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airheatman, HVAC Technician
Category: HVAC
Satisfied Customers: 8326
Experience:  Furnace, A/C and heat pump specialist.
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How does this service help out the industry that you've made

Customer Question

How does this service help out the industry that you've made a living at for 40+yrs. and do you believe there are dangers in having untrained persons working on gas equipment?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: HVAC
Expert:  BillyHvac replied 10 months ago.


My name is Billy. Do you have a problem with equipment?

Or you are in the trades and discussing homeowner repairs?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I'm in the trade and just wondering how this trade as well as other will prevail in the "information age". I know that you have "paid your dues" over the years by going to school, learning on the job, long hours of just trying to figure it out, etc. along with many others and now we just give away the livelihood to untrained individuals who are putting themselves and others in danger just to save a buck or two.
Expert:  BillyHvac replied 10 months ago.

I understand somewhat of your point.

But widespread this means no Lowes, Menards, Hardwares.

Where do you draw the line? Is it ok to put in an outlet but not a generator?

Ok to change a faucet but not a toilet?

This is an ethics question that is far reaching. Will it change? Doubtful.

The other question is wouldnt you rather have some of these folks get some guidance instead of winging it?

I understand the point...then it reaches into Union Trades vs non union......Union believes they are better trained because they have more resources and believe nonunion shouldnt touch things.

I can tell you that if you were to pick the most dangerous trade that folks do themselves is electrical.

With all the safetys on todays gas fired equipment the worst case is usually that you will be cold.

Now I am from a family that did not have the resources to call for service. My father did everything. Not because he wanted to but because of necessity.

So while I agree with a portion of your concern...I also believe this service helps safe some situations that would occur without guidance. While it is nice to think you can have everyone call for service....with todays labor rates it is putting service out of reach for many.

And I bet that you are well versed in your trade, but have performed work outside your trade and just figured it out.

Have you done your own electrical, plumbing and vehicle repairs without a proper training course? Of course, we all have. It is just a matter of where you want to position the gray line.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I don't disagree with anything that you said. I guess that I just paid to vent a little. I know for the time being this new technology isn't going away, however eventually it will cause more problems than it solves. There already aren't enough jobs to go around (not necessarily referring to our trade). Most of us can't survive a week on what we grow in the backyard or produce in our garage, so we must earn a living so Walmart can provide. If we allow corporations to have there way and continue to find ways to make more with less through technology, who will we all work for? I'm not really sure, but I'm guessing that the word that we have referred to "trade", probably came from the idea that we all can"t be the good at everything, so we get good at one thing and then "trade" for what we can't produce ourselves. I guess that I should google "how do you grow a garden?"
Expert:  airheatman replied 10 months ago.

I totally agree with what you are saying about the trade. As Billy pointed out there are unfortunately a multitude of folks who simply put just can not afford to call in a technician for minor repairs.We here on the site are mostly still active in the business.If the job is an installation I recommend hiring a licensed and insured company and requiring them to pull a permit.

But many of the questions here are simple questions that just require a bit of advice.For example a person is getting a quote on a system and wants to verify that they are not getting ripped off.Others are asking for help in how to wire a thermostat they purchased at Lowes or Home Depot.Others are intending to call in a tech but live in an area where most hvac companies are known for taking advantage of people and they just want to get an idea of what the issue is so they are not taken advantage of.I will often stress to the customer that we are working with high voltage and that it is necessary to have certain hvac specific tools such as gauges,meters,vacuum pumps,welding rigs, recovery equipment etc and it is much more practical to pay a tech than invest in those tools.

My opinion has always been that an informed and educated customer is a happy customer.It is a fact today with the internet available ,many people are going to do more themselves than they did say 30 years ago. I would much rather have someone guide them than have them jump into a project without any knowledge.

So there indeed two sides to the coin.As a currently licensed hvac contractor I would of course rather a customer call me and allow me to sell him a thermostat for 125 bucks and pay me a service call and an hours labor to replace it for him, but reality is people are going to do these things themselves.It is not unusual for one of my customers to call me and tell me they have purchased Nest online and ask me to guide them in installing.I willingly do so and do not charge them, because I know from experience that when they need a new system,they would not consider calling anyone else.Here I get to make a few dollars, help them get to the bottom of their problem and educate them.

The site is also an excellent source of verification information for customers.For example, it is way to common for a customer to say their technician has told them their unit and parts are obsolete and must be replaced, when a quick parts number lookup and Google search can prove the part is actually readily available and affordable.So in this aspect, like the ease of internet usage it helps people determine if their technician is a crook or not.

I hope this helps answer your question.There will always be the two sides to everything.Like the previous expert mentioned, there are many people who are going to do certain things themselves.Plumbers will change alternators on their cars, customer service reps will add an electrical outlet for a hot tub, auto mechanics will replace their faucet or toilet.So at least as an expert here, we can provide hones an accurate information and often after explaining the importance of having the proper tools and equipment and dangers involved persuade them to hire a pro in the trade.

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Expert:  Phil replied 10 months ago.

Billy and Air heat man pretty much covered it.

There is an additional aspect however, todays labor rates are completely out of reach for many people earning minimum wage or even double that,

...or for a retired person getting a negative return on his or her investments, and 1/2 of 1% at the bank, with real inflation running approx. 10%.. 3 years these people (including myself) have lost 30% or our purchasing power on social security... no way can most of us afford $125/hr labor rates.... yet a contractor must charge that much to pay his expenses and over head (50%+ of that in govt required insurances, state and local taxes)

This tax situation is necessary to support our 100+ military bases over seas and to support the size of government, and govt worker retirements currently running 5x the average social security benefit... etc.

...a reading of history will demonstrate national life spans are in the 250 to 300 year life span, then these expenses of empire, size of govt cause it to implode. The implosion lasts 50 to 100 years... its a repeating cycle. We in the USA are headed into the teeth of it.

That said, there are always a fair sized contingent of people who survive and prosper during such a collapse.... it takes a close group of networked friends, and a very broad skills base, minimal or no debt, and learning to live on less for the majority of those who squeeze by reasonably well.

(and pure genius for investors, or a killer business model for others.. about 30% of the US population made it through the great depression that ended in 1941 unscathed.).

A darker side of this current situation is the USA's progressive loss of the US dollar as the world reserve currency (needed to buy oil from OPEC nations)....

...we are looking into the double barrel of extremely troubling economic times.. and because of our off-shored manufacturing, much fewer jobs to pull us out of it.

My advice... brace yourself.

What have I done? I moved to central America, and live with a wonderful Mayan Family in the jungle you might say... $700 a month allows me to live very well... I could squeeze by on $200 a month if I wanted to live like the average local.

I can hire in a skilled tradesman for $10 to $15 a day... why? Guatemala is not involved in holding and expanded empire, its taxes and regulations are almost nil. We will all get to see how this cookie crumbles over the next few years.

Cross your fingers. Expand your technical skills in concentric circles from the core of your current skills (I still study my range of skills, 2 or 3 hours a day.) Develop multiple streams of income. Avoid over head costs. Develop side income streams... plan on working 10+ hours a day.. you will get by.

Expert:  airheatman replied 10 months ago.

Hopefully these posts shed a bit of light on the situation.If we can be of any further help just let one of us know.I think we all agree with you that we could all benefit from tradesmen sticking together and sticking with our expertise.But we can not even get the supply houses to stop selling to the public.The only thing they will not sell is something containing refrigerant and that is just to protect their own butts.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your intellectual point of view BillyHvac,Customer and Phil. You've provided me much food for thought on the matter. Best wishes to all. Paul
Expert:  airheatman replied 10 months ago.

Thanks for allowing us to discuss this with you.Our goal here is 100 per cent satisfaction.If you are satisfied that we have answered your question and want to rate positively, please select one of the stars below.Otherwise, let me know and I will request a refund of your money.Also if you are interested in joining us as an expert there is a link at bottom of the page where you can apply to become an expert here on the site.It really is a good feeling when you are able to be able to help a family stay warm on a freezing winter night when otherwise they would be cold especially when all they needed was to be informed their thermostat has batteries which their tech never told them about.