As much as I love the HVAC industry, I used to tie a sense of hopelessness to it. I often wonder how many fellow HVAC brothers and sisters have done the same. At some point in our careers, many of us have felt like we’re waging a constant battle of low-price bids and under-appreciative customers.

I was one of these people, until I met National Comfort Institute’s (NCI’s) Rob Falke and Al D’Ambola back in 2000. I had considered a new career in a different industry because I saw no light at the end of the tunnel. I was struggling with the idea of continuing a career in an HVAC marketplace that weighed so heavily on a prevailing low-bid mentality.

I’m glad to say I stuck it out. I learned a new way to approach my HVAC career that made my job fun again.

I never really examined what took place during that time, but everything seemed to click one Saturday morning during a discussion with my teenage son. Our discussion had me questioning how many people stop and give up right when they’re at the point of a major breakthrough or success.

But first, a little background: About three years ago, Dominick Guarino sent me a link to a video titled “212 – The Extra Degree.” The video focused on giving extra effort when others wouldn’t. After that, I kind of forgot about the video until that Saturday morning.

As you read this article, keep these numbers in mind: Below 32°F, water is solid; above 32°, water is a liquid; at 212°F, water turns into steam. Change will always occur depending on the level of heat that’s applied.


The talk I had with my son came out of nowhere. He was feeling down about not getting an opportunity to contribute in an activity he felt he deserved. He knew he was capable of helping, but wasn’t getting the chance to prove himself. Not only was he struggling with the current situation, but also how to deal with it.

I talked with him about being persistent, the benefits of struggle, and how our psyche is tested to see if we’re ready to make the jump to the next level. He didn’t appear to be buying it, and I needed to do something quickly, as his interest was waning.

From out of nowhere, as if by magic, I remembered that video from years ago and headed to my laptop to show him. After three minutes of watching this video, our discussion continued. It amazingly turned into a talk about what heat transfer can teach us about fortitude and persistence. This month I’d like to share some of those thoughts and parallels with you.


Consider what happens to water when the temperature increases from 211° to 212°. A tremendous amount of energy is released all at once as boiling water is converted to steam. This is the same type of action that occurs when a breakthrough or success is reached because of the consistent application of that extra degree.

Latent heat (hidden potential) is converted all at once as though it came out of nowhere, yet, all along, this potential was slowly building through the application of consistent heat. When water boils at atmospheric conditions, 970 Btu of heat is released all at once as a change of state occurs. It takes the consistent application of heat to reach this level and to maintain it.

If you remove heat from water, the temperature starts to drop. You have to start over, as your momentum is lost. Heat has to be reapplied to get back to the boiling point. The more heat you apply, the faster you reach 212°.

On the lower side of the temperature range, the amount of latent heat that converts ice to water is only 144 Btu. Even though there is still an extra degree of change, the intensity isn’t quite there yet. The momentum hasn’t really begun to accelerate, even though a change of state from ice to liquid has occurred.

We change as a direct result of our habits, and this doesn’t take place overnight — it’s the result of hard work. As you start to work hard, things might not happen as quickly as you would like them to. The extra degree takes us out of our comfort zone and allows us to do things we normally wouldn’t. Getting up an extra hour early or turning off the television may be required to realize your dreams.

As the temperature continues to increase from 32° to 212°, it takes only 180 additional Btu from this point to boil water. Change occurs very slowly; this is why we must keep adding the extra degree. It takes an increase of 179° to get from ice to water to boiling and change state again. Many stop before they have the opportunity to reach this level, as it doesn’t seem to come quick enough.


To know where you’re going, you have to define your 212°. Unlike water, each of us has a different boiling point. I would encourage you to decide what would constitute your boiling point in life. You have to define what you want to achieve and put it in writing. Put it in front of your face so you see it every single day. If you really want to crank up the heat, assign a deadline date as to when you want to reach your 212°.

You must keep adding an extra degree, every day, and consistently apply heat if you want to succeed. There’s no thermometer to let you know how close you’re getting to 212°. You never know when you’re going to move from 211° to 212°. A major breakthrough that could be one step away will be missed unless you continue to add that extra degree.

Will this be easy? If it were, everyone would already be doing it. Make a pact with yourself to achieve what you’re capable of. Start adding the extra degree today from wherever you are. The trick is to start — just one degree at a time.

This isn’t a one-time event. Just as a furnace or boiler cycles over and over again to heat a home, you’ll have to apply the extra degree to various phases of your life as you grow and your conditions change.

The symbol: +1° is something my son and I came up with as a result of our discussion. +1° is the extra degree that needs to be added and applied every day to get you closer to your real potential and help you achieve your dreams in this industry or in life.

Publication date: 7/27/2015

Want more HVAC industry news and information? Join The NEWS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn today!