In looking back over just the past week, I realized that every day on the job I hear a story involving a sizing problem. Today I heard a guy say that he was replacing a furnace, coil and condenser in a condo. I know that this is a prime topic for “new” material, so I asked what size unit he was going to install. The response was a 100,000 BTU, with a 3-ton, etc, until he found out that the supplier was out of stock. He then changed course and went with a 125,000 BTU furnace with a 4-ton coil and condenser.
I sensed a giggle coming. “What did the load calc call for?” I asked foolishly. “The what?” “Never mind. How big is this condo?” I asked. “I dunno, it’s small; maybe seven or eight hundred square feet,” he replied. “That’s an awful lot of heat and A/C in a small place.” “I know, right?” sneered the technician. “I should probably charge them more!”
Oh, yeah, that’s what you should do.
If you don’t know why we’re all laughing right now, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. Please, get back in your station wagon, take your $29 tool kit and your cloth “duck” tape with you, and find a new career. Maybe you can try the mining industry; you can use all of your hammers there and you don’t even need a drop cloth. You know, a drop cloth — the thing you put down on the floor to keep it … ahhh, just forget it.
I wish I could disagree with, or at least say it’s not like that everywhere, but I can’t. There was a time when HVAC “Mechanics” would build a system from scratch, there was no such animal as a packaged, or matched split system. In my opinion two things have dumbed down our trade. First, there are not many parents or high school guidance counselors steering kids anywhere but to colleges. The trades? Well you only go into the trades if your only other options are the military, or jail. The old timers are retiring or moving into office positions, and the vacuum they are leaving behind is pulling in anything it can find. What’s the second problem? The industry itself is doing its best to dumb down the trade by placing emphasis on reading “idiot lights” and making electronic gauges that calculate superheat and Subcooling for you. It’s not too late though, if everyone who cares takes an active part in the industry we can turn things around; get involved with your local technical school, hire apprentices and teach them the right way, if you’re a business owner, send your technicians to all the continuing education training you can find.