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Installing a thermostat for your central air conditioning or heat pump system can be a do-it-yourself task if you are handy enough. It can also be pretty simple given that you have the right tools. But before reading this and following through, make sure that you view our disclaimer as we are not going to be held responsible if you damage your equipment or injure yourself. If you still feel like you have enough common sense to follow this guide and install a thermostat yourself and save money, then read on…

Determine What Type of System You Have First

The following thermostat replacement tutorial is covering a split system, single stage compressor, using a 1F86-344 White Rogers digital thermostat. No zones. No heat pump, although if you have a heat pump system following this tutorial should work also, as there are only two extra wires that you would have to hook up which would be ‘B’ (brown) and ‘O’ (orange).

DIY Thermostat Replacement

Hvac Thermostat ReplacementTools Needed for Easy Replacement – Small flat head screwdriver, needle nose pliers, wire strippers, volt meter, drill with Phillips head drill bit, drywall anchors.

Removing the Old Thermostat

First thing you want to do is turn the power off to the air handler or furnace. Then you are going to remove the cover from the old thermostat. Usually this is done by pulling from the top of the thermostat in the middle, towards you and the cover should pop right off. Some thermostats may have a small set screw so don’t go yanking it off the wall if it doesn’t come off with a little force.

With your small flat head screwdriver loosen all of the set screws from the wires and using you needle nose pliers, remove the wires from the set screws. Unmount the screws securing the old thermostat and then you should be able to pull the thermostat off of the wall.


Installing the New Thermostat

Pop the cover off of the new thermostat, note that some T-stats have a small set screw that you will have to loosen to get the cover off, but this should be covered in the installation instructions. The I will usually get a pen and a torpedo level and get an idea of where I am going to mount the thermostat. Once I got it flush against the wall with the wires through the hole I will make two marks with my pen. Pull the thermostat back from the wall and insert your drywall anchors.

Now just put the thermostat flush against the wall pulling the wires through the middle and mount the thermostat with the screws provided. Make sure that you get your colors right when hooking up the 24volt wires. Lots of times old wiring white can look like brown and vice versa.

The R (red) is the 24volt power to the thermostat.

The G (green wire) is for the blower fan.

The W (white wire) is for the heat.

The Y (yellow wire) is for the compressor and outdoor fan motor.

O and B would usually be for the heat pump.

If you have Y2 or W2 terminals are for multi-stage systems.

RC and RH terminals should have a red jumper connecting them. The only time this should be removed is if your cooling and heating have separate transformers, which in most cases they won’t.

The C terminal (usually black or blue) is for the common hookup, which is optional and requires a little more technical know-how to hook up, not really recommend for diyer’s as you can blow up transformers if hooked up wrong, and should be left to someone that has at least a little bit of hvac training as you will have to be able to locate the transformer (which is usually in the air handler in residential units).

If you have an AUX terminal (usually white wire) then this is usually for emergency heat. This would kick in when your heat pump can no longer keep up with the heating load.



:::Bonus Section:::

Common wire hooked up in thermostatHooking up the optional common wire will get power directly from the air handler with digital thermostats. Some advantages to this is that you will not need to be replacing the batteries every year. Another benefit from this is if you have an optional but oh-so-recommend water safety switch, and it happens to trip, it will make the thermostat blank.

A little help diagnosing an air conditioning problem because if you see your thermostat’s blank then you know that you are either missing 24volt power, or you are missing power from the air handler altogether.

Hooking up Common Wire in Digital Hvac Thermostat

First with the power off I connect the optional common wire up to the thermostat. Then I open up the air handler andCommon wire hooked up from thermostat in A/H locate the transformer. On the 24 volt side of the transformer follow the common wire to where it hooks up with the same string of wire that’s going out to you compressor, and this is where I tie the blue wire into. In the picture to the right (click to enlarge) I followed the common wire to the relay control board, and the common wire comes out at the C terminal (brown wire).

Or if you wanted to you can splice the common wire and tie it in where ever you want. Some air handlers have a terminal block similar to the one in your thermostat, if so just hook it up to the ‘C’ terminal. Just make sure that you hook it into the common wire and not the 24volt wire or you WILL short out you transformer.

Keep the discussion going if you have any questions about Hvac thermostat replacement the quickest way to get an answer is to leave a comment below.



Today I won’t be going too much into what subcooling and superheat is and how it works, but more of a ‘tool review‘ for an easy way to check your refrigerant charge. Also notice like many other posts on this site, this one is not intended for the homeowner and only intended to help those that have the proper Hvac training and certification to be able to check refrigerant levels.

SSX34 Fieldpiece Subcooling ReadingMost air conditioning gauges have P/T charts on them, among the most common for residential applications are R-22 and 410-A. When checking your subcooling with gauges you will need to have your air conditioning gauges and hopefully they have the right P/T chart on them. On top of that you are going to need to have a meter and a thermal couple device that is capable of taking the line temperature, and with a little bit of subtraction you get your subcooling and superheat.

The reason I like the SSX34 is that it pretty much takes the calculations for you with out the need to do any subtracting in your head or looking at any P/T charts. For around $200 you can get a tool that is one of the easiest out there to take your subcooling and superheat readings.

There are other test instruments that are out there such as the Fieldpiece Sman3 and the Testo 550 that will actually SSX34 Fieldpiece Calculating Superheat R22calculate your subcooling and superheat at the same time, unlike the SSX34 which you can only test one at a time. But there have been many problems with the Testos and Sman3 in reliability and malfunctions. When they are working right but they are good but I have worked with many Hvac technicians that have had multiple problems with the both of them.

Reasons I choose the SSX34 over the Sman3

Portability – much easier to carry around, less hoses, less headache when you are trying to climb up a ladder to get on the roof. I have a tool suitcase where I keep a couple service wrenches, a meter, megohmeter and some other hand tools, and the SSX34 fit’s perfectly in there. So if I am diagnosing and outside unit I can do so with everything in my tool suitcase.

Reliability and Durability – I have owned my Fieldpiece SSX34 for over 2 years and I use it almost everyday all day checking superheat and subcooling readings. Not sure how long the lifespan is for the other 2 as they have not even been out for 2 years.(?)

Price – It’s a couple hundred dollars cheaper. Sure it can’t do as much as the Testo or the Sman, it doesn’t have a micron gauge and it can be a little tougher to actually charge a system using the SSx34, but for me it’s not that big of a deal. It would be nice to have both in your Hvac Tools arsenal but not all of us get paid that much money to afford all these nifty tools.


Just remember tools are designed to make the Hvac Technicians job easier and more efficient. You can have all the Hvac tools in the world but without the proper Hvac training and knowledge to know what you are looking out, these tools are pretty much useless. I would not recommend the SSX34 for the technician that is just getting out of school.

This would be more the the technician that has been in the field for a couple of years and has the experience and really understands what superheat and subcooling is within the refrigeration cycle.


Residential HVAC Installation

Thinking about installing a new air conditioning and heating system in your home? First things first, this is not a DIY project, leave this for the professionals to do. Improper installation from someone that has not had proper HVAC training and certification can lead to cracked drain pans, failed compressors, poor air flow, not getting the full capacity out of you unit, and much more. Plus in most States a permit is required to install a new heating and air conditioning systems if it’s the split system type.

Picking out a New Split System Air Conditioning


Residential Hvac InstallationDon’t go cheap. Some of my favorite brands are Rheem, Carrier and Lennox. My personal opinion is to keep it simple. The more controls and features you have, the more that can go wrong. It’s a personal choice though, if you want a super-efficient air conditioning system that has small computers built into the Thermostats, then be warned there are more than likely going to be problems. And good luck getting someone to actually fix the problem.

Another tip for the home-owner, don’t purchase a R-22 unit shipped with dry nitrogen. R-22 is going to be history soon, and the prices for the refrigerant aren’t getting any cheaper as costs for r-22 recently doubled. Get a r-410a system and you should be in good shape for the next 10 years or so.

Pre-HVAC Installation Checks


Is the line set efficient for the size of the unit? According to manufacturing specs line sets must be properly sized from the beginning. If a line set is too long, or has too many elbows and 90’s in it, you are just increasing the pressure drop of the refrigerant. Same applies is the line set is undersized from the beginning. For instance if you are putting in a 4 ton unit and have 150 foot of 5/16th for the hot gas/liquid line, you are never going to get that unit to put out 4 tons of cooling, no matter how much you think you have the charge right or airflow right.

Another good reason to switch to 410a system from R-22, is that 410A is much more forgiving for line sets that are too small and too long. What isn’t acceptable pressure drops for a R-22 system may be acceptable for 410a systems. To determine this you will need a pipe fitting book to get the right specifications.

Do I Have to Change Line Sets when Installing a 410a System?


Not necessarily. The only time that this would be necessary, is if you had a line set that ran under ground, and determined that it was leaking with a isolation leak test. Or if the line set was undersized and the specifications fail the acceptable pressure drop. Other than that the line set would have to be blown out with dry nitrogen and properly evacuated when the new system is installed.

If you are replacing your air conditioning system because of a compressor burnout, then if you can you may want to replace the line set as well. Just because a compressor burns out and contaminates the line set, doesn’t mean it can’t be cleaned and reused, it’s just that it’s a little harder to clean even with the help of acid away and a suction line drier. Like I said if this is the case, and if you can, replace the line set in this scenario.


Get a Heat Load Calculation Done on Your Home


The person that is quoting the job to replace the air conditioning system should be doing a heat load calculation to see how big of a unit(s) you are going to need to cool your home. Heat load calculations include many factors such as total square footage of the home, ceiling height, window types, which direction the windows face and how big they are, attic insulation type, along with several other factors.

If your system is undersized you are going to be running the unit more than it needs to be running, and it may not be able to keep up with the heat transfer from the outside heat on a hot day.

If your system is oversized you are going to cool the home down too quickly and may not properly remove the humidity the home.

For residential applications a heat load calculation is usually referenced by Manual J.


Do I Need New Duct Work for My New Air Conditioning System?


This all depends on the shape that the old duct work is in, whether it has multiple leaks, and whether or not you have enough return and supply duct for the unit. For instance a 20” supply duct is good for approximately 1600cfm, given that there the distance and angles are within specs. Residential Duct sizing should be done using Manual D.

Overlooking the duct work can cause you big problems. If your duct work is undersized problems like mold may form at the supply trunks and also inside of the air handler, no matter how many UV lights you have installed in the system! Undersized duct work can also create so much static pressure that it sucks the water off of the evaporator coil into the duct work, causing much more problems such as water leaks and bacterial growth within the air conditioning system.

As you can see there is a lot more that goes into residential HVAC installation than just swapping out the same ton unit with a newer one. When getting a new air conditioning installed do your homework on the contractor and reviews that they have had, and if you are an installer or estimator, you should make sure that you know Manual J and D for residential applications.


Air Conditioner Leaking Water

Wondering why your air conditioner is leaking water? Well there could be a handful reasons why there is water leaking from your air conditioner. For many people they will have to call for service to get the situation fixed, for the Hvac Technician they are going to have to figure out the cause of the water leak, which can sometimes be a tedious task, and expensive for the customer.


Water is Leaking from You Air Conditioner – Why?


First off if water is coming from your air conditioner, it’s going to be from the air handler in almost every case.  So let’s cover some of the reasons that you are may be seeing water coming from the ceiling where you air handler is located.

Clogged Condensation Drain Line

Clogged Condensate Drain LineFor those that live in hot humid climates this is a major problem mostly formed from algae build up in the condensation drain line. Other times critters such as frogs, snakes and lizards may crawl up into the condensation line and prevent the condensation made from the air handler to drain out properly.

This is the most common reason that you may have water leaking from your air conditioner, and usually the easiest to fix. This problem can really become prevented by having a company perform preventative maintenance on your Hvac system.  Preventative maintenance is essential when wanting to keep your condensate drain line clean.

If the condensation drain line is not pitched properly, or if it has a vent that does not extend above the drain pan, or installed after the drain trap, could cause issues with the condensation backing up and not draining properly, thus creating the water leak.


Cracked Drain Pan or Loose Fitting

Drain pans on an air conditioning systems collect the condensation that the evaporator coil makes during the refrigeration cycle, and if leveled and angled properly that condensation flows through the condensate drain line.

Unfortunately sometimes drain pans crack, especially on units located in closets where people want to store stuff, and especially like to crack on Tranes and Carriers….. though besides storing stuff next to the condensation piping and bumping into the piping, the other reasons condensate drain pans crack is from poor installation. Other times units are not leveled properly and then sometimes it’s just can’t be avoided.

Other reasons you may have water leaking from your air handler is because it’s not leveled right, this is especially important with Rheem residential air conditioning units.


Poor Air Flow – Low on Freon

Clogged Air Filter HVACBoth of these problems can result in the a/c coils freezing up, creating a big block of ice and eventually melting so fast that it overflows the drain pan causing a water leak. Lack of air flow can come from dirty evaporator coils, clogged air filter, or even a restriction in the metering device or line set will also cause evaporator coils to freeze up.

If your system is low on Freon, you have a refrigerant leak somewhere in the system, or the system was poorly installed from the beginning. Should any one of these situations occur besides a clogged air filter or dirty evaporator coils, you will need to call for service to get the problem rectified.


Bottom line is if your air conditioning system is installed correctly, with the proper air flow and adequate duct sizing for the size of the home, you shouldn’t run into any of these problems. There are also some situations where undersized duct work can cause water to leak from your air conditioner, as the fan motor may pull condensation off the coils causing water build up in the air handler.


As always I am open for more suggestions and comments for any other reasons that an air conditioner may be leaking water, as I am just a simple technician that isn’t afraid to learn the trade better.


HVAC Leak Detection

Hvac leak detection can be one of the hardest parts of being an Hvac Technician. Some refrigerant leaks will stand out at you, sometimes you can see traces of oil around the compressor, indicating a refrigerant leak, or sometimes you can smell the gas and pin point it from there.  But what about those tiny leaks that only seem to grow over the years.

You could have purchased a new system 2 years ago, and it may have only lost a pound of refrigerant. That refrigerant leak could be getting bigger and bigger as the years go by, but you just keep paying to have refrigerant added to the system. 5 years go by and the refrigerant leak gets bigger, to the point that it will only hang on a couple days and freeze the system up, or damage the compressor, or whatever. Let’s say the freon leak was in the evaporator coil, over 5 years from installation, that coil is out of warranty. Now the customer, or YOU if you are the customer, have to fork over a heck of a lot more money to get it replaced.


HVAC Leak Detection


Infrared Leak Detector SRL2 FieldpieceI’m going to cover some of the methods that I use for refrigerant leak detection. I won’t be covering gas leaks as I don’t deal with that type of HVAC and don’t want to lead anyone in the wrong direction.  These methods should only be performed by those that work in the HVAC field.

Heating and air conditioning is a very technical field and every situation is different, thus this article should be used as information purposes only per our sites disclaimer.

System is Out of Refrigerant, or Close to It

For this situation I wouldn’t even pull out my refrigerant leak detector. I would first look at the most obvious spot, because if a system is completely flat on Freon, then 9 times out of 10 it’s going to be outside at the condensing unit. I would first look around the compressor for any signs of oil. Then fill the system up with about 200lbs of dry nitrogen. You should be able to hear the leak hissing when examining all of the HVAC components.

Refrigerant Leak Detectors

When HVAC leak detection gets difficult, this is when it’s time to pull out your refrigerant leak detector. There are two types that I like to use and they are the heated diode type and the infrared type leak detector. Both work good, but remember if you are an air conditioning technician in training, don’t go cheap when buying a leak detector, you get what you pay for.

Infrared Leak Detectors

I like the Fieldpiece SRL2K7 Infrared Leak Detector. It gets great reviews from some of the professionals over at Hvac-Talk.com – Though this type of refrigerant leak detector is not for everyone, and can be a little tricky to use if you are used to using the heated diode type.  The advantage of this type of technology is that the sensors will last about 10 years. They trigger on refrigerant concentration, so a sweeping motion must be used with this type of leak detector. The only disadvantages I have with infrared leak detectors is that they are more expensive. But then again you get what you pay for.

Heated Diode HVAC Leak Detectors

The most famous one and talked about the most is the H10. Works great on sniffing out R-22 and 134A refrigerant leaks. 410A not so much, especially is they are very, very small leaks. I have heard good things about the D-Tek leak detector though, which has been upgraded to detect 410A accurately. If I were to buy another refrigerant detector it would be the D-Tek just because most the guys I work with use it and love it.

HVAC Dye Test

There are leaks that can occur in evaporator and condensing coils that just will not trigger on some leak detectors. Either that or they just take too long to find. One option that will save you time, and will 100% pinpoint your leak (unless line set is underground) is the dye leak detection test.

Dye kits will consist of dye cartridges, a UV flashlight and glasses. You basically inject the dye into the system while it is running, and let the dye cycle for a couple of days. Return with your UV flashlight and glasses and the dye will light up where the refrigerant leak is present.

One of the most efficient ways to pinpoint small refrigeration leaks. The drawbacks to this is it can be pretty messy. Wear gloves, and make sure you have the proper stuff to clean up the mess you will make, which is usually included in the dye kits.

3 Component Isolation Test with Nitrogen

Last but not least, is the 3 component nitrogen test. In commercial applications this could be more than 3 components but this article is focused on residential Hvac leak detection. This is performed by recovering the remaining refrigerant in the system. Braze the suction line and liquid line together at the air handler, the condensing unit, and then the line set.

You will also need 3, ¼” shraeder valve stems brazed into these connections, as you will be filling them up with nitrogen at about 150 psi (some go higher but I wouldn’t recommend going over 150psi). Use soap bubbles to ensure that you brazes are good, once confirmed, wait a couple days then come back and check all of your gauges to see which one lost pressure.

As I have said this will be a situational decision you will have to make, as a technician or as a customer. Hands on is the best Hvac Training you can get and will have to learn how to make the best decisions on how you are going to apply HVAC leak detection through experience.


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These days  a lot of air conditioning and refrigeration companies are looking for technicians that have a NATE certification. The reason for this is that the tests that they offer, are far from simple, and will really test the technicians aptitude when it comes to HVAC. It is not a test that you can guess your way through and pass, as compared to some other types of certifications that are out there.

Also, many colleges these days that offer Hvac Training, also offer NATE courses that you are able to take. The thing about these tests are, they are not cheap. Depending on where you are located, the tests range around the $130 at the time of writing this, and there are more than one type of Nate Certifications that you are able to acquire.

At this time – some of the Hvac certifications they offer are air conditioning, air distribution, heat pumps, gas furnaces, oil furnaces, hydronics gas, hydronics oil, light commercial refrigeration, commercial refrigeration, ground source heat pump, and senior HVAC efficiency analysis. These are offered in both installation and service certifications.

There is also a CORE section that must be completed in order to get any other type of ‘specialty’ certification. These tests though, are not just for the HVAC technician or installer, they are also for educators, contractors and also manufacturers.

Although NATE certification is not required to get a career in Hvac, it is highly encouraged. If you are in a supervisor stage, you would be expected to have it. Just by getting a Nate specialty certification is not going to mean that you will be able to fix everything pertaining to that specialty. Like with everything, that only comes with hands on experience.

It can though, help you determine and trouble shoot problems, especially when you understand how everything works, from the 24 volts to the refrigeration cycle. A lot of times when you understand how something works, it better helps when you come to trouble shooting.

For instance not just replacing a compressor, but trying to determine why the old compressor failed in the first place, as compressors, rarely fail if they are installed correctly. Some old school technicians will tell you that you don’t need NATE and it is a waste of money, in my opinion though, there is never enough training out there, and this is just another resource to help you in your career of HVAC training.


HVAC-R Training

For the past couple years in the United States jobs have been extremely hard to secure. All of the more reason for our younger generation to pick a career they may be interested in and start early, one of these lucrative careers would be to train to become a refrigeration technician. The best way to learn the trade of Hvac-R, in my opinion would be to go to an accredited school. If you can pull some strings, or have someone that already knows the trade take you under their wing, that would be great also as nothing beats on the job training. You will need to know the fundamentals though.


Why Become a Refrigeration Technician?

Almost every restaurant out there has a need for refrigeration. Whether it be walk-in coolers, reach in’s, salad bars, or even ice machines, they all have a need for technicians to fix their equipment when it fails. Not only that, any store that has food for sale that requires to be cold, also has a need for refrigeration equipment, such as WalMarts, Publix, 7-11, etc.

With that being said, Hvac technicians that are knowledgeable in their field, can pretty much always ensure that there is a well paying job out there that they can turn too. Should a layoff at a Hvac company occur, a highly trained Hvac-R technician could easily have a job the next day.

Just browse through the job classifies section in the newspaper, or even any job search site that is on the internet, you will always see that there is a need for Hvac/R technicians out there.

By having the refrigeration experience on top of regular HVAC training, it is a major plus, as in my opinion, is generally a more diverse field that offers just as much work as residential heating and air conditioning.  Should you have the skillset of both fields of expertise it makes your resume look a lot better, and is usually much better paying than standard Hvac technicians.

Finding the Best HVACR Training

There are many colleges and small organizations that offer Hvac/R training. Look for one that offers training that lets you get your hands on equipment, as that is the best way for someone to learn a new trade that is just getting into the Hvac-R field.

Another thing you should look for is NATE training that offers you a light residential, or commercial refrigeration certificate. Being NATE certified in refrigeration will definitely help you get a job as a refrigeration technician. Though mostly all companies hire refrigeration technicians based on experience, the more certifications you have can only help you.

You are also going to want to take a course that offers you an EPA license. For refrigeration you are going to need the Universal License, which is the Core, along with Type 1 through 3, due to the different types of refrigerant you will be handling when you are out in the field.


Becoming an Hvac Technician is not only a rewarding and challenging career, it is a career that will always guarantee you work no matter where you are located. The hardest part of this career would be to find a company to work for that you can deal with and not worried about getting laid off. Once you have adequate experience and Hvac training in this field, you could even go as far to opening up your own small business, which with alot of hard work and effort could ultimately transform into a prosperous HVAC company.

The duties of an hvac service technician are a little more technical and challenging than other fields of air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration. The main thing is you will have to have great troubleshooting skills, customer service skills, and if you are someone that is getting paid based on commission, you are going to have to know how to sell.

There are a lot of shady hvac technicians that are out there that sell their customers stuff that they don’t need, solely to earn that high pay check. Hopefully this is not the route that you take, though you will make more money you will have to be able to sleep at night knowing that you earned an HONEST days paycheck.

Being that the only state in the US I have done hvac technician work is Florida, I cannot speak for other states in the US. But there are plenty of companies around that will pay you an hourly rate for an honest days work, but most of them pay their Hvac technicians based on commission.

Some of the main jobs that you can expect to do in your service are replacing evap and condenser coils,  TXV valves, checking proper air flow, replacing drain pans, repairing faulty wiring, changing out compressors, along with many other smaller duties.

Hvac technicians should have strong knowledge on the different types of refrigerants used these days, as well as the proper refrigerant recovery techniques that are required by the EPA. Not only that, they should also be EPA certified to even handle refrigerants in the first place, which if you did take apart of an accredited college course EPA certification should be a part of the curriculum.

Expect to spend many of your working hours up in attics, and you are going to run into a bunch of them that have extremely tight accesses, and should you be in a region that has hot weather, expect the attics to be at torching temperatures.

So if you want to become an Hvac technician, expect their to be slow times throughout the year. There may be times that you are working 25 hours a week and their may also be times where you are working 80. Also, be aware that almost every air conditioning and heating company out their has an emergency on-call service, so expect to be taking a week on 24/7 call every now and then. How often the Hvac technician will have to go on call will entirely depend on how big the company is, and of course how many technicians there are in total.

So if you want to become an Hvac technician, you have to be the type of person that is not afraid to get their hands dirty, not afraid of crawling in tight spots and hopping up into attics. Not afraid to put in that 12+ hour day, while also expecting that you will have 3-4 hour days when the season is slow.







So you have heard that people in the hvac field are pretty much set for life, as they possess a skill that will be needed just about anywhere that you go. But to just say that you want some Hvac training, and then want to go seek a job, may not be narrowing down your possibilities of getting a job that you like, as there are many different types of jobs when it comes to HVAC.

Types of Hvac Jobs

Maintenance Technician – Residential

Hvac maintenance technicians is probably one of the best places that you can start out in the Hvac field. This will give you the necessary experience that you will need to move up in the field to more challenging positions. After you get out of Hvac school this would be the type of job that you will want to seek out – because you will be getting plenty of hands on experience and putting the knowledge you gained from Hvac school to work.

The Hvac maintenance technician’s primarily be responsible for checking the operation of the customers heating and air conditioning systems. Some of the checks that may be done are superheat/sub-cool calculations, amp draws on compressors and blower motors, changing filters, ensuring that there are no loose electrical connections, verifying proper air flow, cleaning condensate lines and drain pans, and identifying any potential problems and letting the customer know.

By starting off doing maintenance’s, you will run into problems and slowing get your feet wet in doing repairs and troubleshooting. Residential systems are typically units that are 5 ton or less. The types of refrigerants that you will be working with when doing residential are typically 410A and R-22.


Hvac Service Technician – Residential

The service technician should have great hands on experience and know how to trouble shoot, repair, and install components such as TEV valves, evap coils and pistons, blower motors, compressors, contactors, capacitors, safety switches, and much more. This is where you will start to learn the ins and outs of the Hvac trade, and the top service technicians also work there way up to Commercial jobs and refrigeration.

Hvac service technicians should not only have up to 2 years accredited Hvac Training but also 2 or more years of Hvac apprenticeship training. The pay may not be the best but its around the 16 dollar and hour range and you are getting paid to learn and get taught a trade.


Hvac System Installers – Residential and Commercial

Installers have one of the hardest jobs when it comes to the Hvac and Refrigeration fields. Especially when you get up to the 20 ton commercial  units, but also a great place to start off an Hvac career. Not as much technical and troubleshooting skills are required as compared to the service technician, but will be lifting heavy objects a lot more. System installers can be broken into many categories, some companies have them do everything, while others may have them broken up if there are enough jobs.

First thing that must be done when installing an Hvac or Refrigeration unit is the copper piping must be ran. Sometimes this may require tractors or other types of equipment to run the copper underground, through concrete walls, up walls, or however the system engineer drew up the design.

Then there are the ones that install the duct work throughout the home. In many commercial applications, sheet metal will be used for the duct work.

Then there are the system installers, who braze the copper lines from the evaporator coil to the condensing unit. There will always be challenging jobs in this field, tight spots to install big units, in very hot attics, installing is not an easy job, but very challenging and rewarding, and the pay is also very good.

Refrigeration Technicians

Refrigeration is generally dealing with lower temperature systems such as chillers, walk-in freezers, walk-in coolers, ice machines, wine chillers, or just about anything that needs to reach a low temperature such as near or below freezing. Some of the more common refrigerants that are used in refrigeration are 134A and 404A. This is probably the most stressful of the service type jobs, as when busy restaurants have a freezer go down, they will need it fixed by any means, or they could lose possibly 1,000’s of dollars worth of food, along with many other nightmare scenarios.

System Engineers – Sales

The Hvac system engineer is the one that makes the blue print for the Hvac system. One thing that these guys and gals know is there duct work, along with many other calculations to make sure that the right sized system is put in for the type of home. You simply can’t just say that a 1500 square foot house needs a 3 ton system. Other factors must be taken into effect such as what types of windows are in the home, how high the ceilings are, what type of insulation the home has, whether or not the old duct work will work with a higher SEER hvac system or not, along with many other factors.

When it comes to bigger projects such as commercial buildings, more calculations must be made to determine system sizes. Places such as arenas and other buildings where many people gather, must be calculated to withstand the amount of people that may be occupying the space also, as the average human body generates around 400 Btu’s an hour, depending on height and weight of course.

Out of all the different Hvac jobs mentioned in this article, the system engineer will more than likely make the most money if they are good at what they do and have a lot of business. Some companies will have a Hvac technicians that do service, installs and quote out systems along with duct sizing and heat load calculations. Hopefully this has cleared up any questions that you may have had when it comes to Hvac training and where you want to take your career.


Looking Into HVAC Courses Online

So I have been wanting to brush up on my HVAC technician skills and want to learn more on the technical side, so I have started looking into online HVAC training. Now for someone that has been servicing components that are related to this field, I think that the online  courses would be great.

As I know I would understand a lot of what is being taught when attending hvac courses online, and would be able to apply the teachings almost immediately when I am out in the field. But one thing that you need to realize is just because you complete some hvac courses online from an accredited college, institution, or other educational company, does not guarantee that you are going to be able to get a job as an hvac tech right off the bat, but it could not hurt to put that you have that education on your resume.

So basically this is what I think about hvac courses online, and this is my opinion. If you have no experience out in the field servicing Hvac systems, then for what it is worth I do not think that online hvac training courses would be worth the money. Though I am not saying that it would be a complete waste though anyway.

The bad thing about the online classes though compared to the ones that are held at the actually colleges or institutes is the lack of hands on and other problem solving that you will be able to due. Sure there are some computer simulations on most of the hvac courses online, but none that can compare to actually using the equipment.

One of the pros though to this is that you will be able to work on the assignments at your own pace. Even if you can complete most of the course without the hands on training, many colleges and other accredited HVAC schools will give you a letter of recommendation to employers that are in the field, and many companies will be more than happy to bring you under their wing and train you with the hands on part of HVAC if you have already passed some of the courses, which is telling them that you have a good general understanding on how HVAC systems work and operate.

After HVAC school you will need about 2 years of field experience until you can start making decent money as an HVAC technician. Remember the ones that make the money are the ones that have their own businesses, or are subcontractors. To be able to do this though you will need sufficient HVAC training to be able to decipher the hundreds of troubleshooting situations that will appear.

Another thing that you should be looking for when it comes to online hvac training, is if you get an certification out of completing the classes, such as the EPA  type 1-3 and universal training. There are also hvac courses that are available for automobiles and other types of refrigerant systems that are available online, and having that EPA certification is almost always required when seeking a job as an HVAC technician.