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The Essential Rob 'Doc' Falke: 15 of his Best Hotmail Articles

Aug. 20, 2020
If you haven’t already seen them, you should read them.

You can count on one hand the number of Hotmail authors who have been contributing content for more than three decades. Rob Falke is certainly one of them. Over the years, he has shared his hands-on approach to solving HVAC system comfort and efficiency issues, as well as providing his insight as to what HVAC technicians face in the field, then helping them overcome those obstacles.

He has always been a proponent of diving in and getting your hands dirty, whether it is diagnosing air pressure problems in ductwork or the impact of trends on the livelihoods of service and installation technicians, salespeople, and business owners across the country.

Here are 15 essential “Doc” articles that, if you haven’t already seen them, you should read them. If you have seen them, it is worth your time to read your favorite ones again. The lessons are timeless, and your team will benefit from them all.

So, without further ado, the following are some of Doc Falke’s best work for you to enjoy and learn from:

Air Filters: The Cause of Many IAQ ProblemsDid you know that air filters can be a source of indoor air problems? Excessive filter restriction to airflow can cause many undetected system defects. 'Doc' explains typical inadvertent air filter related IAQ problems, and how HVAC contractors can avoid and resolve them for their customers. This article is from 2019.

The American Dream – This is a timeless favorite written by Doc back in 2011. It is based on an interview he did with a young college student who wanted to know what the American Dream means in the HVAC Industry. Doc draws some interesting conclusions from that student’s questions and his resulting report that still has merit in 2020 and beyond. This is a great read.

Balancing a Zoned System – Doc explains the differences in balancing procedures between a constant volume and a zoned system and provides you a step-by-step method for balancing zoned systems.

Build Safety Clauses into Your ProposalsIt just makes good sense to include clauses in your proposals that protect you against things like how long the proposal is valid, the impact of change orders, scheduling issues, payment/financing issues, and mechanics liens to name just a few. From the Contracting Business archives, this article is based on Doc’s experience and what he hears from performance-based contractors around the country. There is nothing wrong with protecting yourself, he says.

The Evolution of the Definition of HVAC Efficiency – This one comes from 2012 and discusses the difference in how energy raters define efficiency versus how Performance-Based HVAC contractors do. Is it a matter of defining it based on industry design standards? Or does it have more to do with the actual installed performance of the system? Field testing verifies performance.

How to Calculate Air Changes and Air Exchanges Per Hour -- The topic of air changes is an extremely popular technical subject. In this 2020 article, "Doc" Falke takes a fresh look at air exchanges per hour based on recently increased needs (read that as COVID-19 Pandemic) for improved airflow in hospitals and other health-related settings. This is an important topic.

How to Find Hidden Duct Obstructions -- So, you discover a supply duct with reduced or no airflow coming out of the register. The fan is on, the damper is open, and the other registers have airflow. The obvious conclusion is a blocked duct. Doc addresses the challenge in finding the obstruction. He explains a test to do just that: find hidden duct blockage using a pressure gauge and correctly placed test ports.

HVAC Service Essentials: Test, Diagnose, Repair – This one examines a three-step process you can use to solve problems and better serve your customers than any of your competition. This is a must-read for every service technician, every service manager, and every company owner.

HVAC Technician Shortage Solutions and Opportunities – Based on his presentation at the AHR Exposition in January 2020, Doc addresses the ugly statistics regarding the HVAC Industry’s ability (or lack thereof) to attract young people into its ranks. He discusses not only the shortage and the ramifications to HVAC contractors across the nation but also the opportunities that do exist and why today’s contractors should lean into them.

Is Green Closing In On You? – Though this article is from 2008, its message remains valid in 2020. Doc addresses the changes that were happening in the HVAC Industry back then regarding environmentalism, “green systems,” “green technology,” and so on. If you are focused on Performance-Based Contracting™ today, the ideas in this article are more valid today than ever. You can prove you are helping customers achieve the highest efficiency and safest indoor environment through measuring, testing, and diagnosing issues, then solving them. We may not be bandying around the word “green” as much as it was back in 2008, but it still applies. Check this out.

Oversized and Underperforming Equipment – Another one from the archives, this article focuses on a study conducted in Iowa by one-time National Comfort Institute partner Energy Stewards International. Doc writes that this study found most HVAC systems in the state are oversized and just don’t perform as they should. Though written in 2010, the context here is still very applicable, especially if you are in the business of properly sizing systems and testing in/out to prove they perform as promised.  A must-read.

Retrofit HVAC System Design -- It’s estimated more than 80% of HVAC retrofit projects only replace the system’s equipment. Tradition dictates box swapping is good enough. Doc examines a different retrofit approach that offers more in the form of air delivery, comfort, and efficiency. He says that by doing this, you offer customers more value and they are willing to pay for that.

Unbalanceable Hydronic System Solutions – What happens when you encounter a Hydronics system that has no balancing valves and test ports? What do you do to bring that system back into spec so it provides the best comfort for your customer? In this article Doc shares how you CAN work with these sub-standard systems and provide your customers with choices based on inspection, start-up, and measuring. Can the unbalanceable be balanced? Doc has the answer here.

What Can You Do To Improve HVAC System Performance? – Doc based this article on a frequently asked question he receives from contractors who attend his classes and seminars. That question is, “if there was just one thing I could do for each system to improve performance the most, what would it be?" In this article, he addresses that question based on the “asker’s” specific role in the industry.

Who Does the Real Work in the HVAC Industry? – Uh oh … Are we getting ready to take the gloves off? Not at all. Doc looks at how the HVAC systems you install are products based on the efforts and contributions of many dedicated industry professionals. He shares just who these folks are, from manufacturing to design and installation.

Rob “Doc” Falke serves the industry as president of National Comfort Institute, Inc., an HVAC-based training company and membership organization. You can contact Doc at ncilink.com/ContactMe or call him at 800-633-7058. Go to NCI’s website at nationalcomfortinstitute.com for free information, articles, and downloads.