Why I chose HVAC work over college

Although I did very well in high school, it was not something I enjoyed.

  • Due to my natural intelligence and ability to get along with people, my teachers all started pushing me into applying for college.

They told me that to really succeed in life I would need a college degree. They were trying to be encouraging and supportive, but they actually pushed me towards doing something that I had no interest in doing. The truth is that when I looked at the facts and figures, I realized that a college degree is no longer a wise investment. A much smarter move was to become HVAC certified, and start making a great salary while avoiding all that nasty student loan debt. Having a degree from an esteemed university is all about status, and I knew that with an HVAC certification I could make more money in my career than with a fancy degree. I didn’t need status, I needed stability, and by some simple market research I saw that the HVAC industry had been growing steadily for decades and showed no signs of slowing down. If I was going to learn a trade it needed to be in a grown industry like HVAC, because that would almost guarantee future job opportunities. I have heard from friends and relatives that I was “too smart” to go into HVAC work, and that I should be going to college. I always tell them that being smart was why I chose not to go to college! HVAC work was the smart choice for me, they will realize that one day.

 

oil heater

Earning my first air conditioner

What is the point of even having an air conditioner if you refuse to use it? It got me motivated enough that I rode my bike up to Walmart and got the retail price for the cheapest portable air conditioner.

I remember when I was 12 years old I started mowing lawns to earn extra money. This was a different generation, as much as I hate admitting how old I am. These days it seems that grown men do all of the yard work for our neighborhood, but in my day it was just a kid dragging a single lawnmower around. I was lucky if I got five bucks for mowing a lawn, but I stayed with it, all through the spring and into the summer, to achieve my goal. I wasn’t saving up for comics, or a new bike, I wanted my own air conditioner. My dad was a tyrant with the thermostat, and even when it got over 80 degrees in the house he refused to turn it on. What is the point of even having an air conditioner if you refuse to use it? It got me motivated enough that I rode my bike up to Walmart and got the retail price for the cheapest portable air conditioner. If he refused to let me use the air conditioner I would just have to buy my own and use that instead. I worked my butt off for weeks, but finally had enough cash to buy my own little A/C unit, and my friends helped me install it in the window of my bedroom. What I didn’t expect was that after you buy the air conditioner you still have to pay for the electricity to make it work. My dad made me pay my fair share of the utility bill after that

 

 

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The size of an industrial HVAC system

The scope is enormous! You know how big your own HVAC system is at home, and how it is strong enough to cool or heat your entire house

When the performers are out there under the lights, in front of the crowd, it can get hot. I work for the facility, not with any one particular band or artist, but my job is very important. Rock bands probably have it the worst, because they are so high-energy on stage, and have the brightest lights. Stage plays are much different, and a lot calmer, but they also rely more on heavy stage makeup, which can run if the actors get too hot. I am the head HVAC tech for the facility, and I work hard to make sure the audience and the performers all get the best possible experience. I don’t do it alone, of course, because the gargantuan size of our climate control system requires a full team of certified experts. If you have never before seen an industrial sized HVAC system, you might just get blown away by the size of these things. The scope is enormous! You know how big your own HVAC system is at home, and how it is strong enough to cool or heat your entire house. Now picture a house one hundred times as big, holding thousands of people a night, and consider how massive that HVAC system needs to be! This is how I make my living, spending all day every day tending to the behemoth heating and cooling system, with its miles worth of ductwork. That’s right, our system has over seven miles worth of air ducts, and I have to make sure every last inch of it is in perfect working condition.

 

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The air quality here is atrocious

The dry, dusty air was as thick as London fog, and we had to run the central HVAC constantly just to make the air more breathable.

I grew up in a little clutch of houses too small to even be called a town. There was a gas station nearby, and a 12-room hotel, and 30 or 40 houses on the side of a seaside hill. This place was picturesque, quiet, and an amazing place to grow up. I could see the ocean from my front yard, and a half mile up the road were a series of logging trails that led deep into the dense forest. When I was in high school my dad got a new job and we had to move to the midwest, which was a shock to my system. This place was so hot it felt like I would melt whenever I left the safety of the air conditioning. It took a few days before I adjusted the heat, at which point I realized there was something even worse – the air quality. The dry, dusty air was as thick as London fog, and we had to run the central HVAC constantly just to make the air more breathable. Long before COVID people were wearing masks around here, just to serve as an air filter for the air they breathe. We went from changing the air filter in the central system once every two months, to once every two weeks! The air filters were always clogged up with dirt and dusty so quickly, we had to start buying the 12- filter supersized pack. We thought about getting the HEPA air filters, but we went through them so quickly they would be cost prohibitive.

 

 

air conditioning worker

Fixing the AC for Aunt Ruth

I’m not sure what exactly happened with Aunt Ruth, but she has been crazy my whole life.

She isn’t dangerously crazy, no violence or criminal behavior or anything like that.

She does believe in aliens and government conspiracies, and likes to stay inside her house virtually all of the time. She also doesn’t like strangers coming into her house, which leaves her in quite the pickle. I was one of the only people she allowed to come over regularly, and I helped her out as much as I could. Bringing over groceries is one thing, but when her central HVAC system broke there was not much I could do to remedy it. She said she would pay me $500 if I could fix the cooling system without having to call in a worker. I explained that she could easily find an HVAC tech for less than that amount of money, but it wasn’t about the money for her. She just didn’t want a stranger in her house for any reason, so if I could find a way to fix the cooling she would pay me that money. I had to try, right? I started by finding out the make and model of her air conditioner, and then looking up tutorial videos on Youtube to match it. That took a long time, and didn’t help me fix the cooling, so I decided to make a bold move and buy a small, portable air conditioner from Walmart. It only cost $150, which meant I would still profit a nice $350 and Ruth would have cooling.

 

 

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Buying the air conditioner is the first step

A lesson I try to teach my kids is that money gives you freedom.

  • When you have money of your own, you have the ability to make more choices.

I tell them this to encourage them to go out and find part time jobs, or to cut lawns around the neighborhood, or become babysitting while they are in high school. I don’t just hand out money – I pay the bills and buy the food, and anything else they need to buy for themselves. When they realized how much they wanted to have spending money, they found the motivation to look for work. I don’t let the kids decide when we get to turn down the air conditioner, that is up to me. When they want the cooling levels adjusted they ask me, and I determine if we should turn the thermostat down or not. Usually I decide that it is cool enough already, because I am the one paying the utility bill at the end of the month. The kids decided that they would save up their money to buy a small air conditioner for their end of the house. They thought this meant they could use the A/C as much as they wanted. To some degree they were correct, but before they bought this air conditioner I explained to them that it cost money to run it, as well. If they wanted the cooling they would have to pay part of the utility bill every month. The kids didn’t know that buying the A/C unit was just the first part, and that they had to keep paying to use it.

 

furnace filter

I didn't want the night guard sleeping

I bought a vacant lot downtown and a couple of months ago I turned it into parking spaces.

  • There are several clubs and bars close to the parking lot, so I can charge $15 for parking.

I can charge $20 for parking on the weekends, as long as I have a security guard to watch the lot. I’ve honestly never had anyone complain about the price they have to pay. When I purchased the vacant lot and turned it into parking, I had a contractor come to the lot to paint parking spaces. Everything had to be exactly perfect and within the limits for the city. I had to keep each face exactly eight and a half feet apart and I had to prepare separate parking for handicapped patrons. By law I was required to have one handicap spot for every 10 regular spots that I provided. I hired a night guard and I bought a small mobile building for the guard to sit inside of at night. I didn’t want the guard to stand outside in the rain and I knew it was important to have a place where the guy could keep a till for the parking meters. Unfortunately, I drove by the parking lot last Saturday night and the guard was sleeping inside of the mobile building. I walked all the way up to the guard shack before the guy was alerted. He could have been shot in the back and no one would have seen anything. I am beginning to think that having the guard inside of a portable building at night might not be the best thing.

Portable Restrooms

My son in law is a great guy

My daughter picked a good one, I’ll say that.

And that’s great, because going off of some of her previous boyfriends, I wasn’t sure how good she was at judging character.

Anyways, my son in law worked as a HVAC specialist most of his life. When he graduated high school, he went to a local heating and A/C university and graduated as a certified heating and A/C worker. Afterwards, he was hired at a HVAC company nearby. Since HVAC workers are always in high demand, he has been able to not only keep his job, but easily get others if other HVAC corporations proved to have better pay or benefits. Then he grew tired of working for an A/C dealer, and he became an independent A/C technician for a while. This too, wasn’t enough for him, so then he bought out another A/C company and made it his own. He made a lot of changes to that HVAC dealer, and has made a ton of profit over it. But the best part is the fact that this same heating and air conditioning business constantly has fundraisers for charities, and always donates a portion of their profits to charity. I have yet to hear of any other business that does that. He is also always open to maintaining or repairing our air conditioner or furnace, and that is saying a lot because I am sure he works long hours. Overall, he is just a great guy, and I am glad to have him as my son in law.

 

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I was satisfied with my progress

I’m honestly so happy at how far I’ve come.

It really reminds of a song I used to listen to, and the song would basically describe how it doesn’t seem that you’ve made it far, but when you look back in the past, you see a different version of yourself, the present you have completely changed.

I didn’t understand the meaning of much of the song at the time, but now looking back, I can understand exactly what it was talking about. A few years ago, I was getting into fights and shoplifting. Around the same time, my girlfriend left me when I went to jail. I started drinking heavily, and became addicted. It was my friend that managed to help me correct my situation, because even when drunk I realized I didn’t like the path I was heading towards. With his help, I went to heating and A/C university, and became a certified HVAC technician. Thanks to staying sober, I have been working actively everyday, and I don’t even think about drinking anymore. I love my job as a HVAC tech, and I love to help repair or install heating and air conditioning machines. I’m so glad I discovered my passion for HVAC. I get a decent pay, and I am now seeing someone new. When in those bleak moments, it’s hard to think of any happiness in the future, but it’s there, and you’ll get through the dark moments, and finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to be patient.

Air conditioning technician

I would have to update my furnace to work from home

As much as I absolutely love the idea of working from home, and as much as I really enjoy it, I knew there was going to have to be some changes around the home.

One of the changes would be my schedule, because the kids are currently getting up early in the morning and screaming their heads off.

There is no way I can focus with screaming kids in the background. So they are going to have to learn to leave me undisturbed until I am off of work. The second thing that I need to change has to do with my house, and that is the furnace system. The heating unit has been out for forever, and since our winters were pretty mild, I never bothered to get it fixed because of that. However, my home office can get really cold, and since I am now working from home, I don’t want the temperatures affecting my productivity. Not only that, but I am sure my boys can benefit from having a heating unit in the home again, since it seems like kids are more sensitive to cold. I am going to be busy today so I planned on Friday to call the local heating and A/C business, and ask them for HVAC repair. The closest appointment I could get was next week, which is fine. When the next week finally did come, and the HVAC specialist was at our home, he surprisingly was able to repair the furnace in about 30 minutes. Afterwards he left, and we had our heater back.

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