Visits – MATC and CVTC

Visit to Technical Colleges

For two days now, I have been spending time with the HVAC students at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire, WI and Milwaukee Area Technical College in Oak Creek, WI. Each year, I am fortunate enough to be invited back to these schools and many others in Wisconsin. I am delighted to see a continued interest in the skilled trades as we enter an era where it is difficult to find skilled labor.

My goal is to continue in educating these future HVAC technician hopefuls on why this is such a rewarding industry and what they should expect when they hit the road as an HVAC technician.

Several topics that we discussed in depth were related to air flow, combustion analysis and education. One goal that I am trying to hit home is the importance of airflow coupled with proper static duct pressures and the monitoring of combustion flue properties.

At one point in the presentation an instructor from MATC made it very clear to all of the students at this seminar that combustion analysis is very important. I couldn’t agree more. In all of our HVAC businesses we provide our technicians with the correct tools needed to perform combustion analysis of residential boilers and furnaces. One company that I personally believe is an industry leader in combustion analysis test instruments is the Bacharach Company.

We are in a technologically advanced environment today where furnaces, air conditioners and boilers are subject to failure, lost efficiency and a loss of comfort when they are not set up or maintained properly. My hope is that by having this discussion early in the careers of these students that when they reach the field of heating and cooling that they will already have an understanding of this importance.

Next week, I will be in Madison and Wausau to continue working with future HVAC technicians. It’s time we change the HVAC industry through training and education. I’m very excited for the future of HVAC.


If you are an instructor of an HVAC program feel free to contact me about scheduling a training seminar at your school.



Education… The ingredient of Safety

Education does matter

Why education matters.

For several years, I was that technician out in a truck servicing furnaces, air conditioners and boilers all over Wisconsin. I had some fears along the way with one being incompetence. I worried that I would make a mistake or miss something that was valuable to my customers. This fear results from pride that many blue collar skilled workers carry with them each day.

Pride is okay when it comes to serving customers and doing your job well. I was one of those techs. Often times my technicians get upset with me because I care about details, safety and I care about quality. I won’t settle for anything less!

I never wanted to screw up. I cared! When I started Mr. Holland’s Heating and Air Conditioning in 1997, I made it very clear that we will invest in the right tools, state of the art technology and training so that our techs never have to be faced with the fear of looking like an uneducated HVAC service tech. For you owners out there… the fastest way to hurt a technician’s confidence and break his morale is by not getting him trained. I speak with technicians all over the country and I hear the same story over and over… “my boss never spends any money on education or training”.

Education matters because you want highly skilled universal technicians that carry pride in what they do coupled with a positive attitude. It also matters because homeowners that pay for heating and cooling repairs on their furnace or air conditioners expect it. The insurance companies love it because it reduces workers compensation claims and liability issues.

Want a safe HVAC company? Train your people and get them the tools that they need to be good at their job. Here’s a video of a company that was performing tune ups and missing a very important step.

Click Here to Watch Video



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Why do heat exchangers fail?

Heat exchangers fail for a number of reasons. Here’s a brief run down that will help you as a technician or a homeowner.


A furnace heat exchanger serves mainly two purposes.

1. Purpose number one is to keep exhaust fumes from entering your home via the air stream. Safety.

2. To absorb the energy from the burned fuel. Then it is moved from the metal heat exchanger to the building via a duct system. The blower moves air across the heat exchanger thus exchanging the heat from the furnace to the house. Efficiency and comfort.

Picture of a heat exchanger

Why do Heat Exchangers Fail?

1.   Lack of airflow is the number reason. Result of a poorly sized duct system, oversized furnace, dirty filters, dirty coil or a dirty secondary coil.

2.   Manufacturers poor design

3.   Poor installation

4.   Lack of regular routine maintenance

5.   Oversized or over fired furnace

6.   Age. Furnaces will wear out. That’s a fact.


Why all the buzz about failed heat exchangers?

Most companies will tell you that it’s because you can get sick or die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Though, this is possible it is less likely today as the newer furnaces are designed with more safety controls and most likely will shut down under a failure. However, heat exchangers fail in a number of ways thus the safety concern is no longer the only concern.

Here is a list of concerns regarding a failed heat exchanger.

1.  Safety. Failed heat exchangers can cause an unsafe situation.

2. Comfort. A failed heat exchanger can cause the furnace to run a different cycle time. This can cause comfort issues.

3. Efficiency. With the unstable costs of energy a plugged or malfunctioning heat exchanger can gobble up your money. It’s no different than running the water if you pay a municipal sewer and water bill. You are purchasing a fuel to heat your home. If the heat exchanger is not absorbing the heat correctly this can cause an increase in your utility bill.

4. Other failures. If your secondary heat exchanger is plugged this will cause additional wear on your blower motor causing more electrical consumption and may cause a premature failure of the motor.


What are the most common heat exchanger failures?

1.   Cracks, fractures, pitting, holes and ruptures

2.   Hot spots, warping, bulges and heat stress

3.   Plugging, corroded or sooted

4.   Manufacturers defects or poor engineering

Picture of a cracked heat exchanger

Picture of a hole in a heat exchanger

Picture of a plugged secondary

Picture of a corroded secondary

What’s the best way to protect my furnace?

1. Have it serviced – PROPERLY!

2. Change or clean your filters

3. Maintenance

Picture of a badly plugged evaporator coil

Picture of a badly plugged air filter

Picture of a dirty secondary coil

Picture of a dirty blower wheel

Written by: Steve Holland of


Steve Holland is a 25 year industry veteran and owns several Heating and Air Conditioning Companies in Wisconsin. Mr. Holland’s Heating and Air. Bloedel’s Heating and Cooling. Holland Heating and Air Conditioning. Steve is a featured speaker at many tech schools in Wisconsin and is available for training, conversation and a host of other business growth and development topics.


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Heat Exchanger Lab

Heat Exchanger Safety

Heat Exchanger Safety is designed strictly as an educational and informative place for homeowners and service technicians to find information regarding furnace heat exchangers. If you would like to learn more or book Steve Holland for a training event use the contact us section.

Best Regards,