Manasota Air Conditioning Contractors Association

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  • Tuesday, May 03, 2022 2:47 PM | Anonymous

    We are experiencing ever-rising gas prices, inflation rates at 40-year highs, supply shortages, and staffing shortages, among other things. You are likely feeling the pressure of one or many of these issues. What can you do? How can you prepare your company and team?

    Times are tough, and all signs show they are going to get worse before they get better. At one time, GE had a policy to let the bottom 10% of their staff go once a year to cut waste and improve production. We may not have that option in our current economic environment, but I have put a list together of some items you can do to prepare yourself and your company:

    • Pay off current debt. Don’t take on additional debt, and keep as much cash (or cash equivalent, i.e., gold and silver coins) as you can on hand.
    • Strike first and design new contract terms for your bigger projects. If an organization or individual is short on cash, you will be the first one they wait to pay. Get them to agree to better terms and higher late fees if they are late payers. Shorten all terms to 45 days or less.
    • Keep a close eye on invoicing and collections and get rid of problem clients. Fire them. Send them down the road to your competition.
    • Streamline your inventory and offerings. We offer two main brands; do I need to offer eight models of furnace from each brand? No, now we offer four from each brand. Follow suit with all your equipment.
    • Buy some inventory, if possible, on the items you use regularly, and replace inventory as soon as you use it. This will help with the shortages and delays we are experiencing.
    • Drop unprofitable products or services. Stop trying to be all things to all people. Be a specialist.
    • Play offense! During hard times, your competitors will pull back into a shell. Get out there and take advantage of cheaper advertising and less competition — and gain some market share.
    • Outsource what makes sense and cut expenses. When was the last time you went line by line through every expense you had? Chances are, you will be making some changes the moment you do.
    • Target your audience to those who are more insulated from a downturn. Higher economic brackets, certain industries, or geographic regions might be more insulated. Learn to sell high-end and value-based products to these groups.
    • Develop what I call a fighter line. This is the cheapest gas or heat pump system you can possibly do. Only break the glass on it if you are walking out of the house without a signed contract.
    • Watch OT and get rid of low performers now. You only need productive players during a downturn. Look for who is passionate about your business, and who is not.
    • Mine your own database looking for business. Big repairs in last year or two? Offer the repair cost back with new install. Similar incentives may work just as well.
    • Train your leaders on labor management. Show them the true cost of an hour of labor. Have open conversations about these costs to educate your leadership and employees.
    • Your vendors need to be shopped regularly to keep them honest. Don’t let loyalty drain you financially. Some will offer you the best rates regardless, but many will take what they can from you.
    • Sell unused equipment or assets and delay expensive purchases when prices are high, as they are currently.
    • Lead by example and make sure ownership and management are getting on the phones working their pipeline.
    • Introduce or re-introduce your company referral program to your customers and staff and consider raising the incentive. This also works on employee referrals for staffing shortages.
    • Team up with other business and cross sell to each other’s databases if possible. Can my plumber friend hand out HVAC flyers if I hand out plumbing flyers? Sure can. Service industries can lift each other up during such times.
    • Use your lawyers, your accountants, and your bankers. Ask them what you can do to cut costs and streamline your businesses. You may be surprised how much they can help.
    • Liquidate old inventory; the older it gets, the less worth that it has. Liquidate it in slow season every year.

    When times are tough and your business and your team members are feeling the pain, put on a smile. Be that beacon of hope that gives them strength. Don’t wait for things to get better. Lead yourself and lead them through it. Give them a plan. Give them a reason to believe in the long-term stability of your business. Offer exceptional service and focus on what you do best.

    An economic downturn is not bad unless we allow it to be. It is an opportunity to streamline operations, focus on profitability, and grow your business by making smart choices.

    Read full article: https://www.achrnews.com/articles/146432-is-your-hvac-company-ready-for-an-economic-downturn

  • Saturday, April 16, 2022 8:42 AM | Anonymous

    Each year at the FRACCA Educational Conference, the Florida Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Contractors Association (FRACCA) hosts an awards ceremony recognizing individuals and companies within the HVAC industry. This year’s awards ceremony was held on Thursday, March 17, 2022, at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center, and the following awards were given out:


    The 2022 Leadership Award was presented to Paul Stehle, a Manasota Air Conditioning Contractors Association (MACCA) Board Member, in recognition of his confidence, resilience, and grit which has helped to promote and elevate MACCA and FRACCA to the level they are today.

    2022 Chapter Innovation Award was presented to MACCA for their vision and dedication to their recent grant submissions. It was the first time MACCA applied for and was awarded grants in the history of the program. By securing these grants, it will positively impact and help increase the pool of qualified and trained technicians within the HVAC industry.

    2022 Outstanding Business Award was presented to Aqua Plumbing & Air for their commitment to improving the lives of their customers while also supporting the community and giving back. They are an exemplary example of a business showing good corporate and social responsibility.

    Finally, the 2022 Chapter Award was also presented to MACCA their overall excellence in a chapter and in recognition of their innovative approaches to membership, fiscal management, leadership, communications, and continuing education within the industry.

    Read article here: https://www.achrnews.com/articles/146437-industry-awards-presented-at-fracca-conference 

  • Wednesday, April 06, 2022 2:20 PM | Anonymous

    Add fast-rising fuel costs to the list of challenges that HVACR contractors face today.

    gas prices.jpgRetail gasoline prices in the U.S., which have been going up steadily for much of the past year, hit a nationwide average of $4.25 a gallon on March 9, an increase of just over 22% from a month earlier, when the price averaged $3.47 a gallon, according to AAA. Among the 50 states, average prices on March 9 ranged from a low of $3.79 a gallon in Kansas to a high of $5.57 a gallon in California, according to AAA.

    The March 9 average was 53% higher than a year earlier, when the nationwide per-gallon average was $2.77.

    With the Russian invasion of Ukraine and President Joe Biden’s decision to ban oil imports from Russia in response, prices aren’t expected to come down any time soon.

    “We do not see this being resolved in the foreseeable future given the current geopolitical state of the world,” said Chris Czarnecki, government relations manager at Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), in an email. “We hope we are wrong, but we believe this is something we will be seeing and dealing with for some time.”

    Ultimately, Czarnecki said, contractors will be forced to raise prices to cover the added costs. Some already have.

    For contractors already coping with a supply-chain slowdown, a labor shortage, and an inflation rate that’s at a 40-year high, runaway fuel costs are adding to their woes.

    To read the full ACHR NEWS article, click here.

  • Tuesday, March 29, 2022 9:45 AM | Anonymous

    Add Air Diagnostics to Your Service Offerings in Eight Steps

    Unless you know where to start, adding air diagnostics to your HVAC company can seem daunting. Without a plan, you may even get frustrated and quit before you give yourself a chance to succeed. If this sounds familiar, keep reading as we look at eight steps you can take to help add air diagnostics to your service offerings.

    Step 1: Start with Why

    Here’s a hard truth; if you can’t explain why you want to add air diagnostics into your company, your technicians will never buy in. We often know what we want to do and how we want to do it, but we don’t know why. So, I encourage you to ask yourself, “Why do I want to add air diagnostics into my company? What’s my purpose and motivation?”

    At first, most contractors can’t explain why they want to start air diagnostics. If you’re in this position, grab a pencil and piece of paper. Jot down a few sentences that describe why it’s important to you, your company, and your customers. At first, this act will feel clunky, but the ideas will quickly flow.

    Next, consider why air diagnostics are important from a technician’s perspective. Why would they want to do air diagnostics on each call? Why would they care? Just because you say so may work temporarily, but it will rarely produce any lasting change. If your technicians understand why air diagnostics improve their skills, make their lives easier, and increase profits for everyone, they are more likely to accept instead of reject your new idea.

    Step 2: Choose a Chief Airhead

    To drive the change needed to add air diagnostics, you need to identify a leader. Choose someone who loves a challenge and will keep everyone moving forward when times get tough or busy. The leader, or “chief airhead,” is someone who has a vision for the airside. They see what must happen with the readings and how they can create growth for the company.

    This leader might be you, or maybe a senior technician who understands what needs to happen. Choose wisely. Because whoever it is, your chief airhead needs to understand airflow and be the go-to person. If you assign someone apart from yourself this position, make sure you equip and back them up to do the job. Don’t undermine their position by constantly second-guessing them or micromanaging their work. Instead, get out of their way and let their results speak.

    Step 3: Purchase Air Diagnostic Test Instruments and Accessories

    Air diagnostics start with static pressure — one foundation of airflow. It is the amount of resistance a fan must pull and push air against. Before your team can take any measurements, you need to invest in some test instruments and accessories to measure static pressure. They include:

    • Digital manometer
    • Static pressure tips and hoses — neoprene or silicone
    • 3/8-inch test port plugs
    • Small drill/impact gun with a unibit and 3/8-inch drill bit with a sheath/stop
    • Thin screwdriver for cleaning out internal duct liner/insulation.

    You can typically put together a complete kit with all these items for between $200 to $300. It might tempt you to skip some of these items, but don’t. They each have a purpose.

    Air Diagnostics Diagram.

    AIR DIAGNOSTICS: Static pressure testing is a foundational test to start air diagnostics. As you create a system pressure profile, you see which components restrict airflow the most. (Courtesy of David Richardson)

    Step 4: Teach the Fundamental Skills

    As with any new skill, you must practice before becoming a master. Give your technicians time to learn and practice static pressure measurement. It isn’t something where you wave a magic wand and suddenly it happens. The implementation takes time and effort. If it were easy, everyone in our industry would do it.

    You may decide to handle this step in your office, training room, or with on-the-job training like a ride-along. The key is to start and allow each technician to begin.

    Some technicians will develop quickly, while others take more time and coaching. This pace is normal, so be patient and understanding. Don’t believe that every technician will nail these skills on the first attempt. Instead, give them some grace and equip them with the tools to succeed.

    This single step is where you will identify and correct the most common mistakes many technicians make as they measure. Don’t skip this step — it is too important.

    Step 5: Identify Equipment and System Information to Gather

    For best results, follow a checklist approach and develop a written process. It will assure everyone gathers the same information and takes the same readings. If you need help, email me for a quick start guide and reports for ideas.

    It’s best to start with the indoor equipment as the first step. Gather the following necessary data plate information:

    • Model and serial number
    • Maximum ESP (External Static Pressure) rating
    • Input and output capacity (gas-fired furnace)
    • Temperature rise range (gas-fired furnace)
    • Evaporator coil model number (if a separate component)

    After recording the data plate information, perform a visual inspection. Check the cleanliness of the blower wheel, the motor type, and fan speed settings for both heating and cooling operation. Also, pay close attention to the filter size and media type. A lot of airflow issues result from this component.

    Finally, record the outdoor unit model and serial number. The capacity of the outdoor unit is important to determine cooling airflow requirements.

    For extra insurance, have your techs take photos of anything of interest or concern. It’s also a good idea to get a picture of the equipment data plates.

    Step 6: Show Where to Install Test Ports

    After documenting the necessary information from the equipment, it’s time to identify test port locations. Most HVAC installations need a minimum of four 3/8-inch test locations to measure pressure readings.

    Drilling test ports is one of the most stressful parts of air diagnostic testing for newer technicians. The fear of drilling into a coil, heat exchanger, or electrical component is real. If your technicians don’t overcome this fear, your progress will come to a screeching halt. You can help ease their anxiety by having them learn and practice on old scrap duct or replacement equipment. This step gives them confidence and helps them overcome a big obstacle to testing.

    Technicians can also avoid unintentional damage by removing access panels to install ports in them while they’re off the equipment. For any fixed panels that a technician cannot remove, use a 3/8 drill bit, and stop to install the ports. The stop keeps the drill bit from penetrating too far into the equipment or ducts.

    Be sure they clear out any insulation with a control screwdriver or scratch awl to ensure nothing interferes with the pressure reading. To minimize questionable readings, stay away from sharp corners, changes in air direction, and the fan inlet. Turbulence in these areas often leads to questionable numbers.

    Step 7: Measure Static Pressure

    Once a technician has the basic equipment information and test ports installed, it’s time to measure static pressure. Four static pressure readings are essential for proper air diagnostics. They are:

    • External Static Pressure (ESP)
    • Filter pressure drop (Δp)
    • Coil pressure drop (Δp)
    • Duct pressures (supply and return)

    For newer technicians, focus on ESP as the first test to measure and record. It can become overwhelming if you try to have them take all four readings at once. ESP helps indicate a potential problem, but it won’t identify what it is. The additional readings are necessary to discover the restrictions.

    Once your technicians are comfortable measuring ESP, have them gather the other measurements needed to calculate the last three static pressure measurements. As they measure, have them write their readings down on paper so they can see what is happening. It will help them learn and see how pressures change across the airside of the system.

    Step 8: Define the Hand-off

    Once the technician has the readings, you’re now at a fork in the road. You must decide on what to do with this newfound information. This stage will end the technician’s involvement in air diagnostics for some of you. They will gather the readings as part of their call, let the customer know they found potential problems, and have someone else from your company contact them.

    Another path is to have your technicians take additional measurements to gather more information and further the diagnostics. These decisions will depend on the skill of the technician and their ability to discuss findings with the customer. Some techs love to talk with customers and discuss their findings. Others just want to fix problems and leave the talking to others.

    Remember, air is the most misunderstood principle in the HVAC industry. Many contractors talk about it, but only the best will learn to measure, diagnose, and repair air problems. If you decide to accept the challenge, I hope these eight steps have given you some ideas that will help you along the way.

    - David Richardson, The HVACR News
    View article: 



  • Tuesday, January 18, 2022 11:16 AM | Anonymous

    The Ware family introduced Johnstone Supply to Florida by opening their first branch in Jacksonville in April 1981. Since then, the Ware Group has grown to 27 stores and become a leading HVAC/R wholesaler in Florida and South Carolina. Each branch is designed with the Johnstone Advantage in mind, “Saving You Time. Making You Money”.
    Johnstone Supply the Ware Group (CEO) Henry Puente, (President) Mike Bell and (Chairman) Chris Ware

    Johnstone Supply the Ware Group (CEO) Henry Puente, (President) Mike Bell and (Chairman) Chris Ware


    Johnstone Supply, Inc. has over 400 locally owned and operated locations across the United States. National buying power benefits their customers by having access to premiere brands in the HVAC/R industry. Today, the Ware Group is Johnstone Supply’s largest member.

    Inventory depth and breadth are of primary importance to the Ware Group and made possible by strong vendor relationships and distribution channel expertise to get customers what they need, when they need it. Over $65 million in inventory is available with delivery at all branches, and after-hours emergency support.

    The Ware Group has experienced, local management teams with friendly, knowledgeable, and dedicated staff. They are constantly investing in their people so they can be a trusted resource and provide the latest information and unparalleled customer service. Company culture is a primary focus at the Ware Group making it an incredible place to work. “We look closely at the type of individual we hire,” stated CEO Henry Puente. “We want to attract people who are knowledgeable and who share our commitment to the success of our customers. Many of our employees have worked at the contractor level and understand the contractor’s language.”

    Customer training is a key part of the Ware Group value proposition. They offer many virtual training opportunities through Johnstone University and vendor partners. They are also partnered with several trade schools around the State of Florida, including J-Tech in Jacksonville, Orange County Technical College in Orlando and with NATE. They have dedicated Technical Service Advisors who provide troubleshooting assistance to their customers, perform job site visits, training and more.

    The Ware Group is committed to the JOHNSTONE ADVANTAGE – Saving You Time, Making you Money with every order, every day. Their mission is to be the leading independent regional wholesaler in the Southeast, by providing excellent marketing and distribution services to the licensed HVACR contractor and HVACR supplier who are committed to the HVACR supply chain.

    The Ware Group’s Technology Advantage ensures speed and accuracy with state-of-the-art technology to help you conduct business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Online ordering, product information, real-time pricing and availability, barcode scanning, account information and much more are all easily accessed through their mobile app (OE Touch) or JohnstoneWareGroup.com.

    B2B integration connects your ordering process to Johnstone’s system for an easy-to-use ordering method, eliminating redundancy and errors.

    Stop by any Ware Group location to experience great customer service…. Saving You Time, Making you Money!

    https://hvacinsider.com/the-ware-group-celebrates-40-years-with-johnstone-supply/

  • Tuesday, November 02, 2021 11:03 AM | Anonymous

    Stakeholders express concern about loopholes, allocations, and transfer taxes

    Hudson-Wharehouse.jpg


    RESTRICTED SUPPLY: With the restriction on virgin supply so severe in 2024, it is likely reclamation will play an important role on the supply side. (Courtesy of Hudson Technologies)


    Last December, Congress passed the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, which gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to phase down HFCs to 15% of their baseline levels by 2036. Ever since then, the HVACR industry has been waiting anxiously to find out how EPA planned to implement the legislation.

    Right on schedule, on September 23, EPA delivered its final rule, which established the HFC production and consumption baselines from which reductions must be made, codified the phasedown schedule (see Figure 1), and established an initial methodology for issuing allowances for 2022 and 2023. The rule also outlined how it planned to ensure compliance with the phasedown limits.

    HFC production and consumption phasedown schedule.

    Follow-up guidance came on October 1, when EPA released the 2022 allowances for companies that produced and/or imported HFCs in the U.S (see Figures 2 and 3). Then additional information came on October 8, when EPA announced that it had granted multiple petitions that sought to further restrict the use of HFCs in sectors where they are used, such as in air conditioning and refrigeration equipment.

    Distribution of HFC Consumption Allowances for 2022.

    Production allowances allocated to each company for 2022.

    That’s a lot of information to digest over a short period of time, but stakeholders in the HVACR industry have a few opinions about how EPA plans to handle the impending HFC phasedown.

    Areas of Concern

    While the final rule contained several areas of concern to some in the HVACR industry, most were pleased that EPA released the information on time. Helen Walter-Terrinoni, vice president of regulatory affairs at the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), noted that AHRI and its members appreciated the significant effort by EPA to finalize both the allocation rule and to publish the allocations for 2022 in keeping with the very aggressive schedule mandated by the AIM Act.

    “It is a detailed rulemaking that required significant data collection and analysis to properly complete,” she said. “The final rule was very similar to the proposed rule, so there were no surprises.”

    Joe Martinko, senior business director - Americas, thermal and specialized solutions at Chemours, added that Chemours also applauds EPA for working very quickly and diligently to meet the statutory deadline and complete the allocation rule. “The final rule outlines a large portion of the phasedown that's needed to get to lower GWP products and for the industry to meet that need with next-generation products. We're very excited about that.”

    That said, Chemours was concerned with one aspect of the final rule, which has to do with the transfer tax that is levied on companies that trade allowances with one other.

    “From an allocation standpoint, there's typically been a tax of 0.1% to 1%, when those trades are carried out,” said Martinko. “We were surprised that the EPA issued a 5% tax on that, as we expected it to be in line with historical precedent.”

    Arkema was also surprised by the 5% transfer tax, which is significantly higher than under the ODS phaseout. Glenn Haun, sales director - Americas, Fluorochemicals at Arkema, noted that since HFCs are far more numerous, the need for allowance trading between producers will be even more important and that the much higher fees will be detrimental to achieving market efficiencies. In addition, Arkema would have liked EPA to account for imported products containing HFCs.

    “The rule does not address imported products containing HFCs, which could represent as much as 10% of the baseline consumption,” he said. “This strongly favors imports of both HFCs and equipment containing HFCs over domestic production, which we believe goes against one of the main objectives of the AIM Act: helping support and advance U.S. manufacturing and technological leadership. It was surprising the agency didn’t at least offer to study the problem going forward to ensure it doesn’t become an avenue for illegal imports.”

    Honeywell also remains concerned about the potential loophole for imported products and equipment containing HFCs, said Ken West, vice president and general manager at Honeywell Fluorine Products.

    “Under the rule, these products are not subject to the requirement to hold allowances,” he said. “But we are encouraged by EPA’s signaling in the final rule that the agency will consider addressing HFCs in imported products and equipment in a future action. The final rule also takes important steps to ensure that the HFC phasedown is effectively enforced.”

    Another area of concern is that the rule requires a significant amount of new reporting requirements, which may be difficult for some to comply with, said Kate Houghton, vice president of sales and marketing at Hudson Technologies. “Additional data collection and systems to support collection and reporting will likely be necessary and will no doubt be a learning curve for many.”

    However, the reporting provisions are intended to help prevent illegal imports, said Houghton, who expects to see EPA work with industry members to strengthen what currently exists. More actions may be necessary to prevent the kind of illegal importing seen in Europe after the F-Gas regulations were enacted, she added.

    As a refrigerant reclaimer, we are disappointed that the EPA chose to provide all of the financial power of the allocations to the producers and importers.
    -Carl Grolle
    President

    Allocations

    While the HVACR industry was eagerly awaiting EPA’s final rule, finding out how HFCs would be allocated next year was of equal concern. In its methodology, EPA used the average of the three highest years of production or consumption of HFCs from 2011 to 2019 in order to calculate the baseline from which future reductions will be made. For 2022, most of the allocations went to chemical manufacturers.

    Bobby M. And Sheena M. review a reclamation job sheet at Golden Refrigerant.

    JOB REVIEW: Bobby M. And Sheena M. review a reclamation job sheet at Golden Refrigerant. (Courtesy of Golden Refrigerant)

    “As a refrigerant reclaimer, we are disappointed that the EPA chose to provide all of the financial power of the allocations to the producers and importers,” said Carl Grolle, president of Golden Refrigerant. “I would have like to have seen the allowances more broadly spread among industry groups. The allowances provide significant market control of all refrigerants going forward to a select group of companies. Let’s hope the allowance holders provide fair and reasonable access to the refrigerants to all parties and don’t use the allowance rights to push their interests in the marketplace.”

    Daikin would have liked to see allowances be partially provided to OEMs in addition to the chemical producers, said Dave Calabrese, senior vice president of government affairs at Daikin U.S. Corp. “We believe an OEM allocation would reduce the chance of HFC market dislocation and potentially lower consumer costs. In addition, an OEM allocation would encourage a more orderly HFC phasedown by incentivizing OEMs to transition to lower climate impact refrigerants and to reduce charge volume.”

    Another concern is that HFC allowances are only announced several months in advance for the following year, which does not give industry much time to react or plan. That is because under the AIM Act, EPA is directed to calculate and determine the quantity of production and consumption allowances for the following year by October 1. Chemours, for one, would have liked to see a longer timeline.

    “Having visibility many years out helps us make longer-term investment decisions, especially if investments are going to include new assets, such as building a new plant,” said Martinko. “As a supplier, we would have liked to see the allocations go out a number of years — beyond 2024. We did provide that view upfront to the EPA.”

    Industry Effects

    As a result of EPA’s final rule, the HVACR industry will definitely see changes in the coming years. Next year the industry must cut production of HFCs by 10%, and then a steep cut comes in 2024, when production is reduced to 60% of the baseline established by EPA.

    “With the restriction on virgin supply so severe in 2024, it is likely reclamation will play an important role on the supply side,” said Houghton. “It is the contractors who do the hard work of recovery, and it will be incumbent on them to seek to recover the greatest amount possibly to lessen the potential supply gap in 2024 and beyond. As reclaim continues to increase in importance to narrow the gap on the supply side, contractors will also benefit from the dollars paid by reclaimers’ for the HFCs they recover, which we believe will help to grow reclamation significantly.”

    Still, the rule adds significant cost to all levels of the industry outside of the allowance holders, said Grolle, as it is the most significant change to the rules since they were first created in response to ozone depletion.

    “Reclaimers are going to have to find ways to stay profitable with the higher costs and lower yields from reclaiming blended refrigerants,” he said. “Contractors and end users will soon realize that refrigerants are going to be a scarce commodity going forward. They will need to adapt their operations to insulate themselves from the price fluctuations, increases, and product shortages. Distributors and contractors will also see significant burdens due to the ban on disposable cylinders.”

    In the final rule, EPA has called for a ban on disposable cylinders starting in 2025. That decision came about after looking at the European Union’s (EU’s) HFC phasedown, which resulted in a thriving black market for illegally imported refrigerants. The EU’s phasedown required that HFCs be sold in refillable containers, and as a result, disposable cylinders are a common feature of illegally imported HFCs there. EPA wanted to avoid that scenario in the U.S., hence the ban on disposable cylinders.

    Chemours agrees that EPA’s decision to ban disposable containers starting in 2025 will be an issue for the HVACR industry. “We believe that this approach does overly burden the industry,” said Martinko. “We would’ve liked the approach of ensuring that bulk materials are certified as they come into the country, rather than just banning all disposable cylinders.”

    The HVACR industry will likely see further effects of EPA’s final rule in the near future, particularly from the petitions that were granted on October 8. In general, these petitions request that EPA follow California’s phasedown regulations, which require a 750 GWP limit for air conditioning and a 150-GWP limit for most commercial refrigeration equipment.

    “Granting the petition does not finalize regulations requiring the transitions,” said Walter-Terrinoni. “The timing and GWP limits will be determined through the rulemaking process within the next two years. Although, the rulemaking process could be shorter, as EPA has considerable data supporting the petitions, such as SNAP Rules 20 and 21. Several of the petitions, including AHRI’s joint petitions, asked EPA to move forward with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, rather than using the negotiated rulemaking process.”

    Even though more information about the HFC phasedown will be coming from EPA, many in the HVACR industry are happy that the phasedown is finally happening at the federal – rather than a state – level.

    “We continue to support a coordinated effort and believe this is a key step in the transition from HFCs to safer, low-GWP solutions such as HFOs, which significantly reduce the climate impact of refrigerants, aerosols, solvents, and blowing agents, while spurring U.S. job creation, manufacturing, and industry leadership,” said West.

    November 2, 2021
    Joanna R. Turpin

  • Monday, October 18, 2021 1:40 PM | Anonymous

    The onset of COVID-19 (COVID) has many homeowners more concerned about their indoor air quality (IAQ) these days. But what many people forget is that the IAQ arrow was trending up long before the pandemic started. If anything, the pandemic has just sped up that growth, primarily because people are spending a lot more time inside of their homes.

    Trane-Residential-Product.jpg


    This provides a great opportunity for HVAC contractors to better serve their customers while also improving their bottom lines. If contractors are not already “all in” on IAQ, they should be. Here are 5 reasons HVAC contractors should be offering IAQ solutions to their customers.

    (Photo, Courtesy of Scott Clinton on behalf of Trane Residential)

    1. Homeowners want these products, but only HVAC contractors can provide whole-home (versus single-room) solutions

    There is a need in the market that only the HVAC contractor can handle. Sales of single-room air purifiers have risen sharply at places like Amazon since the pandemic started. However, those products address a single room rather than an entire home.

    For years, HVAC contractors have preached selling not just an air conditioner or furnace but rather a whole-home solution. No reason to stop that now. Homeowners are ready to have that conversation. HVAC contractors are the experts in this area. They are focused on multiple items such as temperature, humidity, and — yes — air quality. They can customize a solution based on the issues the homeowner is facing instead of offering just a spot treatment solution.

    If there is an issue in one area of the home, there is a good chance that the air — and problem — is circulating throughout the entire home system and will not be treated properly with a single-room solution.

    Solutions like the Trane CleanEffects® whole home air filtration system can be offered. Products like this eliminate virus particles and other unwanted airborne contaminants in every room of the home with a single unit.

    Trane CleanEffects Air Cleaner.

    IAQ is here to stay: A Trane CleanEffects whole-home air cleaner offers homeowners a filtration solution for the entire home. (Courtesy of Trane Residential)


    2. Peace of mind

    It certainly looks like COVID-19 pandemic is here to stay, and it is up to individuals to find a way to minimize their personal concern in this “new normal.” People want to trust that the air they are breathing in their homes is safe.

    Research indicates that people spend approximately 90% of their time indoors. Today’s homes are better insulated, tightly sealed, and use less energy; however, this can trap indoor pollutants, making indoor air up to five times more contaminated than outdoor air. That’s why it’s imperative to educate homeowners on why they should invest in quality air products, like a proper air filtration system, that are designed to help make the home and the air they breathe the best possible.

    3. It is more than COVID

    October is indoor air quality awareness month, and it should be a time to remember IAQ is not simply protecting people from an airborne virus. Many people suffer from allergies and asthma, which makes particulate matter a big issue in many homes.

    A recent study indicated that over 70% of homes have particulate matter issues at the PM 2.5 level or lower. And as many HVAC contractors are aware, that size particulate causes exasperation of asthma and allergy triggers.

    There's more in your indoor air than people can easily see — dust, smoke, pet dander, lint, pollen, viruses, and other particles. Even though these particles can’t be seen, they could be negatively affecting the health of occupants. All of these particles in the air are potential triggers for asthma and allergy attacks. Dust, smoke and bacteria are often 0.3 microns or less. At that size, allergens can get deep into the lungs because they aren’t filtered well by the nose and throat.

    Solving these IAQ issues is directly leading to improving the health of those individuals. Asthma affects more than 24 million people in the U.S., including more than 6 million children. And allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S., with an annual cost of $18 billion.

    Adding an air cleaning system can help remove airborne particles and allergens too small for your nose and mouth to filter naturally.

    4. To make more money

    Of course, HVAC contractors are not suggesting IAQ products that are not needed just to raise their average ticket price, but providing the correct solutions will certainly raise their average ticket price.

    Many of these products are very simple to install, so from a labor time perspective, it is actually quite minimal. IAQ can be profitability with a purpose. Contractors are offering products that truly do make a difference, so they should be much more comfortable offering the upsell at the kitchen table.

    5. Earn the trust of a homeowner and turn them into a lifelong consumer

    There have been a lot of claims made in the IAQ space. And many of those do not hold up in actual applications. A lot of companies that were not in the IAQ space before the pandemic see it as a bit of a gold rush and are trying to cash in on the current pandemic.

    It is important for contractors to look at the data and research that all manufacturers are publishing and interpret the results – and to identify products that have been rigorously tested and are awarded trusted certification, such as the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s asthma and allergy friendly® Certification Program that can allow contractors to make more informed suggestions to their customers without fear of promoting false or exaggerated claims.

    Contractors should be reading to make sure testing protocols have been followed and the environment/conditions are similar to where these systems will be installed. If a manufacturer cannot provide this information to the contractor, it does bring into the question the results. Look for manufacturer white papers that describe the third-party results so you can be assured the homeowner will be satisfied.

    Another way to earn the trust of a homeowner is by taking an indoor air quality sample through a monitoring device, like the Awair Element IAQ Monitor. Contractors should take a baseline reading so they truly understand what is happening in the space. Then, once a contractor implements a mitigating action, take another reading to ensure what you intended to resolve actually happened. Data does not lie, and a monitor can do that for you.

    If HVAC contractors can solve these problems for homeowners (and prove that they did), they have a great chance of earning a lifelong customer.

    For more information on IAQ products, visit https://residential.trane.com/for-dealers/en/home.html.

    Jennie Bergman.By Jennie Bergman, Senior Product Manager, Indoor Environmental Quality at Trane Residential.
    -October 11, 2021

  • Monday, October 18, 2021 1:24 PM | Anonymous

    Some new tools will be needed with A2Ls, but overall best practices remain the same


    SAME BUT DIFFERENT: Refrigerant cylinders containing A2Ls will be the same as those containing A1s, with a few differences. (Courtesy of ESCO Group)

    With the impending phasedown of HFCs, including the widely used R-410A, air conditioning equipment containing lower-GWP refrigerants will be coming to market over the next few years. Unlike previous refrigerant transitions, which moved from one nonflammable (A1) refrigerant to another, this transition will likely be to A2L refrigerants, which are mildly flammable. This has caused some concern among HVAC contractors and technicians who wonder whether it is safe to work with these types of refrigerants.

    Experts at a recent webinar hosted by AHRI (video below) sought to put those concerns to rest by discussing the differences between A1s and A2Ls, as well as how best practices will remain essentially unchanged for the new refrigerants.

    AHRI Refrigerant Webinar Series -WATCH on YouTube

    Safety First

    It is important to note that all A2L refrigerants are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, said Mary Koban, senior director regulatory affairs at AHRI. Under this process, EPA considers the safety, toxicity, flammability, and other environmental factors before approving any new refrigerant, and all flammable refrigerants are subject to additional safety requirements.

    “EPA has allowed flammable refrigerants in residential and light air conditioning since May 2021,” she said. “They’ve also been allowed in smaller equipment, like window units and PTACs, since 2015 and chillers since 2012.”

    Some of the safety issues associated with A1 refrigerants will be the same as with A2Ls, noted Koban. Notably, hydrogen fluoride is a gas formed upon combustion of any fluorinated refrigerant, and oxygen deprivation is possible when a refrigerant leaks out into a tight and enclosed space. Frostbite is also possible due to quickly releasing liquid refrigerant, so personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used by technicians and firefighters.

    “As for differences, lower (A2L) and higher (A3) flammability refrigerants will need to be used in compliance with new regulations,” said Koban. “In addition, A2L refrigerants are characterized as having a low flame speed or burning velocity less than 10 centimeters per second and a low heat of combustion. A3 refrigerants, such as R-290 (propane), have higher flame speeds and a higher heat of combustion.

    The important takeaway is that A2L refrigerants are difficult to ignite, have a slow or lower flame speed, and a low heat of combustion. Still, stakeholders need to wear PPE and be properly trained in the mitigation of risks due to A2L refrigerants.

    Best Practices

    When comparing installation and service practices, according to the appropriate standard (UL 60335-2-40), there are only three requirements for an A2L installation that are not required for A1 systems, said Jason Obrzut.

    “These requirements are to purge the circuit with an inert gas, evacuate, and leak test the unit,” he said. “However, based on industry best practices, most would agree that these requirements were things that should have been done with an A1 installation as well. Technicians and contractors employing industry-accepted best practices will notice little or no change at all in their service practices or their installation practices.”

    As for the tools required to service A2L equipment, some will remain the same, but some, including recovery machines, vacuum pumps, and leak detectors, will need to be compatible with A2L refrigerants.

    “For things like recovery machines or vacuum pumps, it would be best to verify that they’re A2L capable moving forward,” said Obrzut. “If you have an arsenal of recovery machines, as you replace them over the next few years, it would be beneficial to ensure that they’re A2L rated, so you’re set up for the transition. AHRI offers a list of A2L-compatible tools at www.ahrinet.org/saferefrigerant.”

    Technicians will be able to identify equipment that uses A2L refrigerants by way of labels that OEMs will be required to affix to the units. These labels will include a flame symbol, which will alert technicians to the fact that additional precautions will need to be taken when servicing that equipment, said Obrzut.

    Refrigerant Cylinders

    Disposable refrigerant cylinders containing A2Ls will be the same as those containing A1s — DOT 39 — but there will be some differences, said Jeff Warther, HVACR business development and training manager at Chemours.

    “Disposable refrigerant cylinders will be the same rated pressure as the current R-410A cylinders, but the A2L cylinders will have a pressure relief valve. If the cylinder pressure is too high, this relief valve will only release enough refrigerant to reduce the pressure in that cylinder, and then it’ll reset,” he said. “This compares to R-410A cylinders, which have a rupture disc, which means when it is overpressurized, the rupture disc pops and releases all the refrigerant.”

    Another difference between R-410A and A2L disposable refrigerant cylinders is that while both will be gray in color (as are all refrigerant cylinders, per AHRI Guideline N), the A2L cylinders will either have a red band or the entire top of the cylinder will be red. In addition, A1 refrigerant cylinders have a right-handed thread, and A2L cylinders will more than likely have a left-handed thread on them, said Warther.

    All of the safe handling practices that apply to A1 refrigerant cylinders also apply to A2L cylinders with the main difference occurring at the end of life, said Warther. With an A1 cylinder, technicians remove or puncture the rupture disc, and on an A2L cylinder, a tool must be used to puncture the side of the cylinder itself.

    As for recovery cylinders, both A2L and A1 cylinders will be gray in color with a yellow top; however, the A2L cylinders will likely have a red band or stripe as well. When recovering refrigerant from an A2L system, the best practices are the same as with A1 systems:

    • Maintain a vacuum on empty cylinders to help ensure refrigerant purity when filled with refrigerant;
    • Properly label recovery cylinders by refrigerant type contained within the cylinder;
    • Never tamper with relief valves;
    • Ensure that scales are accurate (all refrigerants have different liquid densities and fill weights will vary by product); and
    • Return full recovery cylinders to the proper source for reclamation.

    The best practices for handling A2L returnable cylinders include:

    • Verifying the refrigerant label matches any color code or equipment labels;
    • Verifying proper hookup of charging hoses. Do not charge to the discharge side of the compressor;
    • Removing liquid phase refrigerant from the cylinder. Once removed, refrigerant can be flashed to vapor for charging;
    • Opening access valves slowly;
    • Protecting cylinders from moisture and rusting during storage; and
    • Keeping cylinders away from incompatible or incendiary materials in storage.

    As Warther noted, “Hopefully everyone sees there’s a theme to the transition from refrigerants like R-410A to new A2L or lower-GWP refrigerants like R-454B or R-32. Basically, getting back to basics and incorporating just a few new procedures and tools will help make the transition much easier.”

    October 11, 2021 - Joanna R. Turpin

  • Wednesday, October 13, 2021 12:16 PM | Anonymous

    The HVAC industry may be on the verge of change. What homeowners and property managers expect from their buildings is shifting, and HVAC contractors will have to adapt to serve these new markets. One of the most important changes to stay up to date on is the growing smart home movement.

    Smart homes, which feature extensive Internet of Things (IoT) technology throughout, are becoming increasingly popular. Experts predict there will be 478.2 million smart homes worldwide by 2025. These high-tech buildings improve energy efficiency and make everyday tasks easier, and they could be a profitable opportunity for HVAC contractors.

    Why Should HVAC Contractors Care About Smart Homes?

    HVAC professionals can’t afford to pass on the potential of this movement. End-users spent $151 billion on IoT solutions in 2018, and that figure will keep going up as more homes feature these devices. This trend could be highly lucrative as it gains momentum, and smart HVAC could lead its growth.

    Home HVAC systems are the ideal use case for IoT technologies. Heating and cooling are typically among a house’s largest energy consumers, and IoT connectivity can ensure these systems use only as much power as necessary. As consumers start to care more about the environment, more will want to capitalize on that advantage.

    Similarly, HVAC systems are often some of a homeowner’s largest expenses. The promise of reducing related costs through improved efficiency and remote operation is an enticing one. If contractors delivered these benefits through smart HVAC devices, they could stand to gain a considerable amount.

    If nothing else, smart homes will likely become the standard in the future. As the industry shifts that way, contractors already familiar with these technologies will see early success. With all that in mind, here’s how HVAC contractors can get involved with this trend.

    Taking Note of Consumer Trends

    The first step in getting involved in this area is learning what homeowners want. Contractors will have more success selling clients on upgrading to smart HVAC systems if they understand how they can meet their needs. Knowing why people may desire IoT HVAC devices will make it clear how to apply them more effectively.

    The most common reasons for wanting a smart heating or cooling system are energy efficiency and convenience. IoT devices can improve power consumption by monitoring energy use and temperature to use as little electricity as necessary, appealing to eco-conscious consumers. Features like integration with other devices and smartphone controls will entice tech enthusiasts.

    HVAC contractors can check homeowner blogs and discussion boards to keep an eye on developing preferences and trends. When they know what consumers want, they can invest in IoT devices and expertise to achieve better results.

    Growing Familiar With Smart HVAC Technologies

    Contractors should familiarize themselves with what intelligent HVAC technologies are available in today’s market. Professionals know what problems homeowners may face and can look for products that solve them. They can serve smart home customers better when they understand what’s available and how it works.

    Clients will have various needs, requiring different devices to meet them. For example, homeowners with ductless air conditioning will need ductless smart thermostats to work with their system. A traditional IoT thermostat may not be sufficiently compatible, limiting its usefulness.

    Contractors should also understand different technologies’ wireless compatibility. Customers likely want systems that can work with their other IoT devices, narrowing down their options. Understanding how smart HVAC systems mesh with other technologies like Alexa, Google Assistant or IFTTT will help connect clients with the best solution.

    Partnering With IoT Companies

    As contractors look to understand the smart HVAC world more, they should look for partnership opportunities with IoT companies. The manufacturers behind these devices may have programs to become certified installers or authorized sellers. Pursuing these connections will help HVAC professionals learn more about what these systems have to offer.

    Partnerships will also give contractors a level of expertise in managing these systems their competitors may not have. More homeowners may start looking for these certifications as the IoT becomes more popular. Pursuing them now can ensure HVAC professionals are equipped to serve tomorrow’s markets.

    Working on New Smart Home Construction Projects

    Contractors can look for opportunities to work on new smart home construction projects. Many consumers are gradually adding IoT systems to their houses, but most new builds feature built-in intelligent technologies. These projects give HVAC professionals a chance to gain experience installing IoT systems and seeing how they fit with a house’s other infrastructure.

    In January 2021, new home construction hit its highest level since 2006, despite COVID-related slowdowns. Homeowners today are looking to build new, presenting the perfect opportunity for smart home growth. Contractors can offer to install these technologies in new houses from the beginning, pushing the smart HVAC trend further.

    As contractors gain experience building smart homes, they’ll have evidence of their expertise to show customers. Whether clients want to construct a new house or add IoT functions to their current one, they’ll appreciate someone with demonstrable experience. Seeking these projects early will ensure HVAC professionals build their IoT portfolios before they become more in-demand.

    Smart HVAC Is the Future of the Industry

    As smart homes become more prominent, homeowners will expect smart HVAC systems. Contractors that get involved in these technologies now will be better prepared for this demand.

    Within a few years, IoT HVAC systems could become the norm. If contractors wait too long to learn about these devices and how to install them, they’ll quickly fall behind the competition. Embracing this shift early will guarantee future success.

    -Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine discussing the latest industry innovations and trends.

  • Wednesday, October 13, 2021 12:09 PM | Anonymous

    One of the most important elements of a successful business transition is transferable value. No matter what an owner sees for the future of the business, transferable value can be the common denominator that makes all goals more achievable.

    What is Transferable Value?

    Transferable value for a closely held business is most simply what a business is worth to someone else without its original owner. Transferable value should not be confused with profit. Just because your copany brings in millions of dollars of profit each year does not necessarily mean it has transferable value. Actual transferable value in a business is determined not by how well you run the business but by how well the business runs without you.

    Business owners aren’t always aware that transferable value is more than a formula involving multiples of earnings or some calculation of discounted future cash flows. To get a more accurate representation of the current state of your company’s transferable value, you can start by asking yourself a few questions:

    If you permanently leave your business today, would it continue with minimal disruption to its cash flow?

    Who will be responsible for running the business without you—and with minimal disruption to cash flow?

    Value Drivers

    One way to start to build transferable value is to evaluate your value drivers. Installing and enhancing value drivers can help create a company that can be transferred to someone else (whether that’s the next generation of family members or an outside third-party buyer)—without the owner—with minimal disruption to its cash flow. Some examples of value drivers that you may need to focus on are:

    1. Next-Level Management
    2. Operating Systems Demonstrated to Increase the Sustainability of Cash Flows
    3. Diversified Customer Base
    4. Proven Growth Strategy
    5. Recurring Revenue That Is Sustainable and Resistant to Commoditization
    6. Good and Improving Cash Flow
    7. Demonstrated Scalability
    8. Competitive Advantage
    9. Financial Foresight and Controls

    One might measure the effectiveness of value drivers in two ways:

    1. Their positive contribution to cash flow.
    2. Their ability to continue to contribute to cash flow under new ownership.

    A company with strong value drivers might demand (and receive) a higher multiple on the same amount of

    EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) than a company with weak or non-existent value drivers.

    Build Transferable Value with Your Management Team

    Building a management team that you can confidently leave your company with can be challenging. You may want to create a loyal “next-level” management team that will not only maintain the value of your business but is just as motivated as you are to grow the business to new heights. Understanding where your company may have weaknesses is essential in knowing the type of person you will need to attract to help fill the gaps. It’s worth it to ask yourself whether you are focusing on attracting people with the skill sets the company needs to accomplish growth independently from the efforts and resources of the current owners. Establishing this highly qualified team long before you think about initiating a transfer can give them the time and space to prove their ability to perform.

    Attracting the right team is the first step, retaining the team long after your departure is the real task. To hold onto these vital team members, they may require more money or some percentage of ownership as a condition of employment. Creating an effective incentive plan that fits the needs of your team is the best way to ensure your management team stays in place and continues to increase business value after your departure.

    Originally published: 10.01.21 by Keven Prather


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