Hot Water Service


Old 02-15-14, 06:33 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 2,846
Hot Water Service

In my local area, served mainly by natural gas, I'd bet that there hasn't been a new residence built in the last 40 years with hot-water heat. It's now mostly all forced-air heat (which I've had before and don't prefer). Most of the hot-water heat in our area was installed decades ago, some converted from steam, and most of the service people who really understand it are now retired or worse.

If you have hot-water heat around hereabouts, and are not a DIYer, or a friend of one, you are likely S.O.L. To me, just the lack of available service may spell the eventual doom for the future of hot-water heat. Of course, there are many self-proclaimed HVAC "techs" everywhere that will claim to do everything, most particularly sell replacement boilers. Areas that do not have natural gas available may be slower in this trend, I suppose. But, look at the glut of natural gas coming from fracking in North Dakota, etc.

On this forum alone, there seem to be many posts complaining about incompetent, or worse, "hot-water heating" techs. Seemingly, there is no independent certification of such "techs"? Maybe anybody who styles himself as a "tech" should be automatically suspected? I think the "profession" needs to clean itself up.

Last edited by gilmorrie; 02-15-14 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 02-18-14, 04:47 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Toronto
Posts: 1,174
Can't comment for you guys, but up here there is a ton of new hot water installations.
Most natural gas, some propane.

Your right about the HVAC industry, we have many people in the forced air industry that work from their trucks. This makes it very tough for larger (but not big) companies to compete. These new techs just sell boxes and do installs. They have driven down the prices on hot air furnaces to a point where there is very little money left in there to even do one service call should there need to be one. The quality of installation obviously has fallen as these guys will try to install 2 systems a day.
This forces traditional tradesmen to seek higher profit markets, one of these such markets is the hot water heating side of things. This unfortunately introduces poorly trained (at hot water) techs into the hydronic heating world. Now, we have to price against guys who don't understand whats involved to install and complete a proper system, many systems getting left for dead not 100% functional.
Home owners now are left with a mess on there hands and blame the industry as a whole.
It's a pretty nasty circle, techs want to make more money so the good ones charge more. Newcomers get into the field seeing good return for their time, but they don't have the skills.
Jobs get messed up, and left unfinished and it taints the industry.

I hope that hot water heat never dies out, it's a very good source of comfortable, efficient heat.
I would not want a forced air system installed in my home by some of these new tradesmen.
Old 02-18-14, 12:51 PM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: nj
Posts: 576
its not going to clean itself up. unfortunately people are told its a good field to get into because you can make decent money and even more if your run your own business. However, not many people care too much about customer service. Its sad but true.
Old 02-18-14, 04:07 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Toronto
Posts: 1,174
Sadly regulation will enevitably come in to play.
So, at that, the good guys get even more overhead and administration costs.

Since there is no real enforcement, who is going to regulate the new regulations.

Up here (in Ontario) we have so much regulation that the government spends millions on enforcement. That comes from tax payers pockets.
They cannot be effective enough to really make a difference, simply due to the number of contractors involved.
We have acts (laws) for this and that and the other things. We even have a public transportation act which needs to be enforced.. We love that word up here (well the gov. does). It's all just meaningless really, because they will never have enough officers to make a difference. So they just focus on the most heavily populated areas where they can catch as many people as possible, smart I suppose.

The change really needs to happen though education and the peers, rules and regulations are NOT the solution, ever. We need to police ourselves and weed out the trash. Customers need to be educated on what they are buying, and with the internet that is happening, but there is still a lot of misleading stuff on here. Customers need to stop feeding the lowest priced trade and ask questions and understand what they are buying. That will help get ride of a lot of the poorer tradesmen. Contractors need a forum to educate new coming contractors and ensure that they don't sell a job too cheap ,then either cut corners or loose money. You don't want your contractor that you just paid 10,000 dollars to folding up and closing because he did not make any money.
If a guy is willing to finish the job correctly, even though he losses money... this is a contractor we want to keep around. At least he is willing to do the job correctly.

I think I could make a novel of this, so I am gonna stop here.
Sorry for the rant
Old 02-19-14, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 400
Good points made here. I agree that hydronic heating is in many ways a separate animal than hot air heating, and that there should be specific standards and qualifications for each "field".

But one of the complications that comes with that, of course, is that many heating and cooling systems are of a "hybrid" type necessitating that the installer/servicer have at least some knowledge of both. In such cases, the question then boils down to: should this person be required to qualify for and maintain two (or more) separate licenses?

As most professionals know, there is time and money tied up in any licensing process. On that same point, I've had several heating/cooling contractors lament to me that the state of CT has maybe gone a little too far in trying to address this issue - there are 20 or so different types of licenses relating to the heating and cooling trade(s) alone:

DCP: Heating, Piping and Cooling License Types and Scope of Work

Keep in mind the licenses shown in the above link are not plumbing licenses, of which there are several types:

DCP: Plumbing Licenses and Scope of Work

So I think the big challenge is, how to properly and fairly differentiate between the levels of knowledge and skill required for the many different types of installations/repairs that contractors are asked to perform everyday out in the real world.
Old 02-19-14, 08:30 AM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: nj
Posts: 576
Here in New Jersey, starting march 1st will be the grandfathering period for the newly implemented hvac License. I'm very excited about this, hoping that a lot of the moon lighters and unprofessional contractors get washed out. It's very easy to get the grandfathering but after that 6 month period it's supposed to be an extremely hard license to achieve. So for now, this license won't mean much but down the road it will.

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