HVAC for Dummies

By Marcie Turner

With cold weather creeping up on us, I decided to send a letter to all of our Clients regarding the maintenance of furnaces in their rental properties. In my opinion the letter was pretty standard offering a service of cleaning and inspecting of the HVAC system.

To my surprise, I received several responses from our Australian Clients asking questions such as “What is a furnace” and “Why does it need servicing” and “What does HVAC mean”. After a couple of emails and phone calls it became clearly evident that these folks were completely unaware of how we heat and cool our homes in the U.S. Most of them thought I was referring to a “Fireplace” or a “Portable Heater”. 

Apparently the weather is so mild in Australia, that most people do not have a need for Central Heat and Air and are not really aware of what it is and how it works. Being from Georgia, this made me green with envy. I could just imagine opening my power bill in the middle of July and NOT seeing triple digits for my A/C use. And not to mention how nice it would be to NOT fight over the thermostat. This is a running joke in my home.  No one ever knows or fesses up to “Who” moved the dial.

At any rate, I put my envy aside and decided that maybe it would help if I explained the HVAC system and its purpose and why it was important to do the checkups for them.

I started off by explaining that HVAC is a term that we use to recognize cooling and heating for our homes and that the abbreviation stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”.

And since I was not an HVAC expert, I decided to trust my handy dandy internet to search out proper explanations. After several hours of searching, I came up with the following brief definition of a “Furnace”; a mechanical device permanently installed in a home that is used for heating. It may be powered by Gas or Electricity depending upon several factors. (Builders choice, gas service availability, etc…). The heat from the furnace is distributed throughout the home through a ventilation system usually installed in the attic area or in the crawl space under the home. Each room in the home receives the heat through an opening that is vented at the ceiling or floor depending on the type of ventilation system installed. The Air Conditioning system works in the same manner and also has a permanent structure installed in the home.  We use the term “Central Heating and Air” for this process. 

I also provided them with a link which contained great detail in case they were interested in more information on how our systems workhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hvac

Once I felt confident that I had explained the heating system to them, I thought it would be a good time to bring up the inspections again. After all, that’s what started this entire educational process that I threw myself into.  I advised them that there were several reasons we recommend the checkups; 

  • Maintaining and cleaning the furnace will help the unit operate more efficiently and prolong the life span of the unit.
  • The evaluation may help spot issues early & those issues can be repaired before they become major issues.
  • Simple problems left unrepaired can cause major damage later down the road.

I was so excited when I received an overwhelming response from our Aussies thanking me and advising me to do the checkups. It just goes to show, that what seems obvious to us may not be so clear to others.

This made me realize that sometimes you have to take a little time to explain things in order to allow your clients to fully appreciate the services you offer to them. This applies to all of our client base, Foreign and domestic as well.

In the famous words of Burt Reynolds from Smokey and the Bandit “When you tell somebody something, it depends on what part of the country you’re standing in as to just how dumb you are”. I guess this could apply to Countries too!