Blogs

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For the past sixteen years, the volunteer leaders and senior staff from ACCA, AHRI (manufacturer association), and HARDI (distributor association) have gathered to collaborate on issues that the our industry must address. ACCA created the Industry Partners Forum (IPF) sixteen years ago and for fifteen years put this annual event together – creating the agenda and events to foster more personal relationships between manufacturers, distributors, and contractors. In 2019, HARDI took on the leadership role and gathered the industry in south Florida. The 2019 agenda focused on upcoming refrigerant changes and furnace efficiency rules pending at the Department of ...
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A member asked us: We pay a flat daily amount of $15 to our techs which we call a “travel fee.” Should this payment be considered part of a tech’s compensation, and if so, should the payment be counted when the tech works overtime?  If the tech is an independent contractor, getting a 1099, do overtime rules apply?  What are the requirements to be classified as an independent contractor? Brooke Duncan, from the law firm Adams and Reese in New Orleans, LA, responds: Hourly employees must be paid at least minimum wage for all hours they are in the service of the employer, and that includes time spent in going from one assignment to another. Travel time during ...
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From a blog on the Federal Trade Commission website : “Whether your summer plans include replacing your air conditioning, installing new flooring, or riding the range, you will probably read customer reviews to learn what people say about their experiences with a business or product. Shoppers benefit from knowing what others have to say, and the Consumer Review Fairness Act (CRFA) protects people’s ability to share their truthful experiences and opinions.   The FTC enforces the CRFA and recently sued three businesses (and two of their owners) for violating that law. According to the FTC, the companies used form contracts that barred customers from sharing ...
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Healthcare is an important and complex topic and ACCA is working to make simpler and more affordable. The Trump administration has been working to support Association Health Plans (AHP) to benefit small business owners, but how would they work? Association Health Plans allow small business, like ACCA members, to pool their employees for healthcare. ACCA could create a large pool of contracting businesses to obtain a preferential pricing by increasing the risk pool (one reason the federal government offers reasonable healthcare to employees is because of the large risk pool). This fixes the problem of too small of a risk pool for healthcare that many small ...
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Last year, President Trump announced a 10 percent tariff on many products – including HVACR products - entering the U.S. from China. And, using the power of the tweet, President Trump recently announced the 10 percent tariff will increase to 25 percent. President Trump also announced that he will eventually tax an additional $325,000,000,000 worth of Chinese products if the U.S. and China trade talks do live up to his expectations. According to U.S. officials, China has backtracked on many commitments that they promised to adhere to in agreements that were thought to be settled. A Chinese delegation is visiting the U.S. today (May 10, 2019) to discuss ...
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If you have ever played a sport you know that communication among players keeps plays going long, prevents accidents, and helps the team score points and win. The same is true for teams in a business. Effective communication drives success and creates a better working environment. According to a study done by Queens University of Charlotte, 75% of employers ranked collaboration and teamwork as very important to their business’s success. The down side to that is that another study by Salesforce showed that 86% of employers cited lack of collaboration and/or ineffective communications as the reason for failures in the workplace. OUCH! Fear not, there are some ...
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Last week I attended the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC) Technical Committee (TC) meeting to discuss public comments received on proposals to revise the 2018 UMC (for the future 2021 edition of UMC).  I am happy to report that we were successful in all areas as described below. ACCA Manual Zr: Residential HVAC System Zoning In response to ACCA’s comments, the UMC TC approved our proposal to add ACCA Manual Zr to the UMC as a mandatory requirement for designing zoned duct systems.  This requirement will appear in the 2021 edition of the UMC.  ACCA Manuals S (Residential Equipment Selection) ...
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The Home Owner Managing Energy Savings Act of 2019 (HOMES Act), H.R. 2043, was introduced to the House of Representatives by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) and is Co-sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV). The HOMES Act would provide rebates to homeowners who invest in energy efficiency improvements. Homeowners who demonstrate at least a 20 percent energy savings will receive a $2,500 rebate and those who demonstrate a 40 percent savings will receive a $5,000 rebate. This rebate can also be signed off from the homeowner to the contractor. For a homeowner to receive the rebate, they would be required to work with a contractor who meets specific qualifications, ...
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A recent decision by a judge in the Southern District of New York may change the trajectory of website accommodation cases in the state. It is only a tiny crack in an issue that has many more employers concerned not only in New York, but across the United States. In a surge in this past decade, New York businesses have seen an onslaught of thousands of cases alleging failure to accommodate visually impaired plaintiffs in website accessibility cases. In the case of Diaz v. Apple, the plaintiff, who asserted she is visually impaired and legally blind, alleged that Apple denied her full and equal access to its website because she encountered multiple, but unspecified, ...
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On January 28, ACCA reported on efforts to pass legislation in Arkansas that would have established a continuing education program for A and B HVACR licenses. Passaged of House Bill (HB) 1060 was important for contractors because continuing education elevates our industry and enjoys overwhelming support from contractors. ACCA supported similar legislation two years ago but this year we got much closer to seeing it passed. Representative Lynch, who introduced the bill, is himself an HVACR contractor and understands the benefits of continuing education for our industry. Five contractors in Arkansas testified before the Arkansas House Public Health, Welfare, ...
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Next week I am heading to Denver to attend the IAPMO Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC) Technical Committee (TC) meeting to discuss public comments received on proposals to revise the 2018 UMC (for the future 2021 edition of UMC). ACCA is involved with the relevant code committees because we want to ensure that HVACR contractors have a voice in the development of codes that they will be required to follow. We also want to make sure that the codes reflect the standards and manuals that ACCA has developed for quality installations, so that systems provide the comfort that customers desire and deserve, and that the equipment achieves maximum efficiency. While at the ...
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Succession planning, business transitions, or estate planning – whatever we want to call it – is not just about passing a business on to our children or whomever is ready to take on the responsibilities of running a company. There is a lot more to a successful transition from parents to child and I am glad to have the opportunities to see this firsthand with ACCA members. Recently, I visited Frederick Air in Frederick Maryland, founded by Steve Schmidt, ACCA immediate past chairman. Steve has done a remarkable job of building a strong company that has a positive reputation in the community. For the past few years, Steve has been helping his son, David, ...
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A member asked us: Are piece rate/spiffs/commissions permitted to be paid as a bonus once per quarter? Can “incentive pay” be saved up and paid once a month in a week where no overtime has been worked? Or can it can be saved up and paid once per quarter? Can a holiday bonus be paid without regard to FLSA overtime? Brooke Duncan, from the law firm Adams and Reese in New Orleans, LA, responds: Compensation of almost every form paid to hourly employees has an impact on the employee’s regular rate of pay and therefore on overtime pay when overtime has been worked. The reason why is that the employee’s regular rate of pay has to be adjusted when the employee receives ...
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On January 28, 1969, a well drilled by Union Oil Platform A off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, blew out. More than three million gallons of oil spewed, killing more than 10,000 seabirds, dolphins, seals, and sea lions. As a reaction to this disaster, activists were mobilized to create environmental regulations, environmental education, and Earth Day. The first Earth Day gained strong support from Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin after an aerial tour of the damage when he saw an 800 square-mile oil slick in the Santa Barbara Channel (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Day ) Large disasters like the blow out on an oil platform are devastating. ...
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On April 9, 2019, the New York City Council passed a first-of-its-kind bill that prohibits pre-employment drug testing for the presence of marijuana (or tetrahydrocannabinols, commonly known as THC). The law is expected to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio and will take effect one year later. Importantly, the law would not prohibit employer drug-testing programs that test existing employees for marijuana.   There are a number of safety-sensitive exclusions, including:   Police officers or peace officers, or other jobs with law enforcement or investigative functions at the department of investigation; Positions requiring compliance with Section 3321 ...
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A member asked us: What is the law regarding overtime wages when performance pay, a commission, and/or bonus are paid? For example, if a tech earns purely flat-rate performance pay and works 42 hours, is the tech paid the pre-agreed upon flat-rate performance pay? What if the tech earns an hourly wage and also a commission on items sold and/or a commission on tasks completed? If the tech works more than 40 hours, is the commission added to the hourly wage for the week, then divided by the hours worked to calculate the wage for that week, and paid 40 hours at that new rate and 1.5X the new rate on overtime hours? Brooke Duncan, from the law firm Adams and ...
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FieldEdge, a leading provider of field service software, joined ACCA as a Corporate Partner because they are looking for more ways to support contractors. As partners, ACCA was glad to host the team from FieldEdge, including Kirby Oscar, senior manager of business development, and Marc Werthmoeller, vice president of marketing and operations, at ACCA’s headquarters in Arlington, VA. FieldEdge is interested in being the strongest partner possible with ACCA members, and one of their focus areas is government relations activities – ACCA’s specialty! ACCA staff – myself and Alyx Simon – took Marc and Kirby to Capitol Hill for the morning and visited with two ...
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Battling White Slime

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Did you know 325 million bacteria call one ounce of condensate slime home? The war with slime is as old as ice box drains, and the drains on the ice delivery trucks. Wherever there are nice wet and cool environments and bacteria you may find slime growth. When it is in HVAC equipment evaporator sections there are many cleaners that can be used. However, when it is in refrigerators or ice makers, a food grade/safe cleaner must be used. There are food grade chemical cleaners available, as well as old home remedies. For example, in commercial ice machines acidic mixtures like grapefruit juice or vinegar are often used to clean out the pumping and drainage systems ...
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ACCA has been bringing you updates on the future of refrigerants as many states contemplate a transition from the high global warming R410A toward flammable (ASHRAE Standard 34 designated A2L and A3 refrigerants) refrigerants. We have continuously raised concerns that this transition is happening too quickly in states like California and that a more thoughtful approach needs to be taken. The firefighters of America have begun to raise similar safety concerns about flammable refrigerants. The firefighter’s associations of California and Illinois have issued letters expressing concerns about the safety of the public, firefighters responding to a scene, and HVACR ...
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A member asked us:   We have a service technician who is one of the highest paid employees in the company. He previously was in a car wreck in his personal vehicle that broke his neck a couple of years ago. Since his return to work he has been unable to perform many of the tasks that are required for someone in his position and seems to think we should pay another employee to ride around with him to be his "helper" to do the lifting overhead work etc. Recently he was riding in a vehicle that an 18- wheeler tire blew out and hit the windshield which according to him created a whiplash effect to his neck. He called the owner that Sunday to tell him he would ...
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