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Are We Losing The True HVAC Service Technician?

 

Much as the title would suggest the HVAC/R industry seems to be, as a whole, losing the those technicians which understand the science and principles behind HVAC. It is somewhat a mystery as to why, however much of the reasoning behind the trend is not such a mystery after all.

If you were to ask the average HVAC/R service technician what specific volume, evaporator pressure regulator, compression ratio, or for that matter any other question regarding principle cornerstones of the trade they would be dumbfounded. You would most likely find out that the only ones that could answer, with consistency, would be members of the older generation. Why is this?

A first glance one might even be under the impression that the knowledge base of service technicians has increased. After all there is NATE, vocational training, state apprenticeships, licensing, and many other organizations or programs that would, at first glance, lead one to believe the trade is better off. Without getting too far into the many reasons, we would like to focus you in one direction, marketing & profits. Before we go any further it would be important to mention that profits and marketing alone are not bad. It is when they are abused that things become unstable.

The HVAC/R industry is so overly saturated with marketing concepts and how to pull the next customer in that quality and skill set is simply overlooked. Why repair it when you can replace it. Replacements, especially when one removes the costs of doing the job right is much more profitable than repair. When service technicians are pretty much demoted to installs it is simply the natural affect to lose the precepts of HVAC/R principles. This is no doubt what has been witnessed for the past ten years or so.

The phenomena, if you will, mentioned above also would explain why despite training and programs, service technicians are still not able to properly diagnose and repair equipment. It is like anything else, you have to use it to become efficient at it. Semi-hermitic compressors used to be common and still can be seen quite often but rapidly enough even they are disappearing. The average technician used to be able to rebuild compressors and properly diagnose compressor failure. Now, technicians are pushed to quote replacements over repairs.

Many technicians these days can not accurately diagnose commercial equipment. They can get close but not in relation to precision. “Ah well, the compressor is bad..Might as well replace the equipment”. This is why so many customers have to place so many service calls in order to get close to what is wrong. Look, this is not necessarily the service technicians fault. After all they must do as their employer direct them and the employer does what the industry demands. That is really where all this comes to a head. It is no longer really just about HVAC companies getting over on customers. Much of this is driven by customers seeking the lowest price without considering quality as part of the job.

Like many other problems, the HVAC/R industry didn’t simply arrive at this point. This has been boiling for years and now it is at a pinnacle. It is so bad now that even manufactures of HVAC equipment no longer produce equipment intended to last but rather focus their marketing on replacements as well. This means they are making more equipment that is cheaper in quality and therefore cheaper in price. Price is what drives that market to a large extent. Why would a manufacturer continue to produce equipment that is able to be repaired and last much longer when HVAC providers are buying cheaper equipment for equipment replacement rather than repairing customer equipment?

From where we stand, there is no doubt that the HVAC/R industry needs to do a U-turn in order to avoid losing the need for skilled service technicians that can do more than drop in a new unit and braze. This does not mean that technology needs to be placed on hold. Technology is great and should continue to progress where practical but HVAC providers should begin to focus more on repairs than replacements. Replacements should only be an option when in all honesty PROPER repair is not. Proper repair meaning that the equipment is able to regain proper operation per manufacturer specifications. Obliviously we are not talking about avoiding replacements when it comes to relics.

Thanks for reading and be sure to think us know what you think.

 
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