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Our Bodies, Our HVAC Systems, Ourselves

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Welcome to the second article in a short stories inspired by the similarities between our bodies and our HVAC systems. Each story compares the conditions and ailments that occur in our homes to their equivalents in our bodies. Feel free to use these metaphors to explain your work to homeowners. Or just read and enjoy, I promise not to let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Not long ago, I gathered with a group of friends to play some cards. I asked them, “What comes to your mind when you think of the analogy between the house and the body?” They responded with several comparisons:

  • Foundation repairs compare to podiatry
  • Structure and framing compare to the skeletal system
  • Plumbing compares to the gastrointestinal system
  • Electrical systems compare to the nervous system
  • Skin compares to exterior siding

The most interesting responses were about the HVAC system. Only the HVAC system has such an elaborate series of mechanical parts, just like the body. Lots of little things in the body can cause big issues, just like the HVAC system.

My friend Larry told us a story, “Lack of grease on a pulley can cause a cold winter night. Let me tell you about the coldest, most expensive night I ever knew. When my furnace gave out the night before Thanksgiving at 8pm.”

The more we discussed the topic something became clear, people only act if their “stuff” is evaluated by an expert or it breaks.

Larry said, “I had a feeling something was wrong with the furnace, but I needed the opinion of someone I trusted before I would have done anything.”

He went on, “It’s the same with your body. Sure, there are DIY blood pressure machines at the pharmacies, but you don’t put yourself on blood pressure medication unless your doctor does the same test.”

Larry made me think, ‘If people only act when they get an “evaluation,” why don’t they get more “evaluations?”’

Maybe they’re scared of knowing there’s a problem. Larry said, “The majority of people think, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ And it’s not broken until an expert tells you it’s broken.”

I thought there was more to the topic though, “Don’t they realize they’re waiting until an unknown “issue” gets so bad they can’t tolerate it?”

Larry replied, “The night before Thanksgiving a cheap part caused an expensive fix. I felt my heart drop when the contractor told me the emergency call could’ve been avoided with a standard checkup!”

But that wasn’t the last time Larry felt his heart drop. He had a mild heart attack while running one day. He told us, “I thought my body was fine, just like I thought my furnace was fine. So I never got either one checked until they broke.”

As the night went on Larry proved himself to be a better storyteller than a card player, but we all agreed the HVAC industry is the only contractor industry that homeowners call/invite into their homes regularly. It’s the only one that homeowners purchase service agreements.

Larry is bad at cards, but he made a good point, “Imagine if electricians could get a service contract to come in and check the GFCI’s, breakers, and “visible” wiring! Nice. How about plumbers that would come in twice a year and check for leaks and replace the aerators in the faucets.”

Ask your customers to think of their HVAC system like their heart. Don’t wait until it’s broke to fix it! Most health insurance plans do the same thing when they offer “Healthy Visits.” Are you offering an “HVAC Health Visit?”

Joe Medosch
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Posted In: Building Performance, Residential Buildings

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