I think it’s time I started to “blog” again. I’ve NEVER been much of a “blogger”, however I feel the need to voice my opinion and provide information to people looking for it.
I’ll start with this, an email I sent to the Today Show & Lou Manfredini;
Lou Manfredini should becareful of his nationally broadcast comments. In regards to his segment today on air filters, filter manufacturers market their filters as lasting ‘upto 3 three months’. According to Lou’s explanation, you put it in and ‘change it 3 months later’. Due to the vast differences in lifestyles, filters may get dirty sooner in some homes over others and would need to be changed sooner. Dirty filters cause furnace and Air Conditioning problems and breakdowns. Filter manufacturers, such as the 3m brand he displayed had to change their marketing of the filter and added disclaimers to the packaging to alleviate liability.
Since it was broadcast on your show, viewers may want to hold blame for any faults incurred due to false information.
Of course I do not expect you to just take my word for it, (if this email even gets read). However, the research is simple and the best place to start would be the filter packaging. Lou simply just made a common mistake.
I share this information with you as a 21yr HVAC industry professional, indoor air quality expert, N.A.T.E. Certified and E.P.A. Certified Technician. I also own a Heating & Cooling Company in Lemont, Il. and Instruct in the off seasons.
The concern I have with this, MILLIONS of people listed and trust the information Lou provides, and shows like the Today show broadcast. I do not want to blow a simple mistake out of proportion, but It would really be discouraging for Lou to be more ‘show’ focused than passing on accurate information. Meaning this, since in the broadcast he used specific brand names, there had to be some endorsements going on. Endorsements help shows by establishing trust and credibility and increasing show longevity. Thereby increasing ratings and profit. Not to mention selling more of the endorsed products. If Lou was more focused on getting those endorsements rather than providing accurate information, that would be problematic.
This was the first time I caught misinformation because it happened to be on a subject I know very well. There were other issues in the broadcast but I will not go into them here. I will simply say this, indoor air quality is not a ‘cookie cutter’ solution. Different people have different needs and concerns. Before generalizing products, you MUST examine the individual needs, concerns and goals. Only then can products be recommended.
An example of such would be suggesting a UV light for mold control. Now while this is an effective solution, one must realize UV emits ozone and if a person is sensitive to ozone it may pose problems OR ozone has been proven to cause respiratory problems, if a person had breathing issues or heart issues you would need to know that before installing a UV light. It may even be simpler, a UV light will control mold growth and let’s say the person does not have any health concerns regarding the UV, after the initial UV installation there is REQUIRED annual maintenance that needs to be done otherwise the UV will not work as rated. With that maintenance is expense, if a person is not prepared to handle that annual expense the UV method becomes ineffective.
So for Lou and the Today show to run a segment on this WITHOUT disclaimers or further suggestion on using these products is a problem for general consumers. I’m sure the product manufacturers would not want to sell products to people with out these recommendations. The reason I’m sure is because they put disclaimers directly on their packaging or in their instruction manuals. In a much smaller print of course.
This is where the need for me to start ‘Blogging’ comes into play. People need a place to go to get unbiased, accurate, professional information. Because I’m not driven by profit you can trust my information will always be in your best concern. If the Karma Gods see fit to let me start generating a profit, I promise here and now to continue on that same principle.
It’s too important not too!
Ambition inspires our dreams. Ambition gives us hope. Ambition is what makes anything possible. But is it enough?
What good is ambition if you don’t act on it. What good is ambition if you quit before reaching your goal? Ambition is the fuel for success, but if you don’t start driving towards your goal, your just wasting your fuel.
Like anything that’s worthwhile a plan should be in place. If you vacation, you plan, where you’re going, what you’re going to do, even how you’re going to get there. Along the way some unplanned things may happen, some good, some bad. But once you reach your goal, you can reflect back and realize, this, right here, right now, would not have been possible if you were not ambitious enough to persist through everything that came your way.
At www.coretechuniversity.com, we’ve founded our site on this very principle.
We encourage you to be ambitious enough to achieve your goal, whatever it may be!
I’ve been doing some thinking about some recent failures in my life and it’s started me asking questions about succeeding. I know that without failures success is not possible. I also realize success does NOT come easy. For those of you who think success isn’t supposed to hurt, consume your time or elevate your stress, well guess again. The road to success will allow you to feel all three of those pains and often times all at the same time. Perhaps that’s why most of us give up. It may be to much for us to bear, in which case we have succumb to our level of success. Which in turn is the cross-roads in which we start questioning our success. I guess a clear place to start on the road to success is to define what success means to you personally. Does it mean riches, fine cars, jewelery, big house, exotic travel? Perhaps it means becoming financially independent, with a modest home, modest car, with a loving family. It might mean starting a successful business from the ground up and watching it grow or putting your education to work and climbing the corporate ladder. It could be a combination of any of those things. The point is to define your success and develop a strategy for accomplishing it. The belief I have is, if you’re not feeling hurt, stressed or consumed you’re not pushing yourself towards your goal. According to a quote I once heard, “An average person will hear they have a 1 in 10 chance of succeeding and never try, where a successful person will understand they need to fail 9 times before finally succeeding.” If that statement is true, the odds of success are already stacked against us. It’s up to us, as individuals to determine whether or not we push on or compromise our goals and become complacent. The trouble with walking the road to success is failing again and again causes us to start making excuses on why we SHOULDN’T do this as opposed to giving reasons why we SHOULD do this. I encourage you my friends, when you reach your own crossroads, give yourself a reason not an excuse and remember, you’re only feeling this way because your working harder than the ‘average you’ would. I found regrouping, reaffirming my goals and restructuring them as well is the fuel to keep moving forward. Henry Ford said “Failure is an opportunity to the same over again with more intelligence.” Just as a weightlifter who struggles to lift 300lbs once and eventually finds himself lifting it 10 times, so to shall we reach a point where our money starts working for us and the effort becomes easier. Then, if we dare, we stretch ourselves AGAIN!
So…. the Federal Government is seeing fit to raise the Energy Tax Credit from $1,500 to $3,000 should the energy upgrade lead to a 20% increase in savings. The one difference is this would not be so much as a “Tax Credit” as it would be an instant rebate from the contractor. That’s good news thus far for all those people holding on to their 30yr. old furnaces and A/C’s. While the details on this upgrade are still sparse, they are saying it’s a time sensitive upgrade and designed to be short term. To read the full article follow this link. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6211C320100302
That seems to be the question most asked when I suggest annual maintenance to people. I don’t always think they want to hear the response of “Yes, Yes it is important.” Primarily because they break eye contact or turn their head as soon as their mouth is done asking the question. I’ve rationalized THAT down to a few reasons. First one being I’m biased. I’m a heating contractor working for a company and last time they checked, companies needed to make money and I want to get paid for my time, so of course my only answer would be “Yes, yes it is important.” Secondly, they haven’t had maintenance in so long and their furnace hasn’t broke until now. Think of all the money they saved in those years by not having maintenance. Thirdly, they do it themselves or a have a relative who’s going to school do it or maybe even a neighbor or worse yet, a relative of a neighbor do it. Some other reasons are, their last furnace lasted 30yrs and NEVER had problem or simply they can’t afford it.
Let me start by stating a few facts. As I progress through my career, the calls begin to all look and sound the same. Broken HSI (Hot Surface Ignitor) here, “did you have it cleaned?”, “No.” Dirty flame sensor there, “did you have it cleaned?”, “No.” Plugged filter, burnt motor, plugged (dirty) coil(s), blown capacitors or burnt contactors, restricted condensate drain. “Cleaned?”, “No.”, “No.”, “No.”, “NO!” Also as i progress, I noticed patterns start to develop, I’d hear things like “Is it normal for a furnace that old (9yrs) to have this much trouble?” or “What causes that?” The answer is simple…… Lack of maintenance. Example: HSI’s can fail with excessive furnace cycle times. Excessive furnace cycle times can be caused by overheating. Over heating can be caused by, a dirty filter, a dirty coil, a dirty fan blade, high gas pressure. There are other things that can cause overheating such as, undersized ductwork, oversized furnace, insufficient return air, high static pressure. Most of these things are structural and cannot be remedied with maintenance, but are worth mentioning. Now while an HSI WILL break at some point regardless of how much maintenance you do, having maintenance will extend the life of such a repair and save you the inconvenience of being with out heat in the middle of Winter.
On the A/C side of things poor cooling can be contributed to a dirty filter, dirty coil(s), dirty fan blade, low freon, high freon, poor compression ratio. A burnt contactor can be caused by excessive cycle times, extreme amp draw. A dirty coil or filter will raise the temps which will raise the pressure which will in turn raise amps (as a side note: Amps is a measure of electrical current, when you raise the amp draw you increase the amount of electricity being used and that LOWERS EFFICIENCY) and since wires, and contactor points are rated for only so many amps, they burn out and THAT’S what RAISES your concern. Here’s the deal with that, the vast majority of those concerns are caused by dirt or a needed adjustment. All stuff that’s done on a routine maintenance visit. The reasoning should not be “Well it’s working.” Rather, “How well is it working?”
In regards to me being biased, manufacturers are requiring routine maintenance and listing under their EXCLUSIONS: “Failure to properly maintain” and some list in BOLD in the warranty header “This warranty is void WITHOUT annual maintenance.” If you have newer equipment, you may want to check your owners manual or contact your installing company for a copy. In the EPA’s Guide to Duct Cleaning, “EPA does not recommend that air ducts be cleaned except on an as-needed basis because of the continuing uncertainty about the benefits of duct cleaning under most circumstances. EPA does, however, recommend that if you have a fuel burning furnace, stove, or fireplace, they be inspected for proper functioning and serviced before each heating season to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. Some research also suggests that cleaning dirty cooling coils, fans and heat exchangers can improve the efficiency of heating and cooling systems. However, little evidence exists to indicate that simply cleaning the duct system will increase your system’s efficiency.” Here’s the link if you want some clarification in that aspect. http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airduct.html#deciding%20to%20have%20your%20air%20ducts%20cleaned. This is not about being biased, it’s about being professional.
I can go on about how dirty equipment causes inefficiency, which in turn raises energy bills or brings about unnecessary repair costs, but i think you can get the idea. As far as having a neighbor, a relative or ANYBODY outside the scope of a professional, potentially including yourself, you will want to question the qualifications of said person. After-all, just having maintenance is not as important as having maintenance done right! I could not charge people for merely walking in with my vacuum cleaner. If i could, just think of the thousands of dollars i could have saved on education, meters and hand tools.
When I first started in this business there was a time when i carried more thermocouples on my truck than HSI’s. I also had more belts and belt driven motors on my truck then direct drive motors. Additionally, I had more dial limits than fixed limits and inducer motors were unheard of. So to tell me a furnace lasted 30yrs without a hitch is well, it’s a bit absurd. Not to say the people are lying. They may have had the one furnace that simply just ran with out any problems. There were however, thousands upon thousands of units out there that were not so fortunate. The specific trouble with dirt related issues is they generally do not prevent the equipment from working, but they do prevent it from working properly.
Cost is not for me to judge. Everyone has their own finances to deal with. I would, however, like to offer this bit of advice for you to consider. Lets say the average cost of a maintenance visit is $120 through a local respected dealer. Lets also say you do that twice a year, once for the A/C and once for the furnace for a total of $240 annually. A filter will need to be changed as well as a humidifier panel, but due to the variations regarding these, I will not include them in the annual cost. I’m a person that likes to break things down, analyze them and then make a decision. So if i decided that maintenance IS important, the next question is, can i afford it? If I’m looking at $240 annually, that’s $20 a month. I now need to decide if that $20 is worth me extending the life of my equipment by maintaining its efficiency, reducing the chance of a breakdown and ensuring its safety. The value needs to lie in the quality of the company, the quality of the service technician and your satisfaction. Which will you be willing to sacrifice for a few dollars?
Now while that last part may have sounded like an infomercial, it was only meant to provide perspective. The facts are the facts and I’m sure if you make routine maintenance an important part of your life and commit to it, it can become as manageable as anything else. It may also save you in the long run. The topic of maintenance, for some reason seems to be confusing to some people and I can see how anybody could be confused about getting maintenance, just not anybody I know!
When you make a mistake, big or small, cherish it like it’s the most precious thing in the world. Because in some ways, it is.
Most of us feel bad when we make mistakes, beat ourselves up about it, feel like failures, get mad at ourselves.
And that’s only natural: most of us have been taught from a young age that mistakes are bad, that we should try to avoid mistakes. We’ve been scolded when we make mistakes — at home, school and work. Maybe not always, but probably enough times to make feeling bad about mistakes an unconscious reaction.
Yet without mistakes, we could not learn or grow.
If you think about it that way, mistakes should be cherished and celebrated for being one of the most amazing things in the world: they make learning possible, they make growth and improvement possible.
By trial and error — trying things, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes — we have figured out how to make electric light, to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, to fly.
Mistakes make walking possible for the smallest toddler, make speech possible, make works of genius possible.
Think about how we learn: we don’t just consume information about something and instantly know it or know how to do it. You don’t just read about painting, or writing, or computer programming, or baking, or playing the piano, and know how to do them right away.
Instead, you get information about something, from reading or from another person or from observing usually … then you construct a model in your mind … then you test it out by trying it in the real world … then you make mistakes … then you revise the model based on the results of your real-world experimentation … and repeat, making mistakes, learning from those mistakes, until you’ve pretty much learned how to do something.
That’s how we learn as babies and toddlers, and how we learn as adults. Trial and error, learning something new from each error.
Mistakes are how we learn to do something new — because if you succeed at something, it’s probably something you already knew how to do. You haven’t really grown much from that success — at most it’s the last step on your journey, not the whole journey. Most of the journey was made up of mistakes, if it’s a good journey.
So if you value learning, if you value growing and improving, then you should value mistakes. They are amazing things that make a world of brilliance possible.
Let’s say you have a product, widget or doo dad and let’s say your product sells for $100, and your cost of goods are $50 per unit, for a gross profit of $50. Let’s say further that your overhead is $5,000 per month. If you sell 100 units you’ll break even, right? Now imagine you cut your price 20%, from $100 to $80 via a coupon of sorts, leaving you with $30 of gross margin. You need to sell 66% more units just to break even. Let’s look at what happens when you raise your prices. Through good product positioning and excellent marketing you raise the price tag 20% to $120, your margins increase to $70, and now your breakeven drops to 71 units, and you make $2000
you sell the same number of them. But that’s a big if.
In general say you have a office, some staff, and a physical product – in other words, fixed overhead – lower prices can kill you – and you won’t even see it coming. Raising your prices can make you money! This only works, of course, when you can also increase your value proposition..
With all the talk recently about energy savings and tax credits, I thought it would be a good idea to provide information on what exactly that is. As technicians it’s easy to tell people, “Buy a High Efficiency furnace, get $1500.” But do we know why or how that exactly works. Is EVERYBODY eligible for the tax credit? Rather than type everything in the blog I’ve include the link to the EPA’s website here. The page will open in a new window so you won’t lose your place here. I urge you guys that don’t know, take the time to read a little about what you’ve already been preaching about to people. As this is the 1st post under this new category, look for more quality news, information and other HVAC related issues. Subscribe via our RSS feed too.
Data entry has to be the most boring, unfulfilling job in the world. I would put a ‘in my opinion’ here, but I’ve always been baffled by that phrase… I’m certainly not stating another persons opinion and before this becomes a rant, since it’s my blog it would most certainly be MY OPINION. Back to the topic at hand. I bring the subject of Data Entry up as i just spent the last 3hrs. of my life entering data into our ON LINE STORE and then into our Calendar. Now i could spend hours upon days rummaging through HTML and PHP code just looking for a script to customize and be alright with that. Or work inside Dreamweavers split view making things happen and be alright with that too. I think it’s because there’s more of a reward as your work unfolds in front of you. As for inputting crummy ole’ data into not one, but TWO separate databases and then creating customized links to join them together to that i say, send me into a dusty crawlspace any day or how about an attic, filled with spray insulation in mid Summer to reach an air-handler that is so far back not only do i have to crawl on my knees on the skinny sides of 2×4′s in the 120 degree swelter, but i need to watch my head from the roofing nails sticking through the sheeting, all while lugging my tools behind me only to get situated and realize my invoice book is slightly out of my reach. So maybe data entry isn’t that bad in retrospect, but it isn’t nice!
BTW, Store’s up and calendar is up through 1st week in Feb. Enjoy
So the Forum is starting to buzz…. That’s good news. I’m excited to watch it grow and hope it becomes what I’m expecting it to. A user posted an interesting link that should be useful to industry professionals as well as homeowners. The link to that post is here http://coretechuniversity.com/Chat/viewtopic.php?f=3&p=8&sid=fcc933bcc530f085f8372d909a51c6c9#p8. Enjoy and thanks to everyone who’s contributing thus far.