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Any HVAC/R guys here

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by MichaelS, Feb 10, 2008.

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  1. MichaelS

    MichaelS New Member

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    Are any of you guys in this field? I just started taking a 2 year course and was wondering how you guys like it and how you found your first job? I cant seem to find anyone that wants less than 3 to 5 years experience. I have 1 company that has had an ad in our local paper for a month looking for Service guys, Installer/Maint. guys and Ductwork installers I am going to go check out next week.

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm going to move this to the boiler room....because that is where HVAC guys hang
  3. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    learn all you can about wood boiler operation which includes all bio-fuels. There is going to be an explosion in this field in the next few years and there is very little knowledge here on how to make this work. Learn how to set up, pipe, and control and then connect to solar. As you can tell from reading here on the board there is very few pro's out there. Thats my take on it.
    leaddog
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    We have about half a dozen HVAC pros here, all of whom do some wood boiler installations.

    For a wider selection, check out:

    http://forums.invision.net/index.cfm?CFApp=2

    Nothing but pros on that site, and they like to help and encourage people looking to get into the trade.
  5. mtfallsmikey

    mtfallsmikey New Member

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    I hope you can find a job with a company who is willing to train and mentor you properly. without you picking up bad habits. Main thing is to get experience in all of the related HVAC fields, especially controls. A definite shortage still exists for good techs, even with the sour economy. I've been doing this now for 35 yrs., have zero regrets..best of luck to you...mfm
  6. MichaelS

    MichaelS New Member

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    Southwest Missori
    Thanks guys, I got my first job interview today. I applied for a Installer tech position. I will have to take a 2.00hr. paycut to start but I hope it will payoff in the end. Seemed like a good guy and he has been in business since 1978 so he must be doing something right.
  7. Metal

    Metal Minister of Fire

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    I have nothing but respect for someone willing to start at the bottom and work their way up. From everything I read in the trade mags there still is a shortage of techs out there, so once you get some experience you shouldn't ever have to worry about being unemployed.
  8. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Northwood, NH
    Most folks who have the technical mind for this stuff don't want to get their hands dirty, so they go into computers. We have a severe shortage of techs as a result.

    Of course, computer jobs can be outsourced, while hands-on work cannot. I don't regret getting into this business. Despite the physical demands and long hours, I just had to talk to a friend who works in computers and hear them talk about how scared they get whenever a department is audited ("what if it's the prelude to closing that department?!") or the least little thing got mentioned on the news about jobs moving out of the US, and I would know that I made the right choice...

    Joe
  9. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    I had a laugh on this one. I'm imagining some corporate executive trying to figure out how to send a heating system to China to be built over there and sent back! Sadly, someone, somewhere, is probably trying to figure that out.

    Sorry, I don't work in the industry. But, I can say that I enjoyed every minute of putting in my own heating system (hydronic/radiant) and then adding the wood boiler. And then putting in central air, too.

    Around here, there is a shortage of skilled tradesmen across the board. I should think that once you get some experience, you'll never have difficulty finding a job again.

    My only advice - Don't be one of those guys that guesses at everything. (It's OK to use the rule of thumb methods to verify that your calculations are valid. In fact, it's a very good idea!) I had already done the calcs for my house before getting quotes. No one that quoted actually did a heat loss - one guy oversized by double and the other guy sized at 65% of what I calced. Proof is in the installation - my system is sized just a tad big. My buddy converted from electric to hydronic in his house. He wouldn't listen to me and do the calcs. Used someone that is highly regarded around here. He has some rooms that are always too hot, some always too cold, and when the temps get down to 0 the system can't keep up. Sorry, I expect more than that from a professional. And I love to rub it in that I don't have any of those issues in the system I put in for myself.

    That being said, I hope you found a top-notch company to work for! I think your work environment may have as much to do with job satisfaction as what you do. Best of luck to you!
  10. brad068

    brad068 Feeling the Heat

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    Central Wisconsin
    After reading this forum and taking in all the knowledge around here, you might as well go start your own business. Because you will probably be smarter than your boss and we all know how that will end up ;-P
  11. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Oh, they sort of have it already. Some heating systems using small tankless water heaters instead of boilers aren't field-repaired. If the system fails, the tech grabs a spare tankless from his truck and swaps it for the broken one, then takes the broken one back to the shop.

    That way, you have one guy who actually knows what he's doing, who sits at the shop and repairs the broken heaters on a bench, and the techs just know how to shut off power and a few valves, loosen a few unions, and not much more.

    Joe
  12. MichaelS

    MichaelS New Member

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    Southwest Missori
    Thanks for all the comments guys. I got the job and will be the lead installer when I get up to speed. It is mostly changeouts mixed with some new construction. There are a couple of things I disliked right off. 1 is he doesnt care how it looks, just get it done fast and 2 He is really hard to work for because he talks down to everyone and complains constantly. He has taking a liking to me for some reason and works with me but treats my helpers pretty bad. I guess it will be some good experience in the end.
  13. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    Like someone said get some experience and find a way to go out on your own. It's a good hands on business with alot of upside if you can do all types of systems. For the future doing wood and pellet / biomass fueled systems should be an advantage as "normal" people start to get interested the wood systems, regular firewood fueled systems will still be often done by the DIYer but the automated systems will be the ones you can sell to the average person.
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Congratulations Michael! Usually an owner is very concerned about his company's reputation, unless that is, he's planning on getting out soon. Sounds like your boss just wants the dollars rolling in for retirement. But that could be a good thing if you're interested in taking over the business. This may be why he's taken a liking to you. Keep doing good work with an eye for detail. It's your reputation and job satisfaction you need to watch out for, not his.
  15. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Yup. When someone comes to service that system, and sees your name on it, you're the one he's going to rant about if it's not done right.

    The last time I worked as a lead installer for a company, I'd hand the helpers a Sharpie at the end of the job, and each one put his name on the side of the boiler, just below where I had put my name.

    Joe
  16. MichaelS

    MichaelS New Member

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    Today after lunch the owner came up and said we needed to talk for a minute. I thought to myself, What did I do? He said with my diagnostic ability and go get it attitude he was making me a Full Time Service Tech starting Monday.
  17. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    Burbs of B'more, MD, Hon!
    Congrats on the promotion; just make sure the compensation matches the position. I believe that you really have to start out at the bottom and work your way up. How fast you move will be determined by YOU! Don't be afraid to ask for a raise if you feel it is warranted. Most business owners (sadly) are only concerned with the bottom line, quality and appearance seems to be secondary. FWIW, I have found that my "talents" seem to be recognized more by the smaller guys. Just don't be afraid to throw in the towel when the s#!+ gets too deep and move on. If the guy starts to imply "partnership" or "selling the business" make sure he is serious. I have been led down that path before. Still working for someone else at the present; it seems a lot simpler to let someone else handle the business aspect and concentrate on reputation and performance.

    There seems to be a very thick "glass ceiling" between the residential contractors and the commercial guys. I made a sideways move into commercial work back in '89 right when the bottom fell out of the commercial real estate business. I was being paid helpers wages, but they put me out in a truck right away when they realized that I wasn't going to be blowing stuff up. This isn't so bad when you are young and having enough beer money is your first priority. I "suffered" under this arrangement for a number of years but I realized that I was learning a lot on the way. After all, we were "lucky to have jobs" back then. I met a lot of great people in the business who I have maintained contact with to this day and regularly sell product to now. Reputation (IMHO) is most important in the service business. You may be able to bull$#!+ your way for a while, but if you really know your stuff, people will recognize this after a while. They will even put up with your idiosyncracies, but only if you are good at what you do! Learn all you can, and keep your eyes open for the next good opportunity. I know lots of commercial contractors looking for competent help these days. These positions aren't generally advertised; you have to have a good connection to the grapevine to know about them.

    Good luck!

    Chris
  18. MichaelS

    MichaelS New Member

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    Thanks for the tips Chris.

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