HVAC Emergency Service (Podcast)

HVAC Emergency Service

If your HVAC equipment stops working, you need emergency services. Service partner members jump to the front of the line when they need an emergency repair. Listen to the podcast to learn more.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher, and I’m here today with Brett Rogenski, General Manager of N.E.T.R., Inc, a heating and cooling company in Massachusetts with a focus on Mitsubishi ductless heating and cooling products. Today we’re talking about emergency services. Welcome, Brett.

Brett Rogenski: Hey, thanks a lot, John.

What Qualifies as an HVAC Emergency?

John: Sure. So Brett, what types of situations qualify as HVAC emergencies and what are some of the most common scenarios that N.E.T.R. sees in terms of urgent repair needs?

Brett: Sure. So the things that we see most frequently and that we consider emergencies are, let’s face it, an emergency is a little different to everyone. But no heating in the winter is certainly what’s something that we consider an emergency, and most homeowners consider an emergency. So it’s two degrees outside and I have no source of heat. So certainly no heat is something that we consider an emergency.

And in the summer, particularly anytime in the summer really, but particularly during a heatwave, we will certainly take no cooling situations as an emergency. Again, because sometimes that either of those situations can be life or property-threatening. So we certainly take no cooling in the summer and no heating in the winter very seriously as emergencies and so do most homeowners.

HVAC Helps Protect Your Property and Family

John: Yeah. And certainly in the winter you’re not just worried about your own comfort, you’re worried about the pipes freezing if the temperature in the house gets down to a certain temperature. I know I live with my mother and father-in-law in a big house and there’s a lot of people in that sort of situation as well.

Maybe they have elderly people living in the house and they can’t take those very cold temperatures like a younger person might be able to. Especially, like you said, in the wintertime when you have no heat, that can definitely be an emergency situation.

Brett: Yeah, yeah. And when we’re thinking about no heat situations, yeah, it’s exactly it. When I say property, we’re worried about people’s pipes freezing. We’re worried about particularly older folks or young children, their ability to deal with the cold in the home. So it’s not just comfort for people, it can be life-threatening.

And also in the summer, the opposite can happen. We get heat waves where the daytime low is 90 or excuse me, the nighttime low is 90. And that can be very difficult, maybe for people who have health issues, elderly folks, and again, young children. So again, we take all of those issues very seriously.

What to Do If You Have an HVAC Emergency

John: So what steps should homeowners take if they experience an HVAC emergency, especially if it’s maybe outside of the regular business hours?

Brett: Sure. Well, there’s a few things that a homeowner can do on their own, which is check their breaker panel. If they have access to it to go look, see if the breaker for their heating or cooling is tripped. Also, a visual inspection of the unit. “Is there something obviously wrong? Hey, a tree branch fell on my outdoor condenser for my cooling,” something like that. So some basic visual stuff.

What we don’t want people to do is to get in there and start trying to figure out how to repair it themselves. Obviously, with heating systems, that can be dangerous. There’s electricity in there, gas, oil, whatever the situation is. And cooling is obviously an electric function, but there’s also lines carrying refrigerant in there that can be damaged. So some basic stuff, checking the breakers, making sure there’s no obvious something happened, there’s physical damage.

It also helps us determine if someone calls us, if they can tell us what’s going on with the unit, “Hey, the power keeps going off. I keep resetting that breaker and it keeps kicking off every time the unit tries to go on.” That tells us a little something so that sort of information can help us navigate what that customer will need.

NETR Emergency Response Team

John: And can you describe the N.E.T.R. Emergency Response Team and talk a little bit about how they’re coordinated?

Brett: Sure. So at N.E.T.R., we have a dedicated service team and a separate dedicated installation team. And that should be important to people because we have people who, first of all, their best skillset is diagnosing what is wrong with something and repairing it. That’s what they do all day, every day. And the second part is they’re not on a job installing someone’s air conditioner and someone has to make a choice about removing them from that to go service someone else.

So again, we have a dedicated team that all they do… current state I think we have 14 technicians who are full-time service and diagnostic technicians. They’re there to help fix people’s stuff or to clean it, service it, et cetera. So that’s the team and they’re dedicated, that’s all they do. We actually have on-call service 24 hours a day. So customers can reach out to us 24 hours a day, seven days a week if they feel they have an HVAC emergency, and request after hour service.

So when they speak with our after hour service, which is part of N.E.T.R., they’re going to ask them if this is an emergency, there’s a series of questions, and then they’ll ask them if they would like an emergency call out if they feel it’s necessary. Some folks do, some folks don’t, but if someone says yes, we’re going to at that point confirm some information with the customer, and we’re going to dispatch one of our on-call technicians. So 24 hours a day we have people who are technicians who are on call and ready to be dispatched to your home to address an emergency situation.

Challenges of Responding to an HVAC Emergency

John: And what are some of the unique challenges that technicians face when they’re responding to an urgent situation?

Brett: Great question. And there’s a lot of unique challenges. One of the most important challenges is you never know what you’re responding to. There’s a hundred reasons that your heating or your cooling system could stop working at 2:00 in the morning. So they have to be very good at doing diagnostics and very quickly figure out what are the two or three most likely issues, and then being able to quickly eliminate what is or is not working properly.

The other part is obviously access to what’s needed to repair that. So we carry a lot of very common repair parts on our trucks to be able to get people going again at 2:00 in the morning. But unfortunately the supply houses that we work with, they’re not open at 2:00 in the morning. So if we had to respond to your house so we keep a supply on the trucks of very common, frequently used items in repairs, but obviously we can’t stock everything we’d need a mobile supply house so we can’t do that.

So sometimes we have to go out, we do our best to get people going with what we have on the truck. And if there’s something that we just can’t overcome, we work with them on perhaps a temporary solution until we can get to that supply house when it opens at 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning, get the part they need to then come back and complete the repair.

So sometimes we can get people partial heating or partial cooling. Frequently, we can just make the repair. If we can’t make the repair, our goal is to get you at least some partial heating or cooling to alleviate the situation to get you through the rest of that evening or Sunday or whatever it is, until we can get everything we need to make a permanent solution for you.

Priority for Emergency HVAC Service

John: Okay. And how does N.E.T.R prioritize emergency service calls? Is it just first come, first serve? Are there any other factors that affect the speed or availability of emergency response?

Brett: Sure. I would tell you it’s two things that we use for prioritization. The first is our Service Partner program. Service Partner program is a membership program that we have where for an annual fee you become a member of our partner program, that also includes an annual tune-up on your equipment. And when Service Partner program members call in, they cut to the front of the list. So we prioritize them over folks who have chosen not to join the Service Partner program.

So the first thing in determining who moves to the front of the list if there are multiple calls at the same time is are they a Service Partner program member or not? The second part is we then take into effect is there any sort of life-threatening situation? Again, is this a home with elderly, disabled, young children and there’s a real threat about freezing or property disruption in that home?

Same thing in the summer. If someone loses their air conditioning and maybe it’s someone who has some health issues and that heat is too stressful for their body, we’re obviously going to work with those folks to move them to the front of the list. So folks who really need it from a health point of view, or if there’s concerns there, and our Service Partner program members all move to the front of the list.

How to Prevent HVAC Emergencies

John: Okay. And how can homeowners help to prevent HVAC emergencies from occurring in the first place? Are there any best practices that they should be following for maintenance and care of their heating and cooling systems?

Brett: Sure. So that’s a great question. And it really comes down to simple scheduled maintenance on your system and catching small things before they become big. That eliminates the largest majority of emergency calls. So if you have a conventional furnace, for instance, having that inspected and tuned in the fall before the heating season is huge. And we can hopefully find if there’s anything, first of all, we’ll get it working at its most efficient for you.

Second of all, if there’s something that’s starting to fail, we’re going to notate that. We’re going to bring it to your attention, give you the opportunity to repair or replace that at the time so that you’re not finding out that that part finally gives up the ghost at 2:00 in the morning in January.

So doing that annual preventive maintenance on heating systems, same thing on cooling systems. Have us come out in the spring, we will clean it, we will do preventive maintenance on it, we’ll check all the key items that are likely to be failing eventually, and make sure that they’re in good working order. And if they’re not in good working order, we’ll chat with you about what it would take to take care of that.

And then the other thing with that I would say specifically with our customers who do ductless for heating and cooling, ’cause for instance a low coal climate heat pump will take the place of your furnace and your air conditioner having that actually serviced twice a year. If you think about it, you would normally service your furnace in the fall, you’d service your air conditioner in the spring, your coal climate heat pump, which is doing the job of both of those items should get serviced twice a year, spring and fall as well.

So again, having us come out those twice a year, number one to clean it, get it working optimally. Number two, test everything, make sure it’s all working within factory specifications so that you’re not likely to suffer a failure. So that’s the best medicine.

Contact NETR, Inc to Learn More

John: That’s great advice, Brett, thanks again for speaking with me today.

Brett: I appreciate it. Thank you.John: And for more information, you can visit the N.E.T.R. website at netrinc.com or call 781-933-NETR. That’s 781-933-6387.