Is anybody else running a 3+ week backlog on system replacements??
I been running like this since mid february.... not that I am complainin, I
was just wondering. Seems like my area has a bunch of "McGyvers" runnin
around with a can of "freezone" and a ticket book. OTOH, of all of the
system replacements that I have been doing, only 3 have been from previous
customers...the rest have been word of mouth referals. Maybe I am doing
Of course, the challenge is to find good hired help, to catch up with
the work load. Since the techs in your area don't seem to be able to
fix the systems, that suggests that there aren't anyone out there to
You're in a bit more advanced stage of the game. I'm still trying to
get started. Have a few happy customers, but trying to get the word
out. Maybe the unsatisfied customers are interfering with my progress,
using their voodoo and chicken bones ceremonies.
It's great you have such a good reputation and your customers say
good things about you to others, it's the best advertising you'll
ever get. I've been doing a lot of repairs and a few replacements.
If my health was better, I'd be doing a lot more work. I tell
folks, I don't have trouble finding work, I have trouble getting
out of bed. Most of the service calls on HVAC systems I've run
this year have been for capacitor replacements. My friends and
me have been installing surge arrestors on systems and installing
anti short cycle timers along with high and low pressure cutouts
on problem systems to protect compressors. Some folks have fuzzy
dogs that like to sleep around the condensing units and clog them
If you want to sell systems, its easy. Every time you go on a service call,
always start with the inside unit... specificilly the evap coil and eo an
electronic leak check.... when you find leaky coils, your next statement to
the homeowner is "We're done before we start"... then explain about the
Montreal Protocol, and how the manufacturers no longer makes anything that
takes the old equipment anymore, and take it from there. Here in south
Mississippi, I have been selling nothing but 15+ SEER heat pump systems, and
hybrid systems(heat pump with 2stage, ECM gas furnace).
The hand-outs I carry to give the home owner are... the article from
Consumer Reports on A/Cs from last July, Print-out of the EPA HCFC Phaseout
page, Equipment life expectancy (Jurrasic Furnace from Service Roundtable),
and "Bigger is Not Better" from service Roundtable.
It doesn't hurt that I do *EVERYTHING*...even system replacements.... on
flat rate. I don't charge "labor", and there are no surprises for the
customer other than their home is truley comfortable now. :-)
It also doesn't hurt to have each job look like it came straight out of the
pages of a textbook. ;-)
Me and my friend, G.B., do a lot of work together, since we both have
trouble getting around, we don't beat the bushes for work but when we
get it we'll do the best job possible. The mother of one of our very
best pals had a 3ton heat pump condensing unit experience a lightning
strike. If it had been a straight AC, I would have replaced all of the
electrical parts and burned out compressor. Since it was a heat pump
with a circuit board, reversing valve, blown combo capacitor and noisy
condenser fan motor my opinion was replacement. We found a 3ton 13 SEER
R22 condensing unit at Johnstone and installed the piston that came with
the new condensing unit into the undamaged air handler evaporator and
fired it up. Everything worked great and we were lucky to find the R22
unit at all. Like you, I go for neatness and abhor sloppy work. One of
the things I always install along with one or both dryers is a sight
glass, it doesn't add that much to the cost and is one of the best
indicators of system health that even our customers can understand. I
show them where it is and explain how it works and the customer can
describe what they see when they call us. It saves a lot of time for
us and lets us know what we may need to bring with us on the call. I
admonish all customers to turn the AC off whenever Pedro or the pimply
faced kid from down the street is cutting the grass anywhere near the
condensing unit. Hey! Watch what you're doing that weed whacker when
you use it around the AC unit! I've had a lot of calls to replace the
thermostat wire and pipe insulation because somebody did too good of a
job cutting down weeds around the condenser. My all time favorite is
the fellow who decides to clean his own condenser coil with a high
pressure stream of water. If I spend a little time explaining how their
HVAC system works, most folks will appreciate it and decide to call me
when it acts up instead of fiddling around with it themselves. A local
service company advertises that "We fix what your husband repaired."
I tie the control wires to to the lineset.... that takes care of the
weedwacker problem. With the motherboard and all of the safeties that are
built into the Rheem Prestige series it will shut itself down if there is a
problem, the control has a real bright LED that flashes, and the control
flashes "Error Code 40" .... they figure out pretty quick that its saying
call for service.
I try to make them complicated enough so the home owners are afraid to touch
Are the new Rheem units still using that evil downward louvered
condenser cover? Every damn one of those units I've ever seen
installed at a home are so hard to clean because I couldn't
easily see the fins on the condenser coil. I do more commercial
than home and since I started have problems with my legs, it's
getting more difficult for me to climb on roofs so I may wind up
servicing more home systems. I was wondering, what problems are
you seeing with the newer Rheem systems? I've been experimenting
with some remote monitoring via Internet because most business
customers have Internet service now and the darn stuff is getting
a lot cheaper these days to implement. Does this new Rheem gear
have any kind of digital interface built into their circuit boards?
Rheem/RUUD still uses the louvered cabinets, but thats not a bad thing....
protects the coils from damage, and makes me a couple of bills every timw I
have to disassemble one to wash it out. The only problems I have seen is the
early RPNL heat pumps have a problem with the LPS....
They don't yet have the internet or telephone monitoring/access, however,
the high end stuff is serial controlled. There are other manufacturers who
do make the remote control stuff, I just haven't messed with any of it.
Some years ago, I built a number of control systems for a new school's
HVAC system and the Carrier units had serial interface connections
hooked to Zoom modems in the office so the county engineers could check
on them. I think it was all RS485 serial communications. This system
at the school employed enthalpy wheel ventilation units and it was very
Thanks for the link, cool stuff (no pun). I'm interested in some of
the inexpensive PIC microcontrollers that I can hook pressure, current
and temperature sensors to. 20 years ago I was using standard alarm
units to monitor standby generators and had them monitored by a security
company monitoring service. The alarm panel would dial up the station
and send in codes for problems then the service would call me with a
report. It's quite cumbersome by today's standards which is why I'm
looking into real time monitoring of not just HVAC gear but other things
in a business like walk in cooler/freezer temps, water leaks, power
quality, etc. Basically anything that can be a concern to management.
Here in the ductboard and flex capitol of the country, we are required
to put the low voltage in conduit (and a separate one from the power) We
usually set a j-box on the wall and run carflex from there to the unit.
Sometimes, when the wires come out with the lineset, and if the wires
are in good shape and long enough to reach the unit with no splices, I
will stuff the carflex into the wall where the lineset comes out about 6
inches and not use a box. If the lneset runs up the outside wall to the
attic , and doesn't have a lineset cover, I use EMT, and then connect to
carflex a few feet from the unit. I have always been surprised at the
number of units with the LV exposed that I've seen in travelling, and on
TV home shows. Larry
Here in Alabamastan, installing the low voltage control wire for the
condensing unit is not required. I've used spiral wrap to tie it to
the line set to make it weed eater resistant but have never been told
by an inspector to put it in conduit unless it's an industrial or
institutional installation where the specs call for conduit.
Well, more like admiring an effective strategy:
Steve is in fact saving calories AND getting good nutrition, AND, uh,
satisfying his customers, so there's quite a bit to be said for his
In this case, Steve gives "accepting a tip" a whole new meaning.
Me, I'd prefer a cold beer at the end of the day, but to each his own.
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