Going the Extra Mile

How many times have you heard workers complain about the boss? Well, it’s more than a couple dozen for me.

I have been in the hvacr industry for 21 years and I have learned a lot. I am now with a shop in the south side of Chicago and I have never met a person like this. I have known this man for a while and he has offered me a position many times before.

About four months ago, I came to this man and his son and asked for a position in service. Well, to say the least, I am pleased to be here. I am treated like family and my views and opinions are listened to. My boss and his son, who is the vp, always pat me on the back and care.

So yes, I make the coffee, pick up the parking lot, clean the ashtrays, and go that extra mile because they care. The owner’s other son works here too and is in charge of inventory and chasing parts down. He does a darn good job and keeps me posted on what the techs are doing.

This is a well-oiled watch! We all have pride and commitment in our work and strive to do better than 110% all the time. Some of you techs out there might call it sucking up, but I call it caring for the people who care about you. I am proud to be here; I plan to be here for a long while and continue to strive for quality.

Give it all you’ve got and show your bosses that there are people (techs) out there who think there’s more to life than a paycheck.

T. Colby Service Engineer Sub Zero Refrigeration Chicago, IL

Overworked and Underpaid

I do think there is something to that, when you figure that generally other trades (carpenters, electricians, plumbers) make better wages on average than a lot of hvacr techs. This is especially noticeable in facility engineering positions, where sometimes the skills differential is quite noticeable. Hvacr techs don’t really have a trade union per se and therefore don’t reap the benefits of union in either wages or training. Other trades usually have a plan that tells them where everything goes, what wires to run, so troubleshooting skills aren’t really learned.

The major bone is design engineering; if the equipment takes up 5 cu ft that’s all they allot since, as we all know, nothing ever breaks (it was engineered, therefore it doesn’t break). If they lent a bit of an eye towards having to service this equipment, or (heaven forbid) that engineers serve some time doing service work as part of their educational process instead of learning from the tradesmen onsite (who usually make a lot less than the engineer), then perhaps there wouldn’t be so many bad backs from having to change compressors from hard-to-get-to locations.

You can definitely see the “I’ll never be back here again” or “that will be someone else’s problem” attitude. It’s going to get harder and harder to get people into a field that will give you a thrashed body, uncompetitive wages, and relatively continuous contact with a public that is convinced that you are overpaid and trying to “rip them off.” But if you want a technically challenging, constantly changing, interesting, and professionally rewarding career, forget the big $$ and go hvacr. I still like it. Steve Mikel Refrigeration Tech Raytheon Polar Services McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica

Improving the Hvacr Professional

Licensing and education should be tied together. The hvacr industry has become more technical and requires highly skilled technicians. As a technical advisor and trainer in this industry, I find that most technicians don’t know or understand the basics.

I believe that education should be required for the licensing of journeymen and masters in our industry. The trade schools, community colleges, and state licensing authorities should work together to develop a basic course that technicians can attend on a part-time basis while they work as apprentices.

Continuing education should be required to renew either a journeyman or masters license. This could be a seminar offered by the schools or the manufacturers. However, the licensing authority should approve the amount of time required and the subject matter.

In Maryland, the idea of continuing education has worked well for professionals such as real estate and insurance salespersons or brokers. We must start to treat the technician and the contractor as professionals. Without education and licensing, the industry will continue to have a shortage of skilled personnel. Harvey Caplan Technical Trainer and Advisor US&D/Rheem Baltimore, MD

A History Lesson

Please don’t be offended as it is my policy to be direct, so as to avoid misunderstandings, I would like you to ponder a few things in light of [editor Mark Skaer’s] editorial in the June 5 issue ofThe News.

1. In 900 A.D., the Vikings established permanent colonies in Iceland and Greenland. The average global temperatures were 2° to 3°C warmer than they are now. What caused that? White Europeans didn’t yet occupy North America.

2. The first goal of any government bureaucracy is self-preservation. They should not be believed without corroborating evidence.

3. You shouldn’t damn progress without looking at the benefits. How many people wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for the technological benefits brought on by fossil fuels, refrigeration, and electricity. Weigh into the balance dire predictions (that rarely are even close to reality) that are used as reasons to impact our lives.

Call me about Carl Sagan’s predictions sometime. If the press had any credibility, they would have carted him out after his predictions were proved false to show that highly educated people have fewer logic skills than your ordinary mechanic. Greg R. Snyder President Edwards Refrigeration Ft. Collins, CO

Logistics of CO Backdraft?

I have taken your magazine for many years and have found it interesting and informative.

I must comment on a May 29 front-page article titled, “A/C and Heating Ran While Six Died in NY.”

Although I read the explanation through several times, I have no idea what caused this tragedy. From the information and terminology supplied, a person could make several different guesses as to the cause. But I could not draw a firm conclusion. Steve Brooks Owner American Air Conditioning Austin, TX

Author Jim Norland’s Reply: A May 16 press release from the Nassau County Executive’s office (Thomas S. Gulotta) explains the Roslyn Heights, NY tragedy this way:

“According to an ongoing investigation by Nassau County’s Homicide Squad into the May 7 accident in Roslyn Heights, a clogged central air conditioning filter forced the air conditioning unit’s fan to pull the carbon monoxide exhaust from the chimney used to vent a nearby heating system. The central air conditioning unit then circulated the carbon monoxide throughout the home. Both the heating system and the air conditioning unit were operating simultaneously, according to police.”

On May 8, Reuters incorporated this quote in their story of the CO poisoning: “The air conditioner was causing a back draft, sucking the air down the flue of the heater and recirculating it throughout the house,” Nassau County Police Sgt. Robert Edwards said.