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where do I start?

luketheplumber
luketheplumber Member Posts: 134
edited April 2020 in THE MAIN WALL
I've been here for over a year reading on this website and have learned quite a bit from here i am 17 and want to get into the steam ind hydronic heating trades once i graduate high school I am wondering what are your recommendations to get in
I'm in durham nc so i dont see to many boilers here but i plane to move up north. I have been working as a plumber apprentice seance i was 16 and plan to switch to a company that also does hvac. recently i have talked with an electrician about working with him on the weekends previously I would go around my neighborhood re roping old windows an the old homes in my neighborhood i have been into construction all my life
what are your tips on getting in maybe one of you guys might need an apprentice in 2 years
I just earned my GED and am looking for a apprenticeship with one of these steam gurus on this site!
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Comments

  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,027
    I like your enthusiasm.
    If I were you're age, with what I know now, I would DM and then send a resume to, one of the awesome steam guru's on this site (there are a number) and ask them if they are looking for an apprentice.
    If you want to do hydronics, and especially steam that's where I would start.
    You could supplement it with a trade school, but these guru's have specialized knowledge and a love of the trade-no better place to learn and grow. Plus these guys have knowledge they should (must) pass on to the next generation of highly motivated future tradesman.
    steve
    luketheplumberdelta TRich_49Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes Member Posts: 2,840
    edited April 2020
    That's exciting for us old guys to see people like you enthused about the trades. It's few and far between these days.

    Get one of Dan Holohan's books available on this website on either steam or hot water heating. If you are like the rest of us, you'll buy and read more of them. I'd start with Classic Hydronics.

    I checked "Find A Contactor" on this website and also the Viessmann boiler website for qualified contractors in your area, but none were listed. You may have to cast north for work once this CV pandemic is over. You are at a good age to start learning.
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
    SuperTechdelta TluketheplumberSolid_Fuel_Man
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,197
    Hi @luketheplumber , I'll add that there is a lot of good info on this site at System Help Center, and of course, Dan's books. After that I'd go to www.addall.com and search for used books about whatever you're interested in. The old books will give you a really useful perspective on the trade and the equipment. I'll just say that to be really good in this or any other trade, you need to know the tech stuff, but also the people side of things along with the business part. What makes people tick? What problems can you solve for them? The business is about a lot more than crunching numbers. There are some very good books here on that side of things. If you can soak up all that info and have fun, life will be good!

    Yours, Larry
    delta T
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,320
    Depending on where you move. Getting your state/area license is the way to go.
    Serving a apprentice ship, and working in the trade you chose will help to get you that license.
    Look to your state and local agencies to see the requirements.

    I like your good attitude. Its the best thing anyone can have. Especially some one your age just starting out.
    delta T
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,256
    delta T said:

    Aside from what is mentioned above, read, read, and read some more. As mentioned above, The Lost Art of Steam Heating is a great resource for steam systems. I'll add Modern Hydronic Heating by John Siegnethaler (3rd edition) for a wealth of info on radiant systems and more modern boilers. Caleffi also has a great technical journal, (up to 26 volumes I think) that is free:

    https://www.caleffi.com/usa/en-us/technical-magazine

    Never, and I do mean NEVER, stop looking for more knowledge, and never assume you know everything, and you will go far.

    Best of luck to you!

    You can also look for older editions of Modern Hydronic Heating(and other books). The basics are the same, the older edition will be much less expensive.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,256
    I'd also put in a plug for thinking about finding a way to get a mechanical engineering degree and figuring out how to work with those in the trade so you can bridge the engineering and the practical side of it.
    Intplm.CLambdelta T
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,808
    mattmia2 said:

    delta T said:

    Aside from what is mentioned above, read, read, and read some more. As mentioned above, The Lost Art of Steam Heating is a great resource for steam systems. I'll add Modern Hydronic Heating by John Siegnethaler (3rd edition) for a wealth of info on radiant systems and more modern boilers. Caleffi also has a great technical journal, (up to 26 volumes I think) that is free:

    https://www.caleffi.com/usa/en-us/technical-magazine

    Never, and I do mean NEVER, stop looking for more knowledge, and never assume you know everything, and you will go far.

    Best of luck to you!

    You can also look for older editions of Modern Hydronic Heating(and other books). The basics are the same, the older edition will be much less expensive.
    Shop the online bookstores, I've found used textbooks for a fraction of the new price. Amazon usually has a few used sellers listed on every book.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Intplm.
  • luketheplumber
    luketheplumber Member Posts: 134
    Thank you for all of the help I have brought several of Dan's books like the lost art and we got steam heat I have been enjoying these in my spare time my plan is to keep working on plumbing, hvac and electrical for now once I graduate high school I am planning on finding an apprenticeship up north maybe with one you you guys I've learned so much in plumbing by just working with the guys for the past year and I'm truly enjoying it I'm hesitant about college after hearing all about these student loans I just don't think it's the best path to get into debt as soon as I leave the nest
    I just earned my GED and am looking for a apprenticeship with one of these steam gurus on this site!
    BillyORich_49GroundUpdelta T
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,575
    What area up North are you thinking ? Maybe someone will start a conversation with you dependent on their location and where you are thinking of .
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    732-751-1560
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
    GroundUp
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes Member Posts: 2,840
    edited April 2020
    Education is very important. Not only for learning the main subject you choose, but for other required subjects like math, science and English. They will be very useful throughout your life.
    I went to school for a degree in horticulture (fruit and nut production) because I wanted to be a farmer. Things changed and I got into the trades, but without a rounded education, I don't think I would be where I am now.
    A friend of mine has a son that got his college education free. He searched online for grants and scholarships in his field of interest (there are many) and applied for them. He also had to fill out of a FIFSA application about his parents income and he received financial aid for a full education at UC Berkeley.
    Keep your wits about you; common sense isn't that common. Stay away from drugs, tobacco and alcohol and nurture your imagination. I wish I were 17 again.
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
    luketheplumbermattmia2Rich_49
  • luketheplumber
    luketheplumber Member Posts: 134
    Rich_49 said:

    What area up North are you thinking ? Maybe someone will start a conversation with you dependent on their location and where you are thinking of .

    haven't decided on exactly where i would want to go I'm thinking somewhere in the new England area due to having family in that area but I am open to any area where i can get an apprenticeship and learn more about steam and hydronic heating
    I just earned my GED and am looking for a apprenticeship with one of these steam gurus on this site!
  • It wouldn't be the first time. : )
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
    Intplm.Solid_Fuel_Man
  • luketheplumber
    luketheplumber Member Posts: 134
    edited April 2020
    I probably wouldn't do too well in California
    durham is liberal enough for me

    oh did i mention that I love myself a good crawlspace!
    I just earned my GED and am looking for a apprenticeship with one of these steam gurus on this site!
    Alan (California Radiant) ForbesSolid_Fuel_Man
  • PerryHolzman
    PerryHolzman Member Posts: 234
    mattmia2 said:

    I'd also put in a plug for thinking about finding a way to get a mechanical engineering degree and figuring out how to work with those in the trade so you can bridge the engineering and the practical side of it.

    I'm going to disagree with this: I have a Mechanical Engineering degree... and the reality is that very little of it applies to home and industrial heating. You are likely to get sidetracked into something else - without the same long term job prospects. Only 25% of BSME's (mechanical engineers) are working in engineering after 10 years. That's been true for decades.

    I learned most of what I know related to steam and hot water heating working for the local coal delivery company who also cleaned and repaired coal fired boilers and furnaces, then being a Machinist Mate in the US Navy (maintain and operate a steam propulsion system, with an emphasis on instrumentation and control); and finally working in Power Plants and heavily involved in maintenance while I was in College and after I graduated with my BSME. In the 36 years since graduation I have only worked as an Engineer 22 years. The other years I have had to do other things (all very non-engineering); and currently I am doing non engineering.

    My advice is to stick to an apprenticeship route. Read the books recomended by others on this site. Get hands on experience and personal training from one of the masters in the field. I'd say it's even worth relocating to another state to apprentice with a master who really knows steam and hot water heating.

    Take some extra math classes along the way so that you can do advanced algebra; and then do a little home study (or isolated classes) on the equations that describe combustion, heat transfer, and flow. That will give you the basic engineering you need at a fraction of the cost and time, while you learn your real trade.

    My other advice is to protect your hands and arms and take care of your long term health (adopt a healthy lifestyle now - and keep it up). Learn to be cautious. Your career as a heating technician depends on your good health and mobility.

    I wish you the best,

    Perry
    Larry WeingartenluketheplumberAlan (California Radiant) ForbesSuperTech
  • unclejohn
    unclejohn Member Posts: 1,726
    You will for sure work for at least 5 or 6 different companies as you start out. Just get your foot in the door, driving the truck, stocking the trucks or the stock room [ good place to learn what the heck that part is ] soon enough if you show up on time everyday they will need a helper on a job. Watch and learn, make your self useful after a while you will get fired, don't worry you now have that magic called experience. My first job ended the summer of 1974 and I was told to seek employment outside the trade because I would never make it in it. I'm sure that had something too do with tracking roof tar across the office carpet but we all make mistakes. So with good ole sticktoitofness I lasted another 40 some years and my second employer paid for my schooling. Good old ABC school those were good days or should I say nights 3 hours 7 to 10 pm. I think I will have a toast to days when all you needed on your truck was R-12 R-22 and R-502 and some R-500 at the shop.
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,193
    For sure you will want to get as much electrical training as you can. With most of these new heating systems, there are a lot of issues that are electrical related. You don't necessarily need electronics training, but basic troubleshooting skills are a must.
    Rick
    SuperTechdelta TSolid_Fuel_Man
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,256
    Some basic understanding of how microprocessor controls work and of electronics would be really helpful.
    delta T
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,135
    don't try and set the world on fire in the beginning years, just be a sponge. Try to upstage your higher-ups and you'll bug them out. Gotta pay your dues as they say. If you're good, you'll be able to start running stuff at 3 years. If you want to rock, here are some things, no particular order: be presentable, don't dress or look like a mule. Communicate well- you could be in the top 5 percentile with tools and installing/service, but if you struggle to speak well, you'll fizzle and settle into mid-tier. Work hard, and this isn't easily tangible--you don't have to be a work-o-holic (well you kinda do actually), but if you're an 8 hour a day guy, you'll settle into mid tier. Don't be dumb with money- spend more than you make and the even the mid tier folks will scoff at you. This may catch me some flak, but diversify. I was a master plumber at age 21 but I haven't plumbed squat in the last 12 years. You've got plumbing and all of its disciplines. You've got hydronic heating and all of its disciplines. You've got HVAC, you see where I'm going? Some heating guys can't do control wiring, others love it. It takes 10 years to be a super pro at each of these 'disciples', less if you're way above average and can get super pros to feed you info. Being a super pro at one thing has its advantages, you're the smartest guy in town. Being diversified keep cash flow happy, just takes more years to learn all the different stuff. The more you learn, the more dough you can expect, and- you know how to 'stay out of trouble'. Best of luck to you
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
    Intplm.SuperTech
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,257
    I will second most of what has been said. I'll add that controls and the electrical end of things is where I see that vast majority lacks. If you are decent at that, you will never lack for work. Pipe fitting and workmanship will always come into play no matter what you do. A true tradesman is well rounded in their skill and has a good understanding of the other trades so that he can work with, not against them.

    We all know the story where the plumber cut a 4.5" hole in every 2x8 floor joist to run his soil pipe. Dont be that guy.

    I'll also echo fruits&nuts @Alan (California Radiant) Forbes stay away from drugs and alcohol. They only lead to the exact opposite of everything I wrote above.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbesdelta TSuperTechluketheplumber
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,425
    I branched into HVAC, plumbing and refrigeration after becoming self employed in a rural area.
    My first trade (with schooling) was electrical.

    That was very helpful for HVACR as a large percentage of problems are electrical control.

    I have followed other HVACR people and it became clear that many were short on control wiring understanding.
    And from reading on this site many boiler installs with problem go back to controls.
    You will need to understand gas burner controls, many basic boiler burners operate similar to furnaces.
    delta Tmattmia2luketheplumber
  • luketheplumber
    luketheplumber Member Posts: 134
    I am staying far away from drugs. I have worked with people who have been recovering addicts for 20 years. they have told me how they still get cravings for the drug they did over 20 years ago. I am staying the hell away from anything like that. i knew a buddy of mine burn down a nightclub and i heard he was on something when he did it. i feel sorry for that guy he was a bright intelligent friend who ruined his whole life in a single night.

    I am planing to switch companys once this pandemic is over due to them not having enough reliable work and I want to go from just learning plumbing to hvac too.
    how much should i expect to be payed for an apprenticeship?
    I just earned my GED and am looking for a apprenticeship with one of these steam gurus on this site!
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,320
    @luketheplumber . Cant really discuss the all mighty $$$$ here. Its against sight rules.
    One thing you can do is put in a google search for pay rate in your area. This can usually give you a good idea. Try, "plumbers helper pay scale," and see what comes up.
    luketheplumber
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,650
    @luketheplumber If possible I would highly recommend an apprenticeship with a union company. That way just as long as you are working and attending classes you will get pay raises every year. The benefits can't be beat either. Unfortunately these opportunities aren't available in most areas, due to the decline of unions in the trades.

    Of course if you are skilled, hard working and have a good attitude, good pay should go along with it.
    luketheplumbercoby
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,257
    I disagree with working for a union, for reasons I will not discuss on here.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    cobyBillyO
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,650
    edited April 2020
    > @Solid_Fuel_Man said:
    > I disagree with working for a union, for reasons I will not discuss on here.

    I don't want to get into a union/non union debate. Both have pro's and cons. I won't get into the cons. I'm no longer a union member, but the apprenticeship I went through was an awesome opportunity for me. I'm glad I moved on from my first HVAC employer, working for different companies was a big part of my growth as a service tech.
    Solid_Fuel_ManPaul Polletscoby
  • luketheplumber
    luketheplumber Member Posts: 134
    sorry about bringing up $$$ my bad.
    hopefully this bat flue will pass by summer, my house is feeling more and more like a cage with every passing day.
    I just earned my GED and am looking for a apprenticeship with one of these steam gurus on this site!
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,197
    Hi @luketheplumber , This is a perfect time to get your hands on some of the books mentioned and have at! Actually anything that Dan H wrote can transport you. For a vacation from the tech stuff, get some of his novels. o:) So, even if you can't escape the cage, it can be gold plated! Ever hear the tale of the child who walks into a room full of horse poo? He says, "There must be a pony in here someplace!"

    Yours, Larry
    Solid_Fuel_Manluketheplumber
  • garyanderson
    garyanderson Member Posts: 10
    Young man, I would listen to all of these Posts, I was in the same boat as you 30 years ago, I now own a Non Union mechanical business in the Southern Maryland ,Washington D.C area, we deal in the steam and Hydronic business as well as the NEW age of VRF systems. I can tell you reading and listening to fellas in these posts is where I received my inspiration. I have read every book and been to every seminar Dan Holohan has presented, so I owe him immensely . We are always looking for Young ,Driven people to bring into the family, so if you ever decide to not go too far from home, look us up. Best of luck.

    Gary Anderson
    Gary Anderson Mechanical sERVICES
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbesluketheplumber
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,399
    Union training happens in larger cities. If you don't have access to the training centers, it's nearly impossible to take classes, as well as work. Learning without proper training has its limitations. You can read and absorb as much as you can, having a mentor to show you the ropes and share proper diagnostics of systems is an important part of field work. There is and will continue to be, an extreme shortage of trained mechanics. The armed services also has excellent training programs and the advantages of being a veteran.
    luketheplumber
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,425
    edited April 2020
    Luke, while cleaning my office I came across a book I think would do you a lot of good.......I can't part with mine yet though.

    It is "Flame Safeguard Controls"....A Honeywell Text book
    # 71-97558. Mine is from 1989 I think.
    Google that number, you can read it on line. Offered for sale for $44.00. There should be plenty around as HW gave them out for their control classes.

    Not only controls but it covers combustion, burners, flame rods, gas valves and valve trains. A lot of info that is easy reading.
    Covers some larger old school stuff but good for basics.
    And there is probably a shortage of people who know about "old school" equipment.

    Maybe someone here has one they would part with??
    mattmia2
  • @JUGHNE: Isn't there something more current?
    Often wrong, never in doubt.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,425
    Yes, as I Googled that number a newer version also showed up.
    But for Luke IMO, I believe that even an old edition such as this one would give him a lot of basic info.

    I have noticed that newer study guides might skip over basics assuming you already know them or don't think them relevant.
    True this book does not cover the latest Safeguard such as the 7800 series, but knowing how the previous series worked helped me in rewiring for the new replacement.
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
  • Jackmartin
    Jackmartin Member Posts: 180
    I am an old guy and you are not going to like what I am going to say. Number One go to school and finish grade 12 you are painting yourself into a corner, what happens if you become injured this a physical job. Number two you gave to have a good reading ability, you have to keep reading over the entire length of your career We have too many people in this business that use ' magical thinking' they think they know how things work because they imagine how they work, but in actuality they haven't got a clue. Number Three get as much education as you can in electrical and electronics the time for old dinasaurs like me is past, this trade is just going to get more complicated. I applaud your work ethic, but not your way if going about your life. At the ripe old age of 17 you know what you want to do for the next 45 years? Son, give yourself options, get the best education you can and if you are still interested in the trade do it the correct way, go to trade school for a year or two and learn the theory about how things work, then get a job ,shut up and listen, but always ask yourself is this what I was taught in school. The practical things in the trade come by doing the knowledge part of the trade is hard academic work. I read your post, you have a very poor grasp in written english, that will be a stumpling block for you into old age --- go to school and fix it now while you are young.I am in University for my second degree at the old age of 68, I am majoring in mathematics ,if some old phart like me can go to school so can you. Be Well and Be Blessed Jack
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbesmattmia2luketheplumber
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,425
    I believe and certainly hope Luke will finish high school.
    Also his writing skills and grammar are most likely consistent for his age group.
    Jack, you and I may have had more emphasis put on writing and grammar than today's high school students.
    I did not pay the attention that I should have and am a little handicapped in this area.
    Texting and E-mails with the new "shorthand" has diminished the English language.

    It would behoove him to get above that curse.
    There are still employers who appreciate the art of writing and speaking well.....not "ya know" sentences.

    I do not think he needs a 4 year collage degree to learn this.
    But rather listen to and read of well versed people....such as Dan.
    luketheplumberSuperTech
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,256
    I really learned more about how English worked when I learned German than I did in English classes. You need to learn by doing it, by reading and writing a lot.

    You really need the college track high school math to work out the problems you will see in any trade but especially heating and electrical.
    luketheplumber
  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 384
    Communication and language are critical, even if you are a mechanical wizard. (Hey...doesn't language have its own "mechanics"?)
    Then there is psychology. Human relations. Being able to talk to your "superiors" intelligently to get the results that serve you.
    I'm just thinking about all of the dealings with my homeowner/clients (my "bosses"), and then the hours I spend on the phone and computer dealing with tech support, and supply houses. Classes, always taking classes. Asking the right questions. The learning never stops.
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbesluketheplumber
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,197
    Hi @luketheplumber , Have we chased you off with an over-abundance of ideas? :| If not, how do you see your course going forward?

    Yours, Larry
    rick in Alaska
  • luketheplumber
    luketheplumber Member Posts: 134
    @Jackmartin
    Your right that I need to improve my grammar writing skills. I have ADHD which gives me trouble in that area but I know that I can do it. I know that I need to graduate highschool at a minimum before I can do anything else. I only work on my free time during summer breaks and then focus on school during the school year. things were going great this year until school went online in march. I am still having trouble getting organized in online school, but I have two fantastic parents and two sisters who are willing to help me with this. They all have been great at helping me through this.

    @mattmia2
    I have signed up for german class next year in school in case I change my mind and want to go to college, although I don't plan to.

    @Larry Weingarten
    No don't worry, I have been busy focusing on school as everyone tells me to. I have had little time to be on this website. I have mainly been biking outside in my free time to keep away the cabin fever. but you all being honest and telling me where i need to improve is a great help. I will focus on working on improving my writing and grammar in the future like you all have said.
    I just earned my GED and am looking for a apprenticeship with one of these steam gurus on this site!
    Alan (California Radiant) ForbesIntplm.
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