How managers can help contractors avoid common HVAC mistakes
For the average homeowner, an HVAC system is both a necessity and an expensive problem waiting to happen. Many common HVAC problems are the result of mistakes made by the homeowner. Here are tips to give your contractors, for themselves and for your clients, to prevent these common HVAC mistakes.
Ignoring carbon monoxide
For homes with combustion-based furnaces, carbon monoxide is a constant concern. One mistake that many contractors make is only paying attention to the furnace and neglecting to test for carbon monoxide. Don't let your employees make this mistake. A cracked heat exchanger can cause a CO alarm, but it isn't the only potential source for leaking carbon monoxide.
Training for new and existing employees should include checking for depressurization and flue gasses on every carbon monoxide call. False alarms do happen, but that doesn't mean these potential problems should be overlooked.
Trying to be the low bidder
Customers are always looking for the lowest bidder because HVAC repair can get expensive. Don't compromise the quality of the service that you can provide by trying to undercut the competition. There will always be other clients, but if you cut corners on your repair work to try to reduce costs, you'll risk driving your client right into the arms of the competition by doing a poor job.
If you can be the lowest bidder without compromising the quality of your work, by all means, bid away — just make sure you're not cutting corners to try to bring in clients.
Falling for "set it and forget it"
Installing an HVAC system in a home or business shouldn't be a 'set it and forget it' kind of job. Your crew should be prepared to return to the site of a recent installation if necessary to fine-tune the system so that it works optimally for the building that it's installed in.
Even highly rated Energy Star models can always use a little bit of fine-tuning once they've been installed to make sure they're as efficient as possible. This checkup is also an excellent time to fix little problems like excessive noise — which is usually a sign of a poor installation with a new HVAC system — and address any safety concerns.
Neglecting the HVAC air return
In some homes, dust in the air return is a huge problem — not because the filters haven't been changed, but because the ducts themselves are too small to handle the load when they become clogged with loose dust.
This issue might be something that you see in older units — don't neglect the air return when you're installing a new unit. It might appear to be functional, but if the ducts are too small, dust could be obstructing the airflow, causing the new unit to work harder and potentially damaging it with the increased load.
We all know you need different-sized HVAC units depending on the size of the building that needs heat or air conditioning. After years on the job, it's tempting to just take a guess at the size you need for a new installation. While this process might work, it's just as likely that you'll be off by one or more volumes and end up leaving your client with a much higher electric bill as their unit works that much harder to keep the interior of the building temperate.
The above common mistakes don't have to hurt your business or your relationships with your clients. Don't fall victim to these missteps — instead, pass these tips on to your crew so that they can pass them on to your clients as well.