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Something to Ponder on National HVAC Technicians Day

(Editor’s Note – Special thanks to Mr. Rick Kincel for contributing this month’s Editorial)

By Rick Kincel

I installed my first central system with my father in 1975 and after a stint in the Air Force, I have been working in the industry since 1978. The one thing that has always been in the back of my mind is our job titles. We did not get a cool name like Electrician, or Hydronic specialist. We were always the AC guy. I always wanted more for my chosen career field, but all we ever got was: “Hey, the AC guy is here,” (and before I get labeled sexist) or “Hey, the AC girl is here.”

Even when I became NATE certified 20+ years ago (Which was a very proud moment by the way) and the many certifications that followed, never seemed to be the right tag for the huge variety of work skills we needed to do this job. We had to understand some carpentry, plumbing, electrical, electronics, combustion efficiency, ventilation, thermal dynamics, refrigeration, brazing, airflow, dehumidification, humidification, and duct design, to name a few.

It was not until my later years, after 20 years of running a successful HVAC business that I began teaching and learned how little I knew about this business. But what I do know is that there are a huge number of proud contractors and techs that want to do the right thing and so they study. They study Install instructions, operation manuals, and trade trends. They run their own businesses or support their company owners as if it were their own business. Well educated or barely educated we have found a way to feel pride in what we do, and how we can provide for our families.

Even with the never ending summers, the late night calls from good customers, or even the many holidays spent in someone else’s home while their kids opened gifts or searched for eggs, there we were, in the background of the holiday picture, checking the thermostat or coming down the attic stairwell.

We also had to constantly change with the technology or figure out strange terms. Gas heaters went from standing pilots to IID to HSI and back to IID. We saw 60% ,70%, 80%, and now many 90+% AFUE units. Heat pumps showed up in the 70s and moved the condenser to inside space and took heat from 20 degree outside air to heat the home.

Four-way valves that only flow two ways. TXVs that changed to TEVs when we figured out Xpansion had an E in it. Finally, the EEV that did not require thermal bulbs anymore just temperature activated electronic thermistors.

Refrigerants changed from Carrine 7 to R22 to R410a to 15 different “best drop ins” to two different A2Ls, and that is just in the residential industry.

Mineral oil to POE to PAG to?

It is funny going back to the infancy of our trade the one thing that is constant is that we don’t cool air we remove heat. We teach our students there is no such thing as cold only an absence of heat.

Finally, a constant.

The guy that invented our trade, Willis Carrier, not only built the first Dehumidifier and Comfort cooling equipment, he also built a Psychrometric Chart (A chart that plots “Psychro”). And what is Psychro you ask? A term to describe COLD.

There goes my constant.

As we grow with aptitude and wisdom, I think I have found the perfect title for the masters of our trade.

A Psychrologist – a seasoned technician that has earned their stripes and knows that: “As soon as you think you know something in this industry, they change it.”

So, there it is, on this June 22, 2020 National HVAC Technician Day that I pass along Thanks to you and all HVAC Techs that make us proud of the industry we have chosen.

My wish on this day is that as we continue our education in this industry and that we all become psychrologists.

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