How to be the Sherlock Holmes of HVAC

By Ramy Mousa

You don't need to wear a deerstalker hat or carry a magnifying glass to be an HVAC detective. Diagnosing system problems and upselling homeowners is elementary when you can spot clues and know what they mean. Here are five signs to look for during service visits.

Clue: Dark spots on door hinges. It may seem like a cosmetic problem, but this strange clue can be an HVAC systems call for help. These marks happen when an overtaxed HVAC system pulls air around the edges of closed doors in an effort to move the right amount of air through the system. As the air drags past oily hinges, it spreads the oil and any trapped dust along the edge of the hinges.

Poor airflow can stress the air handler, blower motor, and heat exchanger, which can lead to damaged equipment and, if the heat exchanger cracks, a carbon monoxide leak. Installing additional air returns and advising homeowners to leave interior doors open can correct the problem.

Clue: Water droplets on windows. Condensation can mean the system isn't controlling humidity properly. High humidity can lead to organic growth behind Sheetrock in the home, which compromises air quality. The solution is to ensure that the system is the right size for the space. A too-powerful or oversized system can cool a space without running long enough to remove humidity from the air.

Clue: Recycling bins in the home. This green clue tells you the homeowner may be interested in suggestions to increase energy efficiency. For example, upgrading to two-stage HVAC equipment can reduce the home's energy usage, conserve energy-generation resources, and lower the homeowner's utility bills.

Clue: Clogged air filters. A quick glance will clue you in to how often the filters are changed and how well they work. You can ask the homeowner how often they change the filters. If the answer is "never," you can suggest upgrading to a filter that captures more particles for better indoor air quality without restricting airflow between your maintenance visits.

Clue: Allergy symptoms. You can ask if anyone in the home has allergies, and you can look for clues like portable air filters and tissue boxes. Allergy sufferers may be interested in learning about upgraded filtration and IAQ equipment to make their home more comfortable.

Put your keen eye to the test next time you're in the field to troubleshoot existing problems and even upsell customers while you're in their home.

Learn more about how clues can lead from service to sales in our Service Sales Excellence training.

Guest blogger Ramy Mousa is a Technical Trainer for HVAC Learning Solutions.

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