and forgiving to yourself and others who make mistakes on the job.

#5 – Mistakes reveal our true passions.  Is it time to move on?

Not every mistake is going to relate to making us better technicians, but rather better or happier people.  Since I’m in the mood to make myself the example here, I’ll tell you another quick story of a mistake I made, which led to another path.

Before I was an HVAC technician, I was a bartender for 15 years.  I started when I was 20, and by the time I was 35, I had a family, didn’t drink anymore, and didn’t even go out to bars anymore.  But it’s all I knew how to do.  And I was pretty good at it.

One night I asked the wrong person to leave the bar for the night after he called me a not so nice name that involved a couple of cuss words.  My boss had always let us stand up for ourselves and our co-workers who were abused in any way.  Drinkers can get a little feisty sometimes.  Apparently, this person I asked to leave the bar for the night (in a not so nice way) was the wrong person to kick out.

A few days later my boss and I agreed to go our separate ways.  It was likely a culmination of things, like I wasn’t the party guy I used to be, which might have led me to not be as understanding and forgiving toward intoxicated name-callers.  Either way, my final mistake there made me realize that this might not be the job for me anymore.

I started a new job in HVAC and became very passionate about it, which has led me to where I am now.  Funny how life steers you in the direction you didn’t even know you were going.


So why can’t we be more forgiving of those who make mistakes out in the field?  Maybe it’s because we don’t have the patience for new apprentices trying to learn the trade.  Maybe it’s because that mistake has been made by the same person more than once.  I get it.  I’m not saying extra training, disciplinary action or removal from a certain position doesn’t need to happen.  Because it does sometimes.

But, we should all recognize that mistakes will be made by today’s technicians, which is just another generation to make mistakes as we plow forward in this game called life.  Realizing that mistakes are going to be made, we can relax a bit more.  By doing so, we might make fewer of them.

Each one of us is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting.  As our pool of future technicians grows smaller every year, we as the journeymen need to recognize that we made mistakes as we came up in this field, which has led us to where we are now, as valued members of our teams.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and we’ll see you on the next blog post.

Should I Go to HVAC School or Get Hired as an HVAC Apprentice?

Trade School or Apprentice

People entering the trades question whether they should start their journey out by going to an HVAC trade school or by trying to get hired on with a company as an apprentice.  It doesn’t matter where you are in the world.  The answer to that will differ based on the company you’re trying to get on with, and what YOU want as a future employee. 

I think after reading this blog post you’ll have the confidence to start your way into the trades by figuring out this question.


My intention for this post is not to suggest whether you should or should not go to trade or vocational school to start learning your trade.  There are a lot of my audience reading this in a classroom right now.  And really, there’s nothing preventing you from doing both.  You can never have too much training and education.  In fact, my company offers continuous training on a weekly basis.  New information, best practices, and advanced technology are constantly updating in this field.

But if you’re reading this, you’ve decided that working in an office setting is not for you.  You’ve decided you want to work in a different setting.  One that changes on a daily basis.

An HVAC technician that learns installation and service is really diversified and becomes proficient at more than just HVAC skills, but plumbing, gas, electrical, construction, framing, aerodynamics, thermodynamics, roofing, structural engineering, etc.  Where are you going to learn all of this?

My Story

I was a mechanic in the air force after graduating high school, but I don’t think that really played much of part in my first company hiring me, other than I was manageable.  I went to a job fair they had and listened to their job descriptions and everything they had to say.  I deciphered that they really needed install helpers, so that’s what I told them I wanted to do. 

The next day they called me for an interview.  I went in with a polo shirt, jeans and some clean black boots, and breezed right through an interview that basically was held just to see how I spoke for myself.  It was more of a conversation to determine what kind of personality I had.  And, they hired me with no HVAC knowledge at all! 

I started learning how to install HVAC equipment, run gas pipes, line sets, handle high and low voltage, frame out a new return can, and how to run ductwork properly – all while getting paid, and learning some valuable fundamentals for later on in my career as a service technician.  I got some good overtime hours, and pretty much doubled my starting pay within a year.

But is it that easy for everyone?  It can be.

Going the Apprentice Route

Most local companies in your area provide either residential or commercial HVAC services.   Some companies do both.   It really seems like companies who value their employees have no problem training them, or paying for them to go to training after they’re hired.  The benefit to you as a person looking to work somewhere is, these companies get someone trained up the way they need them to be.  It’s also more efficient for you because it saves you a lot of money and you get trained for the job you’ll be performing.  So, you get your training in the classroom either at the shop you work at, or at a school they send you to.

I found most HVAC company owners I speak with would rather take on a new employee who doesn’t have any experience, but has a great personality, than taking on a skilled technician who has no class, can’t hold a conversation, or has no teamwork mentality.  The reason is that they can be trained in the way that the company wants them to be trained.

Early Spring

Bigger companies typically hire more techs per year than smaller companies.  So, if you’re looking to get on with a company, I tell people to start with the bigger companies around town.  Also, February to April, (early spring) is the best time to try because companies are looking to ramp up their staff to get ready for the busy summer season.  And that’s a great way to get on to prove yourself to the company that hires you. 

But I’ve heard that some of those big companies will also lay off folks when it slows back down after the summer.  And that really saddens me.  It’s got to be frustrating for those techs.  But I think everyone makes their own way where they work. 

My company and the company I worked at before don’t practice laying people off.  Some techs might lose some hours because their employer is slow and didn’t have the work for them, but either way, when it did slow down (like every HVAC business does during the off-season) my employer kept me busy because I was out there proving myself worthy of being on the clock every day.

During that first couple of years as an installer, working hard, staying busy, and getting the job done in a timely manner kept me busy all year.  That’s what employers like to see. 

The Facts About Trade School

There’s no such thing as too much education.  Look at the people who check out channels like mine.  It’s because they’re seeking more input about the HVAC field.

An apprenticeship you’ve been given can be shortened significantly with a degree you earn at a trade school.  Completing an organized class dedicated to the HVAC field is a huge help.  The teachers of those classes are typically seasoned veterans who have been out there and done that for years.  Getting the opportunity to learn from these experts is a great opportunity for you to learn and pick up some really good knowledge.

Getting Hands-On Training

Taking classes after you’ve been hired on deepens your understanding of the HVAC industry even more.  And going to a trade school puts you in a setting unlike a university because you’re not sitting in a big lecture hall.  Typically, these training centers have air conditioners, furnaces, heat pumps, ductwork, and other HVAC equipment already set up, so you get hands-on-training while going to class.  It won’t be the same intensity as learning it out in the field, but it’s a great start.

A lot of trade schools have connections with HVAC companies in your area, too.  So, it’s nice to have that in your back pocket as you approach graduation.  That’s the point of it all anyway, to have a job when you get out of school.

At a trade school, you get your degree faster than going to a university.  They will likely require that you take classes that may not have much to do with the HVAC field.  A trade school can get you in and out in about 6 months, which means you have a good start to finding your first HVAC job.

Entering the Real World

Once you do have your diploma, its time to go out and face the music.  Which is what you could have done rather than going to a school anyway.  I’m only saying that because the company that gave me my chance literally taught me everything I knew before going out on my own as an HVAC contractor.  But if you choose the route of getting hired on as an apprentice somewhere or if you graduate from school, you have to go out and find those companies.  You have to take the step to go face to face with the companies you want to work for.  Whether you choose to face them with a diploma in your hand or not is up to you.

Finding a Company

But there are definitely HVAC companies who will hire you right now, with no experience.  It just depends on where they are in their demand for technicians at the time you’re trying to get on with them.  If they’re not hiring, they’re not hiring and that has nothing to with you having a diploma in your hand or wanting to earn your way on with an apprenticeship.  I have had to turn down good people just because I didn’t have room on my team at the time.

Find some companies in your area that have a good reputation.  You can find them by looking at their reviews online.  Try these companies first, because they are doing something right.  They obviously take pride in their company’s practices, so they very likely care about their employees.

My Road to Success

I wanted a real job.  Being an HVAC technician has been the avenue which has gotten me to where I am today.  A husband, father, homeowner, and someone who can afford to go out and do the things I want to do with my free time.  I’m able to save money for my retirement and take care of my medical needs with the insurance I’ve been provided.  It’s a long way from the previous jobs I had which really didn’t offer these extras that a real job provides. 


Hopefully this has helped you on your way to deciding whether to go to a trade school or to try and go straight for an apprenticeship with your local company.

Please leave your comments down below and tell us if you went to school or not.  If you could, tell us how that went for you so those who are reading this can learn from your experiences.  See you on the next post!

Don’t miss our video on this topic:

HVAC Training: 6 Ways to Prevent Damage to Printed Control Boards or PCB’s

How Static Electricity Kills Control Boards

Electrostatic Discharge is a Bigger Problem With Modern Electronics Than it’s Ever Been

When I first learned how to change a control board on a furnace, I was educated by my trainer to take great care in removing any static from myself before removing the board from the box.  He said I could damage the control board before the furnace even ran for the first time after the repair.  It’s called electrostatic discharge and it’s a bigger problem with modern electronics than it’s ever been.  This is what we’re going to talk about this week on Fox Family Heating and Air.

And for those of you who have experience handling control boards, let us know down below in the comments section if you have any other safety suggestions or any good war stories from your time in the field.  We’re always trying to learn as HVAC techs, and there’s no information better than the lessons you’ve learned and can pass on to us.

Reducing Electrostatic Discharge

About a third of all control board failures come from damage caused by electrostatic discharge.  You might have seen those pristine labs where they manufacture control boards.  One of the main goals for these rooms is to reduce static.  Once a control board is created, it’s prone to static damage.  If that damage were to happen at the lab the cost to manufacture another one is very little.  If the damage happens during testing it requires 10 times the cost to make it.  And if that board fails at the customer’s house, it takes 100 times the cost to manufacture a new board at the lab, package it, ship it to an HVAC warehouse, ship to the HVAC contractor, who drives it to the customer’s house, and has it ready for the customer to replace it, and put a warranty on it.

When it comes to static damage to a control board, it’s not so much about the voltage being transferred from you to the metallic parts of the board itself, but the resistance it incurs as it travels through pins, transistors, and other parts of the board along its path to ground.

The Shrink-Down

You’ve seen those big controls and relays that were used on decades-old furnaces.  They’re the same controls used today to direct the sequence of events that start the furnace and shut it down.  Anyone who has worked on an old furnace can tell you those relays and switches take up a lot of space in the control panel.   These days all those relays, transistors and switches have been shrunk down to the point that they now fit on a printed control board the size of a small napkin. 

Those old relays and other controls being larger than today’s parts were constructed with heavier materials.  That’s why they’re more durable over time.  The strength of the materials used to build small control boards is obviously not going to be as durable as those bigger, heavier parts.  You know the saying; “they don’t make them like they used to?”  Well, there’s something to that.

The Victim

A static discharge 20 years ago would have been harmless to those controls.  Today that same discharge through the board can result in catastrophic damage.   Transistors are often the victims of static shock to a control board.  But pins, brittle solder, and the silicon itself can all be deformed by the heat that travels through during a static discharge.

Damage like this can make a control for the blower motor, which is supposed to be off at a given time, to a blower that s always on now.  Or a safety switch that is normally closed to become constantly open.  These parts of the furnace that are needed to work in a certain order can be thrown out of whack very quickly with the slightest arc from your body to the control board.

Unseen Damage

Most people don’t even know they’re charged with static electricity as they cross the carpet floors and on to the HVAC system of a customer’s house until they feel the spark travel from their fingers to the brand-new control board they’re changing out.  Some of those techs also don’t know they’ve just damaged that expensive control board their customer is getting ready to pay for either.

You don’t have to be wearing a flannel shirt and your favorite pair of wooly socks to develop static.  Although clothing like that, as well as other situations, can create a significantly higher amount of energy than the body can store, which will need to be discharged at the next available piece of metal you touch.

Why Inspect?

Suppose you were out on a preventive maintenance or a service call doing a visual check of the backside of a control board.  We all know of the solder connections on the back of those boards which are receptors for a Molex plug that controls many of the basic functions of the furnace.  The heat from even a minuscule 24 volts, over time, will fracture those solder connections, which is why we inspect the back of the boards on a regular basis.  But if we bring with us a body full of static, and touch that control board, we can create a very minor defect in the board, or make a pre-existing, undetected condition even worse.  All of these fractures break down the control board over time until it completely fails.

Every control board I’ve changed was stored in an anti-static bag that comes inside a cardboard box.  Even those anti-static bags are conductive!  But they do help reduce and negate any static electricity the board might encounter during shipping and riding around in the back of your truck.

What Can We Do?

So, what can we do to prevent ourselves from damaging printed circuit boards in the future?

1. Ground Yourself

Do what my trainer told me to do.  Ground yourself to the furnace before touching the delicate components inside them.  Something that has a direct path to earth.  When we ground ourselves, we’re removing any excess voltage we may have created and carried with ourselves as we walked to the furnace.

2. Avoid Carpet and Rugs

Try working in an area where you’re not standing on carpet or area rugs.  These will encourage you to generate static even after you’ve already grounded yourself to the unit the first time!  A canvas drop cloth is less likely to generate that same static.  Working on bare or concrete floors is even more ideal.

3. Humidity Levels

I know you can’t change this while you’re servicing the HVAC system, but understanding the humidity levels in the room can help.  A room that has 40% to 50% humidity is less likely than a dryer room to encourage static.

4. Remove Voltage Potential

Make sure you’ve unplugged the furnace.  You want to make sure there are no electrical currents running through the system.

5. Handle with Care

When you do take the control board out of the anti-static bag, or when you remove one from the furnace to inspect it, make sure you are only touching the sides of the board.  Voltage potential is conducted through all the metallic parts of the board.  These are the areas you don’t want to have your fingers all over.

6. Stay Hydrated

Speaking of hands, keeping your skin moisturized by drinking plenty of water and even using lotion will help keep static-electricity down.  Dry skin encourages static to build up even after you’ve grounded yourself a first time.  You’re not off the hook as far as static discharge goes. Grounding yourself to the furnace multiple times is not unheard of.

Here’s a Little Tip!

Want to reduce the chance of that painful snap between you and the metallic object you choose to ground yourself to?  Use something like your metallic car keys to touch that ground.  This allows the discharge to travel straight through the key instead of going straight to your hand.


I hope this helps you with your question as to ESD damage to control board furnaces.  If you’ll take the time to ground yourself properly, you’ll reduce the chance of transferring the voltage to the control board.

Thanks for stopping by and we’ll see you on the next blog post!

Don’t miss our video on this topic:

Why Do Gas Furnace Control Boards Fail?

How Does a Gas Furnace Work

A bad control board is not uncommon a couple of times a week during a busy winter of service calls here in the Sacramento Valley. What are the parts on a circuit control board that fail, and why?

The printed circuit board of a furnace is the brains of the whole operation.  It’s the quarterback calling the shots down on the field of high and low voltage circuitry we work on every day.  On this week’s Fox Family Heating and Air Blog, we’ll talk about the parts on the control board that fail and explore some of the most common reasons why. 

What’s Failing?

So, what is failing on these boards?  A slice of silicon 10 years old should be the same composition as a 1-year old board, right?  It seems so.  Regardless, aging systems do begin to give more problems than the newer ones.

Printed circuit boards these days are composed of shrunk down relays and switches mounted on a rigid green board to orchestrate the sequence of operations that start up the furnace and gives us heat.  30 and 40-year-old furnaces we see still out in the field have these relays and switches.  They’re just bigger and sturdier because they’re made from more durable parts.

Last week we discussed how the smaller a control board gets, the weaker the material it’s made of.  The material is thinner, the solder connections are smaller, and the relays are made with tinier pieces of plastic and metal.

Control Board Life Expectancy

Our customers might think a control board should last the lifetime of the furnace.  And I’d say 50% of them do!  But all parts on the furnace control board have a life expectancy, and many things can happen to accelerate the aging process of the parts on that board.

Assuming there’s power to the board, it should function properly. If it’s not, there’s nothing we can do to bring it back to factory specifications.  You can’t make field solder connections right there on the spot that are going to meet any kind of standard the manufacturers set when creating the board.  Different soldering alloys will clash, resulting in a temporary fix at best.

Failed Solder Connections

That brings me to my first common failure on a control board.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked about failed solder connections on the back of a control board.  Molex plugs have stems that are secured to the board and soldered in place to adhere to the metallic circuitry that act as wires do in a house.  If the wire has a beak in it, that circuit isn’t going to work. 

When the backsides of those Molex plugs develop a crack, it makes a gap between the stem that goes through the board to the backside where it meets the circuitry.  Any fractures in that solder connection are going to start creating intermittent abnormalities.  There’s a low voltage Molex plug and a high voltage plug that’s going to be a part of any furnace control we work on.

Thermal Expansion

You might ask, “What makes the solder connections fracture like that?”  Two words, thermal expansion.  Once the solder is applied and forms, it remains a very rigid metal with very little plasticity.  Warmth creates expansion.  And that kind of expansion within the solder joints is going to create a gap between it and the stem it’s supposed to be attached to.  This will cause problems with your boards either now or later. 

When I see a control board that has fractured solder connections on the back of the board, I let the customer know it doesn’t meet factory specs anymore and offer to replace it for them so they don’t have problems in the future.

Relays and Switches can Stick, Burn and Pit

Just like a contactor on the condenser outside, the control board at the furnace has miniature relays which allow certain motors to receive the voltage they need to operate.  And just like the contactor on the condenser, those furnace relays start to pit and burn from arcing that occurs across the contacts as they close.

High temperatures can melt the protective coating on the windings of the coil of a relay, which can prevent the contacts from closing in the first place.  Plastic pieces that the contacts are mounted to can lose stability with ambient heat surrounding the relay, too.  This can warp the contacts of the relay causing them to be misaligned and unable to function properly.

Stuck Switches

When an electro-mechanical switch like the ones on our boards is suddenly being used after a long period of downtime, like the end of one winter to start of the next winter, it can become permanently stuck.  Tapping on the relay can sometimes help, but only delays the inevitable failure of the board.

Over-voltage, like in-rush and other voltage spikes, creates constant overheating.  Under-voltage can prevent the contacts of a relay from staying closed securely.  And it’s not just the voltage that’s damaging these parts.  It’s also the current being carried with that voltage which wears out switches prematurely.


Transistors are typically the first part to fail in a control board.  Once again, the damaging heat and energy that hits those transistors due to voltage spikes, or even a little bit of static electricity, can wear out a board prematurely.  This is going to change the composition of the materials they’re made of.   Over time, they just give out, preventing the control board from working properly.

Power Surges

Asking questions with the homeowner can reveal a lot when diving into an HVAC system that isn’t working properly.  A recent thunderstorm or lightning strikes in the area can send a surge through the house’s electrical system.  That surge might not affect the lights or kitchen appliances in the house.  They may not even trip the breaker if the furnace is on at the main panel.  But it might take out the transformer before the board, sending a jolt to that sensitive control board.

Brownouts from the power company are notorious for damaging HVAC equipment.  A reduction in power that suddenly comes back on with no warning can damage the protective coatings on parts, causing them to fail either now, or even a couple years from now.

Another power surge a house can experience is a car accident in the area that may have taken out a power line. As the connections of those high voltage wires attached to the poles rip apart or get stretched, the influx of energy and the damage it causes happens instantly.  

Many HVAC parts have been taken out by these three situations, causing anywhere from a few thousand dollars’ worth of damage, to simply blowing a little 3-amp fuse on the control board.  No one should ever underestimate the freakish damage that can occur to an HVAC system when power surges happen in or around a house.

Static Electricity  

Careless or unsuspecting technicians who walk across a carpeted floor to get to their furnace can build up more voltage on the body than it can store.  As a result, that voltage will need to be transferred to the next piece of metal it comes in contact with.  You don’t want that to be the metal on a control board.  Electrostatic discharge (ESD) can even develop after you’ve grounded yourself to the furnace the first time.  Standing on a carpet can create that static very easily. 

The damage is done to the control board terminals when ESD hits the board.  There are very thin insulating layers within the control board’s transistors, relays, switches, and solder joints that will break it down.  What’s even worse is that sometimes that discharge won’t cause damage to the board immediately.  It’ll damage the insulation to such a degree that the device fails sometimes hours or even years later.

Control Board Degradation Over Time

A diagnosis of a bad control board is not an uncommon one.  But it makes me wonder what that board has gone through during its life to have gotten to the point where it’s now failed.  The parts themselves have an expected life span.  Everyone agrees with that.  But factors such as thermal expansion, power surges, and static electricity all play a big part in the degradation of a control board over time.

We’ve been getting excellent feedback from our fellow technicians like you who are out in the field working on this stuff everyday.  Please feel free to express your opinions and share your stories about failed control boards in the comments section below.  As HVAC techs, we’re always trying to learn, and there’s no better information than the lessons you’ve learned and can pass on to us.

Thanks so much for stopping. We’ll see you on the next blog post!

Professionalism in the Workplace

professionalism in the workplace

Nine Essential Tips for Gaining Professionalism in the Workplace

Hi, this is Greg Fox from Fox Family Heating and Air.  One of my goals for this blog is to bring up-and-coming technicians, existing techs, and even aspiring business owners some insight into the more personal side of HVAC and other blue-collar service industries.  One of my long-time viewers, David Melendez, is an instructor in the HVAC field.  David asked me to discuss a topic that we both feel should be a no-brainer for any job.  Today I’m going to give you nine ways you can come across more professionally at your job, so you can hang on to it for many years.


The way you carry yourself, the way you speak to others, and the way you look each and every day shows your level of professionalism.  Look around; it’s the people around you that look sharp, seem confident, and have the trust of everyone around them who are the leaders in your workplace.  You don’t have to be in a management position to be considered a leader within your company, either.  Leaders will get promoted from within their company, or they’ll get poached from other companies who see their professionalism.

There are just too many blue-collar service technicians who are getting the job done but are leaving their customers and their bosses unsatisfied.

Here are nine ways to make yourself come across more professionally in today’s workplace:

1. Be the eager person you were when you got hired

A good way to gain professionalism is to try not to get complacent with your job.  People get hired because they make promises to the company that they’re going to do this, and are really looking forward to doing that.  Once they’re hired, the fizz on top of their soda runs out, and it seems like people start taking things for granted.  Stay interested in your job.  Looking forward in your career, you’re always showing your customers and your supervisors why they should keep choosing you for the job.

2. Be organized

Keeping your service or install van looking organized and clean is one of the best ways to come across more professionally.  Any supervisor is going to remember who has the dirties vans and who has the cleanest vans.  Those with clean, organized vans will be recognized by their peers, too.  They may see your van’s dashboard wiped down each week with Armor-All.  They may see that it’s washed once a week.  Having a place for everything in your van is definitely the way to go.  There are bins and toolboxes you can get to the store to do this.  It’s easier for people to take you more seriously when you have a clean, well-organized van too.

3. Work smarter, not harder

Having a clean van means you can find things easier, which makes you more efficient.  One of the best pieces of advice I can give you when working on the job site is to be efficient with your moves.  If you are going to your service area to start your job, bring something with you that you might need on a later step.  Also, if you’re going back to the truck to get a part, bring something back with you, that you’re not using anymore.

Installers and service techs could save a great deal of time if they would consolidate their steps.  Meaning if you know you’re going to need your recovery machine early on in your procedure, bring the other stuff you need, too, like an extension cord and the recovery tank.  If you have a free hand when walking back and forth to your service area, you’re probably not being as efficient as you could be.

 4. Admit when you are wrong

Nothing shows integrity more than holding yourself accountable for your actions.  No understanding company is going to fire you if you mess up something but are honest with them.  Dishonesty is probably the quickest way to get let go from your company, because if they can’t trust you, why are you even there?

5. Be on time for work and meetings

When the boss says we have a training session at 7 am on Wednesday, you should be inside that building or sitting in your van waiting to go in at least ten minutes before it starts.  I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but not being on time screams unprofessionalism on your behalf.  If you want to make your instructor or supervisor feel like they’re not important, just keep on being late.  You’ll soon have some other place to be that you can be late to.

6. Dress to impress

Those of us in the service industry may usually have jobs where we get dirty during the day.  Most companies know this and are more lenient with your dress as the day goes along.  You may have had to crawl through the attic to run a new electrical circuit.  You may have had to go under the house to reconnect a duct or repair a pipe.  I’m proud of my techs when I see them getting dirty as their workday goes along.  That means they’re working hard and going into places they should be going to do their job thoroughly.

Having said that, you’re always going to want to be your sharpest looking first thing in the morning.  Having your hair brushed, your boots on, with clean pants, and a clean shirt shows a lot of professionalism.  Always know that people are looking at you every day.  They’re forming an opinion of you whether you realize it or not.

7.  Be reliable

Professionals are reliable.  People know they can count on you to be there if you do it regularly.  On the worksite, being available for your coworkers will earn you a ton of respect.  If you can step in and help someone in a time of need, your peers and everyone else will know.

Always improving your skills by reading material, or getting more specialty tools to make your job easier will make you more reliable.  If you’re not showing your coworkers and company this, you may come across as not wanting to be there, not wanting to improve, not wanting to be counted on.

Professionals are stable.  If you’re the person on your team that surprises people with unwanted or outlandish acts, you will realize no one wants to work with you anymore.

8. Show Confidence

Those of you who are more confident at work will be more successful at work.  Confidence is all about knowing what you can do and doing it well.  It’s about being able to tell your boss, “Yeah, I can do that.”  To be able to take an assignment and do it well takes a lot of pressure off your supervisors.  Do that over and over, and you’ll be on your way up the ladder, too.

9. Speak up

People who are confident speak up more than others.  If something doesn’t make sense or come across clearly, confident people don’t shy away from saying something.  I’m not saying if a company’s policy doesn’t sound right, you should stand up and object in front of everyone in the room.  But you could calmly raise your hand and be called on, and respectfully say what you’re thinking.  I’ve always been that person.  It’s not rude.  And it’s not done to try to get a rise out everyone sitting in the room. It’s actually a leadership quality to play the devil’s advocate sometimes, so all sides are considered.


If you carry yourself well, communicate well, look sharp, and are reliable, you’re going to go far in any company, even if it’s your own.  These are the people who are considered leaders wherever they go.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and we’ll see you next time.