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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
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    West Palm Beach FL
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    Confused Can someone self-teach themselves HVAC?

    Hello All,

    I'm new to the forum but have been a lurker for quite a while, in the last year I've purchased a lot of necessary HVAC tools and equipment from local suppliers and internet sources. Some of the items I have bought are; vacuum pump, recovery machine, digital manifold, vacuum gauge and hoses, valve core removal tools, nitrogen tanks, torches, regulators, scale, HD leak detector, benders, flare tool, etc... etc...roughly 4k+ in tools and I'm just getting started.

    Why did I buy a lot of tools you ask?

    Well it started when my home AC unit broke down this summer (slow leak in evap coil and locked compressor motor on 10+ year old unit) and I decided to replace the entire system (all new duct work, electric service, lineset, concrete pad, air handler, condenser unit) in a 1500 sq ft house.

    Several years back I helped a friend install some residential split units, (he is a licensed contractor) and found the work engaging but I had my own business at the time (still do), well 27 years in my profession has got me burned out and I'm looking to make a change.

    So I dug into some books, watched a lot of Youtube videos, leaned on my friend for help and advice and went to work changing out my system. Changed out the entire system in two days (duct work, registers, new pad, new electric on day one, and new lineset, braze, vac and charge on day two) the system is properly charged and airflow is properly balanced for both supply and return registers. It's working great.

    So Iv'e got the mindset to make a life change and enter into the HVAC profession and I thought I'd like to get the ball rolling with an interesting post on the forum, I'm way more versed in electrical, plumbing, carpentry, etc.. than HVAC, heck... 30+ years of making home repairs will do that to a man along with an arsenal of tools to boot.

    Am I crazy? Should I teach myself the basics to be more attractive to a future employer? or should I just go to work as a helper and hope that they offer OJT and offer me a future position in a couple of years to run service and repairs?

    Once I get to the required number of posts I'll post pictures.

    Also, I've also just installed a medium temp walk in, more on that in another post.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    4,227
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    Electrical and plumbing goes hand and with HVAC. Especially if you understand electrical theory. Many service calls are electrical troubleshooting. The way it sounds you have a somewhat good basic grasp of HVAC. Your probably already better than some HVAC hacks who call themselves Techs....

    Unfortunately this profession is not a 8-4:30 job 5 days a week, certainly stressful, heavy lifting, hot attic work, cold rooftop work etc. working out of a van for the most part in all weather conditions, on call, weekends, etc.etc.

    I would try to get hired as OJT and polish up on installs, brazing, then branch into service building up your electrical troubleshooting skills also. Need to get registered with the state to apply for licensing in the future. Can take NATE or equivalent courses to help fill in what you lack for not going to school and get your EPA certification. You sound motivated and sincere which helps.

    With all the tools you own, the temptation would be to do side jobs once you get more experienced. Making sure you do not do jobs for existing customers of your boss even if they are not satisfied with the company.

    That's my worth..
    Last edited by Bazooka Joey; 11-28-2018 at 12:26 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Northern NV
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    If you are a quick read/study you can probably learn a lot. But, working alongside someone that is GOOD will teach you a lot about stuff the books don't cover..

    Find someone in the one horse business and work out a relationship. They would typically love to have someone take some calls and get a day off now and then.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Iowa
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    Sure you can.

    But in Florida to work for your self (HVAC contractor) have shop and hire others, you must provide proof of training and or experince from an accedited training program or licesned FL contractor. As I see the Florida requirements you will need to come up with a total of 4 years. They have a number of ways you can get the 4 years: construction work experience with 1 year minimum in HVAC, and/or Apprentice type training or classroom type training Someplace you will have to come up with that, I'm pretty sure they will not accept that you are self taught and or you did work as a non-licesned business. .

    Then you have to pass 2 tests (1 business & finance, 1 craft knowledge). You need to show your knowledge, training and work experince before they will let you sit for the test. After you complete the test you can go get all the other stuff you need. Which you may be able to piggyback onto your other business.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    8,258
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    Self teaching is the hard way. I've read that a day in the library is worth a month in the lab. Meaning someone has already done the leg work and your just repeating the effort.
    I worked at my first hvac shop for two months when the only tech there quit. Next day I was handed my calls and had to apply a ton of effort to survive that experience.
    No one in that shop had any tech experience. Just plumbers, fitters, and tinners.

    There is so much that will be missed by taking this trade on by yourself. The plus side of book learning is the information is good. In most cases anyway. I lived at the local library until I got somewhat comfortable.

    There are a ton of guys doing hvac work out there and doing it wrong. I could give many examples of techs that ddn't know even the basics. They function on bad information. In other fields there is a lot of specialization. Hvac is usually just the machines, then controls, then T&B so a tech has a large learning curve to be any good.

    This site is one of the best for learning. If someone gives bad info, someone else will correct them. Some here are on an engineering level.
    I should have played the g'tar on the MTV. MK

    You can be anything you want......As long as you don't suck at it.

    USAF 98 Bomb Wing 1960-66 SMW Lu49

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    1,436
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    Welcome

    Good luck with this.

    This is a very expansive trade.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
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    8
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    expensive trade? what do you mean?

    i'm a 6 month apprentice btw

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Citrus County, Florida
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    2,810
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    In Florida you will have to prove that you ran a crew for one year also. Remember that when you work for yourself, you have to solve all the problems that you run into. It is not all fun and games.
    Doug

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Earth
    Posts
    15
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    I have 2 thoughts on this. Full disclosure I am not an HVAC tech.

    However, I fully believe a person can self teach themselves anything. My father and I built 3 houses without either of us ever working a day in construction. The internet, books, and watching other houses get built taught us what we needed to know. 12 years later my house is still standing.

    In my own profession, network engineering, I am also self taught which leads me to thought number 2. Don't be afraid to start at the bottom some where and work your way up through the ranks. Too many people these days expect to get out of school and start making big money on day one. I've never subscribed to that and felt I needed to prove my worth. If you have talent and dedication it will happen. I started at the bottom of my company and now I'm running it. If an employer sees that you are willing to work hard and learn and don't require any personal supervision to get a job done you will work your way up.

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