Have you ever stood in a store aisle holding two different brands of the same product side by side reading the labels to try and figure out which one is the better product? Or do you always go for the same brand because it has always worked well for you in the past? Household items might not elicit such careful decision making, but when it comes to your job, quality craftsmanship calls for the best materials for your application.

We wanted our students to learn from the long-time HVAC pros who have relied on the same tried and true materials for decades and find out why they use what they use. Follow along with Gustavo, Aaron, and Chris for a look at the behind-the-scenes decision-making processes that HVAC technicians employ.

Gustavo: Use What Works

Mission “Brand Power” was definitely an interesting one that gave me a better insight on the name brands and materials that HVAC technicians out there use on a daily basis. I had the great honor to interview 3 outstanding HVAC technicians with different work experience and views about certain name brands that are being used out there in this field. This project helped me better understand how important it is to use the right materials for certain jobs. Interviewing 3 different technicians with different work experience allowed me to see deeper into the performance of certain name brand tapes. After conducting my interview with each technician, my knowledge and views of certain name brands that make HVAC tapes and products, had changed dramatically. Over all, I had a great time speaking with all 3 technicians and am positive about running into them in the near future!!

Q1: Do you have certain brands of HVAC materials and tapes that you choose over others?

A1: Abraham stated he uses well-known name brands. He has worked in the HVAC field for over 6 years now, and is very satisfied with the performance and quality of the name brands he uses most of the time.

A2: Mario, who works for “ Home Pro” Heating & Cooling Co, does not have favorite name brand(s) in particular. According to Mario, all name brands have their advantages and disadvantages when it came to holding up to their advertised standards. He made sure to let us know that in the 9 years that he has worked in the HVAC field, he has never had a problem with Duck Tape, Shurtape and Hardcast brand tapes and supplies. Mario has used many brands of tapes and supplies, but does not have a favorite name brand.

A3: Jacob, who is 27 years old and who has been working in his father’s AC &Heating company since the age of 15, stated to me that his father trusts brands such as Hardcast, Flexfix and Fasson. Jacob still till this day uses those name brands, and does not think his father will replace them with other name brands anytime soon. I asked Jacob if he liked the name brand “Shurtape”, and his reply to me was “ohh yes, of course I do!” while pointing to a roll of it inside his work van. All 3 technicians spoke great about certain brands, and as crazy as it seems, not one gave me a brand they did not like. They were all happy with the brands they used. Abraham did give me a piece of advice, and warned me about using cheap dollar store tapes or HVAC supplies found in local corner stores as a quick fix to a job because taking short cuts would cost me twice as much in the long run.

 

Q2: What is the most important factor in your purchase decisions for HVAC materials?

A: Price and quality seemed to be the answer choices to this question from all 3 technicians. When I asked this question to all 3 HVAC technicians, they all took in consideration the dollar amount spent on materials and how often they purchased materials. Abraham from “Highland AC” company, did stress to me the importance of using high quality materials with every job at hand. Using poor grade or cheap tapes and materials will eventually hurt you on the long run because of the high call backs that you will get once the customers systems start to malfunction or act up. Jacob from “J & J” AC/Heating Co, mentioned to me that his father was the one in charge of buying most of the materials for their company, and that “quality” was the deciding factor and number one reason for them. Using great quality brand name materials, will help a business gain an outstanding and positive reputation, which will eventually bring you more business.

 

Q3: Do you ever try new brands of the products you use or are you satisfied with what you have?

A: Abraham stated that many times he has found himself trying new products while working out there. Abraham has different supply store accounts, and therefore can use different name brand supplies and tapes. At the end of the day, using top name brands that everyone knows in this field, will almost never let you down or fail you. Mario and Jacob used the same preferred brands of products nearly all the time. Each of the companies they work for , buys and provides most of their supplies and equipment, therefore they don’t spend much time on trying out other name brands. Jacob mentioned to me that his father continues to buy most of the same name brands repeatedly because of their great endurance and performance, but also because of the good deals certain companies give most of the time to their loyal customers.

 

Q4: Are there any other factors that impact the products and materials that you use for HVAC work?

A1: Abraham stated that when it came to working in this field and working inside city limits, there was always something that impacted the products and materials used for the project at hand. He stated that Houston had their own special standards and that only certain products approved by them, could be used when performing HVAC work. He advised me to look into “The City of Houston Mechanical/ Construction Code book” before performing any HVAC work inside its city limits.

A2: According to Mario, even though he did not work inside Houston City limits, he mentioned to me that sometimes many customers did ask for certain specific products & name brand materials be used on the HVAC work being performed. He saw this happening only on construction projects that required the installation of many heating and cooling units. Jacob stated to me that when it came to products and materials, he was careful when choosing the right name brand product for the specific job. According to Jacob, he has noticed that certain products and materials work and perform better when used in conjunction with the same brand manufacturer, but no so much if mixing products and materials that are made by different manufacturers.

A3: Jacob mentioned to me that even with all the years of experience in the HVAC field, he has yet to try working with hundreds of different name brand products and materials. He mentioned to me that their company does use the same “Honeywell” name brand of Air Filters for all their residential projects and “Carrier” name brand for most of their commercial HVAC jobs. He assured me that it would take many years of working in the field in order to experience working with all product name brands that exist.

 

Aaron: Quality First

I interviewed Mr. Michael Feutz and Mr. Gerry Lucas. Mike worked in the sheet metal industry for a very long time and Gerry worked for a mechanical contractor for 8 years. The knowledge and experienced from these two provided me great insight towards which materials produce the best results.

Q1: Do you have certain brands of HVAC materials and tapes that you choose over others?

A1: Mike said that he normally uses the Shurtape brand because this brand has been the most reliable to him and at an affordable price.

A2: Gerry said he prefers the Shurtape brand of materials because this brand acted as a great adhesive and the tape seemed thicker than other brands.

Q2: What is the most important factor in your purchasing decisions for HVAC materials?

A1: Mike says that the very most important quality to him is the quality of the material. Sure, you can get a super cheap roll of tape but that roll probably won’t stick for long and just fall right off. Tape is a product that shouldn’t ever set a company over their budget.

A2:  Gerry said quality to him is the most important factor in his purchasing decisions. He likes a tape that will last for a long time. With cheaper tapes, the quality is never there, and you end up having to redo it all later.

 

Q3:  Do you ever try new brands of the products you use or are you satisfied with what you have?

A1: Mike will go by word of mouth when it comes to trying different brands. If someone he knows, and trusts says they have had great luck with a brand then he is going to test it out for himself.

A2: Gerry has always stuck with the Shurtape brand because it has always been the most reliable for him while working on different jobs and he knows its reliability.

 

Q4: Are there any other factors that impact the products and materials that you use for HVAC work?

A1: Reliability and how easy the product is to buy at supply shops are some more factors that impact Mike’s choice while doing HVAC work.

A2: Gerry said that for LEED and other green jobs that you might have to look for locally sourced products and materials.

Mike and Gerry had fairly similar responses during the interview. Both looked heavily for which products have the highest quality material and last the longest over time. Mike likes to listen to fellow industry people when they hear of other reliable brands while Gerry only likes to use the one reliable brand for all his HVAC jobs. If I ran my own HVAC business, then I would search for a brand that I know takes pride in their product and is always looking for improvement because with that then comes reliability and quality.

 

Chris: Choose Products You can Trust

I interviewed Carter Pitts of Economy Air in Opelika, AL, and Adam Miranda, who owns an HVAC business in Fairhope, AL.

Q1: Do you have certain brands of HVAC materials and tapes that you choose over others?

CP: No. As long as it is good quality because I’m ocd! I’m not afraid to try products.

AM: The only thing that matters when we buy foil tape is buy the UL listed stuff always. Can’t use the non UL per code. Alabama power did a demo one time where they lit UL and non UL tape on fire and non UL burns so fast it’s scary. We always use the same brand of electrical tape. We never go cheap on electrical tape. There are no other materials and tapes I use that I am brand conscious about.

 

Q2: What is the most important factor in your purchasing decisions for HVAC materials?

CP: Quality over anything! I do like buying bundles and getting discounts. Quality is what separates good from best.

AM: Most important is always quality. We charge a lot of money and sub par materials will not work. Convenience sometimes causes us to buy things we don’t normally use but it’s not worth the trip to go find the exact materials at another supply house. Rounding up materials for jobs is time consuming and frustrating sometimes.

 

Q3: Do you ever try new brands of the products you use or are you satisfied with what you have?

CP: I’ve learned to try different brands due to new technologies and different applications. For instance, I’m a fan of the film tape I just hate the tearing process.

AM: We use new stuff all the time even when satisfied already with another brand or product. Most times it’s a salesman we like who will talk us into trying new products. We sometimes find new brands we like and sometimes we just make a mistake and should have stuck with the product we were most familiar with.

 

Q4: Are there any other factors that impact the products and materials that you use for HVAC work?

CP: Recognition from the manufacturers. Also, I wish they would do training on all the types of tape because you would be surprised how many contractors don’t know how to apply it, also I’d like them to come in variety packs.

AM: Other tech input is crucial. Guys at a supply house or coworkers can help guide in the buying process. I have recently had an issue with aluminum leaks and asked around after many failures with a certain brand of aluminum brazing and others have given me a new kit to try that should be a lot easier when everyone had good success in past.