The Wall
Forum / THE MAIN WALL / Review by "experts"
  • Post a Reply to this Thread

    Review by "experts" (23 Posts)

  • Tim McElwain Tim McElwain @ 7:22 PM
    Contact this user

    Review by "experts"

    I was recently approached to do some gas training for a trade group. They requested to review the material I would use for training their personnel. I obliged with all the material we use. The finding from their education committee as follows.

    Upon review of the material you offered we find much of it is not necessary for persons who have a license. All personnel understand venting, air for combustion, fundamentals of combustion, basic wiring and electrical diagrams. The basic hydronics is too elementary as we are looking for training on new 80% Mod/Con boilers. (I explained that 80% boilers are not Mod/Con).

    Anyway without going any further with this insane business I challenged them to have 5 of their hand picked personnel take one of my exams.The five all graduated at one time from a local trade school. I told them they could even use books or manuals to find answers and that they could take the exams home and work on them and get any help they needed. They had the exams for two weeks. I received them back and corrected all of them today top score was a 52% by one person (70% is passing in my classes) all the other scores were under 40%. All of these folks are licensed as Masters. I would never say who they are or where they come from but the education committee I spoke to this afternoon were shocked and want to see the exams. I will deliver them tomorrow for their review.

    I find that many who work in this business fall into this category of not knowing some of the fundamentals that are so necessary especially with all of the new equipment. So maybe the fundamentals are not so fundamental after all. Maybe I should call them advanced learning.
  • Chris Chris @ 7:35 PM
    Contact this user

    That's The Difference

    Between good wrench turners which that committe probably perceives as knowing the science and true professionals. What may be more alarming is that they probably didn't know where to find the anwsers in a book or worse don't have the reference material at all.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 8:06 PM
    Contact this user

    And they wonder

    why our industry gets such a bad rap!

    For those not familiar, I've taken some of Tim's training- and it's one of the best things I have ever done. We're gonna be in real bad shape whenever he decides to retire!
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • croydoncorgi croydoncorgi @ 8:33 PM
    Contact this user

    'Knowing the science '

    is the LEAST likely scenario.

    Most of the problems gas fitters both sides of the pond have with exams are from two causes:
    - not understanding the science in the first place
    - not being prepared to listen and learn, sometimes based on 'Sonny, I was doing this job before you were conceived...'

    These, and being blind-sided by the thought of any exam!  Quite surprising the number of people who get mental paralysis at even the thought of being tested at anything.
  • meplumber meplumber @ 8:49 PM
    Contact this user

    Related side note.

    A while back, I hired a guy that was moving back home after 7 years as a service tech with a large "National Chain" HVAC service company out of state.

    Long story short, this guy was the worst troubleshooter I had ever seen. I had 2nd year apprentices that could troubleshoot better than this. He was absolutely horrible. A parts changer extraordinaire.

    I offered him a chance to go back to "helper" status for a year while we brought him up to speed. He denied the opportunity and we had to part ways.

    My point. He was in no way a Master Technician, regardless of license or title. Also, his lack of desire to learn was hard to take.

    I have been doing this my whole life and I learn something new everyday. Don't let them frustrate you Tim.
    This post was edited by an admin on December 27, 2011 8:50 PM.
  • Mark Eatherton Mark Eatherton @ 8:56 PM
    Contact this user

    Way to go Tim ...

    I think you just proved a VERY valid point.

    Just because you are licensed, doesn't mean you know what it is that you are doing.

    I'd be wiling to bet that less than 2% of their members do a combustion analysis, and less than 1/2 of those people know how to interpret them...

    You handled the situation much better than I would have... My tolerance for ignorance is getting thin. Must be aged related :-)

    Kudos. Gas Master...

    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
    This post was edited by an admin on December 27, 2011 9:05 PM.
  • ttekushan ttekushan @ 9:14 PM
    Contact this user

    "N" is for Nowledge!

    One would think that with two weeks to complete the exam that you should be able to at least muster a passing grade of 70% without taking the class.  This is not to diminish the content of the course in any way.  On the contrary, it proves the value of it since you might have to hit dozens of sources to find the information needed to pass the test.

    So... they don't have the requisite knowledge AND they haven't mastered the art of research.   I'm ignorant of all sorts of things, but I like to think I've honed my ability to find the answers, as I suspect everyone else here on heatinghelp has.  Why else would we be here?  To help and to learn.

    Its a sad commentary that they won't avail themselves of Tim's expertise, but let me take this opportunity to say that, though Tim has never heard a peep from me before, I have read his posts here on heatinghelp for years now.   The problem-solving context that these forums provide Tim's answers make everything make all the more sense.

    So Tim-- thank you.
    terry
  • Gordy Gordy @ 10:38 PM
    Contact this user

    Blind leading the Blind

    "The finding from their education committee as follows."

    "Upon review of the material you offered we find much of it is not necessary for persons who have a license. All personnel understand venting, air for combustion, fundamentals of combustion, basic wiring and electrical diagrams. The basic hydronics is too elementary as we are looking for training on new 80% Mod/Con boilers. (I explained that 80% boilers are not Mod/Con)."

    "Anyway without going any further with this insane business I challenged them to have 5 of their hand picked personnel take one of my exams.The five all graduated at one time from a local trade school."



     I think you found the SLACKERS Tim.  If those personel were hand picked by THEIR EDUCATION COMMITTEE, and that same committee thinks Mod/Cons are 80% efficient sounds like the blind leading the blind to me. Should have had the education committee take the exam first.

    Gordy
  • Ironman Ironman @ 11:45 PM
    Contact this user

    Good Wrench Turners?

    Chris,
    That may be the most apt description of so many in this trade.

    I've got 40 years experience and two things that I've observed in that time keep a lot of guys from being any thing more than a wrench turner:

    1. Many people cannot think abstractly. I believe you are either born with this ability or not. If you don't have it, you are not going to be competent at service and design work. The ability to picture in your mind what is taking place in a system or circuit from the readings that you're able to take is essential to proper diagnosis. Again, my experience is you either have it or you don't, but it doesn't appear to be something that can be acquired.

    I know a man in this trade who is very intelligent and teaches at a trade school. He can quote freely from the code books or from diagnostic flow charts. But, I went behind him on a job where he spent over a day trying to connect a power venter to an 80% furnace and couldn't figure it out. He finally left it in the vent un-wired and when I came in months later, the furnace was ruined. It appears he lacks this ability to think abstractly.

    2. The other thing that I've seen is that a whole lot of folks just plain don't care to put forth the effort to learn. Simply put, they're just lazy. They want to show up for 8 hours, or less, do as little as possible and then get paid top dollar whether they've performed well or not. They're not about to go out on their time and try to learn or better themselves; no one is paying them. And even when someone does, they goof off in class and don't get much from it. Unfortunately, I've wasted much time and $$ on this type.

    To me, it's always been a flaw in the licensing process that almost all the emphasis is on what the code book says and not the ability to understand and diagnose systems.

    Tim,
    You are indeed a treasure to our industry and your input is so desperately needed to groups like the one you're dealing with. Keep on keeping on. There are some who want to learn and better themselves. Keep helping those who desire help. You are appreciated.
    Bob Boan



    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
    This post was edited by an admin on December 28, 2011 11:49 PM.
  • croydoncorgi croydoncorgi @ 5:12 PM
    Contact this user

    Va!luable people - both sides of the Ditch

    You're totally right!
    People like Tim are valuable - but unvalued everywhere!

    Depressing thought how time is taking its toll with no reliable source of replacements.
  • Tim McElwain Tim McElwain @ 5:54 PM
    Contact this user

    Some follow up

    on this education process. I have been invited to look at four jobs that some members of this group have been having problems with for several months. No work or labor on my part just offering some consulting on what I think may be wrong with these jobs. Two have been in for two years and the complaint is high gas bills and insufficient heat in some zones. Two others are constant problems with nuisance shut downs. This should be interesting, I will go out on two of them next week. I will keep you posted as to results.

    It seems the issue here as to education is that they have spent money on outside training and have found it to be inadequate to teach their personnel how to resolve many of the problems they are encountering. The two training venues they used are advertised as "Gas Experts".

    In fairness to this association the education committee are not professionals but a part of the executive committee for this association hired by them to operate and manage the association. They are very polite and seem to want to resolve their problems they are just not sure how to go about doing it.

    Another part of this is the financial investment they have made into education over the past few years only to find it is not up to date with present technology. They feel that good money was spent and what was needed was not addressed. They are up on codes but not on actual installation, set-up and servicing of Mod/Con systems.

    Someone mentioned in posts here about combustion analyzers, I asked about that as to how many have testers and know how to use them. They are doing an informal survey at their next meeting on that subject.

    I must also say that much of the service now done in Rhode Island on gas is done by an outfit called the "Gas Doctor". The company is owned and operated by one of my former students at the gas company. They do excellent work on all phases of gas systems even small white good appliances. All of their personnel have been through my 240 hour program and the additional follow up program of 120 hours of advanced classes.

    Some of the tradesman who own businesses rely strictly on them to take care of gas issues. The issue there is in these tough economical times the money is not there to use and outside outfit to take care of their problems. They want to be able to do this work themselves.
  • SWEI SWEI @ 10:57 PM
    Contact this user

    Gas Doctor

    That has to be one of the happier stories I've heard recently.  Congrats to both of you.
  • meplumber meplumber @ 6:03 PM
    Contact this user

    Well put Bob.

    I don't know about you, but when I got licensed way back when, the licensing exam was a 2 or 3 part process.

    Now it is a 100 question test. So basically if you can read and do a little math, you can pass the test. In Maine, your signing master only verifies the number of hours that you worked as a journeyman or apprentice. Not that you are qualified to move up.

    It didn't used to be that way. Kinder Gentler America. Sad. Very Sad.
  • Eugene Silberstein Eugene Silberstein @ 12:25 PM
    Contact this user

    Sad But True

    I can feel your pain Tim.

    I was called to do some in-house training for an out-of-state company. Before heading out, I like to speak with the company owners to get a feel for what type of training they are looking for and how I can best serve them.

    The owner had very high expectations for his technicians and wanted me to spend the two days doing advanced troubleshooting, both electrical and mechanical.

    As usual, I arrived at the location a day early to "poke around" and get to know the techs a little and visit them on a job or two to get a feel for what they knew and how I could best help.

    Even the most experienced techs at the company seemed to be lacking in the basics. When I mentioned this to the company owner and suggested that we "start at the beginning", the owner was shocked to say the least.

    The moral of the story...No matter how much people tell you they know, everyone can use a "brush-up" every so often.

    I like the term "advanced learning".

    All the best to you Tim!
    Eugene
  • Greig1 Greig1 @ 3:41 PM
    Contact this user

    30 year service tech

    The more you LEARN the more you EARN!  It is that simple.  I have used this many times in my mentoring of apprentices and in life.
  • Advanced Learning

    So very true.
    As an instructor I find the thought of "Review of Basics" all too unpleasant for many adult students. Gently reviewing basic sequence of operation , theory and lab work without the student feeling the lesson plan for the day is review , always works well though.
    Adopting this into the curriculum for both trade and technical schools where I instruct , I have seen a better understanding of basics, class participation and test scores overall from our students. The realization of far too many technicians NOT having a solid foundation of basics is a very scary prospect in our industry. The importance of basic theory , sequence of operation and troubleshooting can never be understated.
    Being creative in lesson plan and curriculum in such ways as to include daily review , without the student realizing review is the days topic, is most rewarding not only to the adult student but to the instructor as well.
    Thank You to Eugene , Tim and Dan for allowing me to "borrow" a page from your books to better prepare technicians and strengthen our trades technicians abilities.
    helpingothershelpthemselves
    Ken Resnick
    He who knows WHY


    Shall be master of


    He who knows HOW
  • gennady gennady @ 12:46 AM
    Contact this user

    experts

    My 5 cents on issue of qualifications of heating specialists, is that this profession requires a good level of knowledge in combustion, hydronic, electric and electric controls and so on. The one must be sharp and capable of thinking. Combined with low pay level and low acceptance in the society , this profession does not attract smart and sharp people. And also this person must be capable to come out of the bed at 2 am winter night to go and service the boiler. Seems it is too demanding job. smart kids go to college and then easy make 120K a year sitting 8 hours a day at some lehman brothers office, Why bother.
    Gennady Tsakh

    Absolute Mechanical Co. Inc.
    www.AbsoluteMechanicalCoInc.com
  • Jean-David Beyer Jean-David Beyer @ 6:43 AM
    Contact this user

    easy make 120K a year sitting 8 hours a day at some lehman brothers office

    Sitting 8 hours a day at a Lehman Brothers office is probably a pretty lonely occupation these days. People who used to work there that are well-trained heating engineers and technicians might be glad to have their additional skills.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lehman_Brothers

    I had a landscaper who used to be an investment banker in NYC who got fired because the company he had worked at was over staffed, and they wanted to get rid of the higher paid upper level employees. He took up landscaping, for much less money. He said it was the best move he ever made. He could cut down on his drinking and smoking. Could sleep better. Quality of life improved. Unless you inherit a lot of money (best way to get rich), you can pay a very high price to attain financial riches. There are other forms of riches.
  • gennady gennady @ 7:30 AM
    Contact this user

    niche

    friend of my family has a son, he is 26 years old, i take care of her boiler when she asks,he is very interested in heating, and very smart, likes to work with his hands. He lost 100k job , and found another one 120k with in a couple weeks, to push paper around. very depressed fellow. His girlfriend is a MD.What can i offer him? $60 per hour with full benefits and pension plan to start? We are talking about smart people not coming into the trade.
    Gennady Tsakh

    Absolute Mechanical Co. Inc.
    www.AbsoluteMechanicalCoInc.com
  • gpdad gpdad @ 12:17 AM
    Contact this user

    If I may chime

    Unfortunately, there will come a time when the office is cold and or some other way uncomfortable and there will be no one to service the building. Or the price will be insane...er. I believe there needs to be a change in thinking. That one should be proud that they work in the trades and what they can accomplish with their hands and knowledge. And of course, be financially rewarded. Has anyone else read the book Shop class for soul craft?
  • gpdad gpdad @ 12:18 AM
    Contact this user

    If I may chime

    Unfortunately, there will come a time when the office is cold and or some other way uncomfortable and there will be no one to service the building. Or the price will be insane...er. I believe there needs to be a change in thinking. That one should be proud that they work in the trades and what they can accomplish with their hands and knowledge. And of course, be financially rewarded. Has anyone else read the book Shop class for soul craft?
  • icesailor icesailor @ 7:53 AM
    Contact this user

    Seeking "experts" for work:

    I was reading a string on HVAC-Talk on "The Wall Of Shame" where potential customers post ads looking for someone to do work for them on Craig's List and other such sites.. They dictate terms. Will pay $20.00 per hour, they have bought all the equipment, the winning bid must have licences, insurance, permits, and warranty the work for two years, Blah, Blah, Blah.
    One of those $100,000 per year twerps that couldn't find a roll of toilet paper if the holder was full and within reach of the toilet.
    Remember, that guy is "A Job Creator".
    Screw him! We're "The Wealth Creators". If we didn't work and get paid, the "Job Creators" wouldn't have any wealth to salt in their offshore bank accounts or pay their non-English speaking landscaping laborers to mow their lawn. The same ones who will immediately scatter like bird shot if you shout out "I need some ICE". You say the first part at a regular tone, and scream the "ICE" part.
    Life is good.
  • This post has been deleted!

  • Charlie from wmass Charlie from wmass @ 9:39 PM
    Contact this user

    I would love to see the test Tim

    I would love to give it a crack. If it were not for others installing boilers I think I would starve. Most of my days are spent reinstalling other peoples work. I will be posting some pics soon of my latest adventures with welded tees.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.
    cell # 413-841-6726
  •  
Post a Reply to this Thread