I have been involved in the Testing, Adjusting and Balancing (TAB) trades for years, and often have discussions with industry professionals who question why they need to get certified in Hydronics when they never perform any Hydronic TAB?

In fact, many contractors will say things like: “I have twenty years TAB experience working on Box stores, etc., and I NEVER encounter hydronic systems.”

My answer to both questions is “Just because you ignore Hydronic systems, doesn’t mean you aren’t supposed to know how to work on them.”

Scott Fielder, Director, NBC
Scott Fielder, Director of Field Operations for Evergreen Telemetry,

I’ve personally worked on hundreds of retail stores and restaurants that did have hydronics. Many mixed-use buildings in most metropolitan areas have some sort of hydronic system installed, whether it’s hot and chilled water or a condenser water loop.

Recently, I was in a stand-alone bank in Cleveland, OH that had three DX (direct expansion) systems. It had hot water re-heat on all three and they were never balanced. When I asked why, the answer was that the owner never asked for balancing or that the system was working fine.

Maybe it works fine now, but if a unit was piped backwards, or a valve was installed backwards, problems will eventually surface. Sadly, I’ve read hundreds of TAB reports where the HVAC equipment was either a water-source heat pump or ground-source heat pump, with ZERO hydronic data included in the report.

Women in Hydronics
Dana Walsh, VP and Project manager at Precise TAB, Inc.,
of Mt. Pearl, Newfoundland, Canada works on balancing
a commercial hydronics system.

You can NEVER Be a Master of Your Trade Without Hydronics Skills

That is the bottom line. Think about it: there are plenty of carpenters who never build stairs. There are thousands of plumbers who only install hot water heaters or toilets. Given the demand in the trades and labor shortages, there are probably electricians who may have gotten away with only installing light switches and electrical outlets without ever wiring in the main.

Regardless, it’s universally accepted that to obtain your master status in these trades, you must know all aspects of each trade. Why should TAB be any different? Guess what, it’s not. If you want to obtain you senior certifications, you must have this skill.

TAB is Key to All Commercial Systems

I recently spoke with Steve Kidrowski, a 30-year-industry veteran who is a TABB (Testing, Adjusting and Balancing Bureau) Certified TAB Supervisor and a contributor to the SMART and ITI TAB Education curriculum. He made a couple of statements that made a lot of sense to me. He said:

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