There are a number of home service repair industries that we are all familiar with: plumbers, electricians, roofers, and of course HVAC technicians. Service repair fields generally require skills that take time to truly hone. When problems arise, homeowners often attempt to do some of the work with their own skill set.
If there are loose shingles on the roof, a homeowner might attempt to repair their roof. A leaky pipe may also be attempted by a homeowner, or perhaps installing a ceiling fan. But if your A/C system ceases, there is not much an untrained person could do beyond checking the thermostat display and the filter. This is an area that most people agree should be left up to a professional. So you call an HVAC company expecting that someone skilled will come out and repair your system. Ever wonder what that technician had to learn in order to work on a system?
While going to a trade school was not always a requirement in times past, it has become more and more valued in the HVAC industry. Aspiring technicians may take a course anywhere from 6 months to 4 years learning about the operation and repair of HVAC systems. These individuals are often given the opportunity to specialize in particular equipment categories.
Some of the categories include residential HVAC, commercial refrigeration, and building automation. As the name suggests, residential HVAC graduates are the ones aspiring to work on home heating and cooling systems. Those in the 6 month course are typically given an extensive look into the operation of a cooling system and how to repair them.
2 year graduates spend considerable time learning about both the heating and cooling cycle. Finally, 4 year graduates master the cycle and learn special calculations used in the industry. Those in the final category are typically individuals hoping to become project managers or engineers.
Not all technicians start out in college. They may have started as a technician’s assistant or an installer’s helper. These dedicated people picked up their diagnosis skills from their apprenticeship. Whether you started in college or learned on the job, one thing is for sure: you have only learned the surface of the industry.
Entry level technicians are often assigned to maintenance roles. In these roles they get time to prove they have grasped the fundamental skills they need. When they correctly detect potential problems and make correct recommendations to customers, it reflects their potential as a skilled technician.
At Gainesville Mechanical, we also have our maintenance technicians complete mandatory post-secondary education. We think from the time a maintenance technician is assigned to work on your system, he should be far along in his training. This post training is completed by means of third party certification.
Third Party Certification
There are several high level certifications that a technician can reach out for and attain through rigorous study. The two most elite, however, are ASHRAE certification and NATE certification. ASHRAE is typically for commercial and industrial technician’s working on equipment far different from what you will find in homes.
NATE certification is the most recognized certification in the residential community, though NATE does have certifications for commercial technicians as well. Gainesville Mechanical requires their technicians to become certified through NATE once they join the company. The most important thing that NATE certification shows is that a technician did not just memorize formulas and textbook information. It shows that the technician took what they read and applied it to solve problems. Achieving this elite certification is another step towards becoming a masterful technician.
Learn more about NATE by visiting their website here
After some time as a maintenance technician, that individual may be invited to move into the field as a junior technician. By this point, these technicians should have honed their people skills, diagnosis skills, and proven their dependability. However, this is not the end of the training for this technician. In fact, even the most senior technician in the company would never truly be done with their training.
Our industry is driven by forward thinking equipment manufacturers. These manufacturers have innovative engineers, who are busy making HVAC systems operate more efficiently and conveniently for homeowners. In the past few years, for example, HVAC systems have become ‘smart.’
The ‘Internet of Things’ is a term that is used more and more frequently. This describes how HVAC systems interact with users and data through the cloud to deliver better results, experience, and efficiency. Heating and cooling systems taking advantage of the internet of things adjust their operations based on what times you are home, what weather conditions are like, and can even be adjusted via a phone or tablet thousands of miles away! These heating and cooling systems are so advanced they can alert you and your service company to possible system issues via email or text.
The internet of things is a dream come true to homeowners. But a decade ago, that’s exactly what it was: a dream. These new units use powerful motherboards, inverters, motors, and other parts that hardly any technicians would have heard of before. Therefore, reputable companies send their technicians to manufacturer sponsored classes to learn about these parts and equipment.
In these classes, manufacturers describe the operations of these new equipment and how to diagnose and repair them. These classes can range in length, but can usually be completed in less than a week. Gainesville Mechanical works with manufacturers to ensure these training classes are held on the weekends so that our customers we can ensure we provide full service to our customers during the week, while also keeping our technician team up to date on the industry.
Key Points For Homeowners
Heating and Air Conditioning is an incredibly skilled field. The number of technicians who have true training are very limited. No matter what company you use be sure to inquire about some key information: Are they NATE certified? If not, are they working towards certification currently? Do they take continuing education courses? How long did it take that person to become a diagnostic technician?
Not all technicians are equal and these key questions will help you determine if your service technician really knows more than you do about the problems you’re having. It’s for this reason that from the time an aspiring technician joins Gainesville Mechanical we begin to train them and have them certified. Even technicians coming from another company with years of experience are subject to those rules – they must get NATE certified and they must take continuing education courses.
Next time you have a technician servicing your system, take a moment to think about how hard they have worked to be in front of you making recommendation. It all goes back to making sure each customer gets expert service and solutions!