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There’s Money in Them There Ducts…Leveraging Opportunities Missed by the Competition

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Many have heard the biblical parable about placing new wine into an old wine skin.  The idea is the old skin will fail to work properly. Too many “HVAC contractors” have traditionally ignored a similar inconvenient reality when they bid on an equipment change out: existing duct systems rarely have been designed and installed properly and may have become damaged over time. So, when they set in a new system, that new system immediately most likely lost its ability to lower operating expense, and more importantly, to properly deliver the airflow where it is needed. Simply stated, the old duct system fails to work properly.

Many mistakenly believe that their customers do not want to hear about improvements: their customers only want a broken down HVAC system replaced and operating fast and cheap.  Further, the unscrupulous believe they make more money by changing out HVAC systems as quickly and cheaply as possible.  Thus, they fail to check basics, like airflow, to make sure the equipment is operating properly before they take off with the check.  Too often, professional contractors get called in to straighten out the mess left behind by the hit-and-run contractors.  Unfortunately, by the time a customer has figured out that they selected the wrong “contractor”, their original problems may have been compounded.  However, these problems provide an opportunity for a professional contractor who has the capability of evaluating the entire HVAC system.

Many professional contractors offer some level of duct diagnostics to all of their customers.  They know that in the average building the ducts are undersized, they leak, and the insulation has started to degrade over time. In worst case scenarios, the ducts are coming apart or have been compromised by rodents or other furry intruders. Often, 50% or more of the existing heating and cooling load is wasted simply in overcoming the heat loss/gain caused by a bad duct system.  So for health, safety, and comfort, as well as home/business owner economic benefit, professional contractors offer duct system upgrading to their customers (especially, when an equipment change out is being considered).  Professional contractors have found that many customers want their home or business to be comfortable and see value in upgrading duct systems for health or economic pay back reasons.  Even low-price-first customers can be swayed when they are provided with staged upgrade plans and options that can be completed over time.

Pride in workmanship, and offering customers the best options, will never go out of style.  Pride in workmanship starts with increasing technician competency through training. Yet most professional contractors are too busy to develop in-house training for their technicians.  Contractors send technicians for training at the local parts house, and have them take the free education provided by their equipment distributor.  However, finding trustworthy basic training materials that blend with the company mission is a never ending task. Many encourage and pay for NATE, ESCO, BPI, RESNET, RSES, or other certifications for their technicians. Obtaining cost effective training that results in CEUs, to maintain existing certifications is also a challenge.

Up until now, trying to find training material on duct diagnostics, field duct design practices, and duct repair that could be easily understood and used by technicians was difficult. To address this need, ACCA has now expanded its training offerings, and is providing targeted technician training on duct design and diagnostics through two new courses.  The first, Duct Design Basics covers the friction chart, use of the ACCA duct slide rule for residential and commercial applications, and the proper filling out of a Manual D Speedsheet.  The second, Technician’s Guide & Workbook for Duct Diagnostics & Repair covers field practices.. Together, the Duct Design Basics and the Duct Diagnostics and Repair courses provide technicians with the background needed to approach duct design, diagnostics, and repairs with confidence. They provide basic training on duct sizing, design methods, and materials. Upon completion of the courses, technicians will have the background knowledge needed to excel when they are provided with the specific tools, and the hands on field repair practices done by professional contractors.  Additionally, the technicians receive CEUs needed to maintain their certifications. Information on QTech is available at:

Don Prather

Posted In: ACCA Now, Technical Tips

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