For their sixth mission, we asked Blake, Brenan and Michael to think about where they live and work. To consider the potential differences by region and investigate some of those seasonal and regional differences that make their market unique.
And, to consider how, as an HVAC pro, these differences can impact them. Things like weather, environmental conditions (extreme heat, extreme cold, humidity, etc.), local codes, etc.
Check out their responses:
Blake Hodge: Factors Affecting the HVAC Field
Like any place, there are many factors that can impact work done in the field. There are many regions that deal with different kinds of weather, seasons, and codes affecting their work. Of course, every company and worker in the field must adapt in order to overcome challenges that will face them. The challenges faced can lead to long days of work, tough days of work, or in some cases, no work. Many precautions must be made in order to ensure there is always enough work and equal staff to complete all the work.
Where I come from in Michigan, we deal with almost all weather imaginable. I would say that the only types of weather that do not affect Michigan are hurricanes and earthquakes. In Michigan you truly see all seasons of weather: harsh winters, wet springs, scorching summers, and cool falls. In my short 20 years of life, I’ve seen my small hometown of Portland endure a tornado, a major ice jam leading to flooding, and winter blizzards with devastating ice storms. All of these different conditions force companies in my state, and the entire region around us, to be prepared for all sorts of HVAC needs.
Our market is unique because you have to be as equally knowledgeable in heating and cooling. Under the circumstances we face, a technician may be fixing an air conditioner in late August, then turning around and installing a new furnace in early September. Companies and their staff must be ready to adapt and change as quick as the weather does. In winter months, heating is a necessity to life, so technicians must be ready to go on a call 24/7. If there is no heat in a home for even just a short period of time, disasters can occur like water lines freezing and bursting causing flooding.
Our Northern/Eastern region differs greatly from Southern and Western regions. In Southern and Western regions, the main focus is always going to be cooling. This results in their regions having tougher codes concerning efficiency of their equipment. Air conditioners installed in these regions must achieve a higher SEER rating than those I have installed. Some lower efficiency air conditioners I have installed even have a portion of the label stating, “Installation Prohibited in Southwest and Southeast.” Although their efficiency codes are stricter, many of the codes are the same when regarding the installation of these units.
Even though I have only been working in the field for a few years, I have seen weather greatly affect HVAC in my area. Seasonal weather changes make the job more challenging, but also make it more rewarding when done correctly. Just like seasons, codes will also change and force workers in the industry to adapt. It is up to us to keep up with all of the changes that are thrown our way, and get used to working in these environments.
Brenan Vogt: Tackle Issues, No Matter the Season
Living in Iowa, seasons are very different from one another, but the demand for furnaces and heat is a little higher than A/C season. While summers can be hot, it’s not very common to get above 100 degrees. Winter on the other hand can get pretty cold, getting to -20 a few times a year. Different regions are obviously going to have a more dramatic or less dramatic swing, but I think that being in Iowa gives a good mix of both, creating a good seasoned tech that’s able to tackle issues no matter the season.
Humidity is one of Iowa’s bigger struggles during both winter and summer. In the winter, humidity levels get pretty low because of the extreme temperatures, so humidifiers are a very practical option to prevent static in homes, and even dry skin and bloody noses. In the summer, humidity levels in homes can rise rapidly if equipment were to be oversized causing runtimes to be low, so sizing equipment properly is important. Another alternative is to get a whole house dehumidifier that taps into your ductwork.
Michael Clemons: Working Around the Conditions
Everywhere you go as a contractor, there are different conditions that you have to work around. It can vary widely from different parts of each state. As a HVAC technician in central Iowa, we must deal with a wide variety of temperatures and a wide range of humidity.
In a field all about air quality we must battle every part of the weather. From reducing the humidity to adding heat to customers’ homes. One of the main complaints I hear in the field over summer is that the customer’s second story isn’t cooling as well as it used to, or it seems to be really humid up there. In the winter you hear a lot about systems not cooling well when it gets extremely cold out. Here in central Iowa we seem to have hot humid summers and dry cold winters. One of the best descriptions of our weather that I have heard from customers is that “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 10 minutes.” I would say I have to agree with them.
For example, in one today, it started raining and it was very muggy. By the time lunch came around, it was almost 90 degrees and extremely humid. I believe that the Midwest is very diverse in its weather and I like it for that fact. It keeps us busy for most of the year and as a technician that’s all I can as for.