For almost as long as I’ve been covering HVAC and sheet metal, there’s been handwringing about the industry’s aging workforce. 

HVAC work, especially installation, means often crawling around and through tight spaces in conditions that are not always comfortable. It’s not a job many people do until they’re 70. But it pays reasonably well, and the most skilled HVAC and sheet metal workers can earn a very good living.

The reasons for the worker shortage have been discussed many times here and in other industry publications: HVAC is not an industry well-understood by the public, there’s still a bias against industries where a four-year degree is not a prerequisite, and HVAC has historically done a poor job rebutting those beliefs and advancing itself.

This is why I was surprised and impressed recently to hear radio ads promoting a career as an HVAC technician on a major local radio station. I don’t see or hear a lot of TV or radio ads for HVAC companies — both mediums are quite expensive — but I’d never heard of one specifically promoting industry careers.

The ad, one of several that the company is running on the station, pointed out the good pay and benefits an industry career can offer, along with the chance to avoid much of the seasonal work fluctuations common in construction. 

The commercial noted that the HVAC company was looking for experienced service technicians to add to its staff, so it wasn’t part of a call to fix the ongoing worker shortage — except at this company — but it’s the most I’ve heard HVAC work as a career discussed on a mainstream media outlet in some time. I’ll be curious to hear if the campaign is successful.


Article did not correctly cite HVAC research  

The article “Clearing the air” by Robert Rizen in the August 2017 issue misrepresents the origin of the study on coil cleaning. The author claims it was an ASHRAE study. It was not. The study came from an article written by the owner of a company that “manufactures EPA registered disinfectants, cleaners and fungistats for the protection of HVAC systems and other industrial surfaces against mold (and) mildew.” It was published as “Study verifies coil cleaning saves energy” in the November 2006 ASHRAE Journal. Any conclusions must be viewed in that light.

Larry Spielvogel, P.E.

Consulting engineer

Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania

Snips poll results poll results 

How often do you notice visible ductwork when visiting restaurants, shops or other public spaces?

98% Always. I’m constantly looking up to check out the quality of duct installations.

2% Sometimes. I’m usually more interested in my meal or getting my shopping done.

0% Never. I see enough ductwork all day at work.