NYC Metro Area’s HVACR Blog

Commercial HVAC

The Unique Challenges of Delivering Great HVAC Service in NYC

Last Updated on 

Last Updated on June 24, 2015


If you’re a business owner in NYC, you’re probably like most others in that you don’t give a lot of thought to what it takes to keep your air conditioning working. You may not fully appreciate everything that your dedicated HVAC service tech has to go through to make that happen. New York City may be the greatest city in the world, but it can be a circus and a challenging place to work on HVAC systems. So if you’re evaluating vendors, than considering a service provider’s history and experience with the challenges of providing excellent service in New York City is a must.

1. Getting there is half the battle

The difficulty of traveling in and around New York City is a major obstacle that necessitates strategic planning. In the less densely populated areas, traffic jams may cause occasional delays, but in NYC traffic is a way of life. Even though a tech will leave plenty of time to get to an appointment, it doesn’t take much for his plans to get derailed by an accident, lane closure, water main break, or even the President being in town.

Finding a place to park the vehicle can often cause not only delays in getting to an appointment, but also interruptions during the service call. In the suburbs, companies may reside in a business park where a service tech can pull his truck right up to the side or back of a building. In Manhattan, he may have to park several blocks away and use a parking meter. While he’s concentrating on fixing your equipment, he may also have to keep his eye on the time and even run down 15 stories and 3 blocks away to feed more money into the meter. He also has to carry more tools and equipment to minimize trips out to the vehicle.

How do HVAC companies deal with these issues? For one thing, parking has to be figured into the cost of doing business. Between meters and the inevitable parking tickets (at times a no-parking zone is the only way to get equipment into a building), it’s a significant cost that’s not faced by service companies in other areas.

As far as dealing with traffic, there are a few smart strategies that large service companies like Arista use to minimize delays:

  • Service zones. Arista has organized the city into zones and stationed their trucks strategically around the five boroughs to minimize the distance and travel time to job sites. This strategy is also extremely beneficial during weather emergencies and power outages to get trucks where they are needed in a hurry.
  • GPS. Every truck is equipped with GPS to help navigate around traffic congestion.
  • Fleet management systems. These computerized systems allow dispatchers to see which vehicle is closest to a job and assign the work accordingly. Analysis of data also improves planning, making it easier to estimate accurate travel times and help techs get to appointments on time.

“We’ve structured our business around these strategies because they give us an advantage,” says Mike Rosone, Director of Service Sales at Arista. “They make for more expedited service and help us keep costs to a minimum.”

2. Then there’s getting through security

Once a technician arrives at your building, he often has to deal with another obstacle: security. In many large buildings, he may have to spend 10 or 15 minutes just waiting in line to show identification and be cleared to go into the building. Then he may have to wait for access to an elevator that’s shared by various trades or delivery people. Like traffic and parking, these are daily encumbrances that the NYC service provider has to plan for in his schedule.

3. You have to be a contortionist to get at the equipment

Space is at a premium in New York. No one wants to give up a square foot of revenue-producing space to house air conditioning equipment. Even rooftop space is at a premium. Consequently, HVAC units are jammed up in ceilings and stuffed into crawl spaces. In the suburbs, the equipment is easily accessible right next to the building or via a ladder to the roof. There are even spacious mechanical rooms. Not so in the city! Aesthetics, architecture and the need for usable space take precedence over functionality for servicing equipment.

This makes the job infinitely more difficult for your HVAC service tech. “Every day, our guys have to crawl over and in between stuff to get at the equipment,” says Rosone. “Sometimes they’re hanging off the sides of buildings. It often takes more time to remove panels and access equipment than it does to perform the actual maintenance.”

So, the next time your HVAC service tech makes it to your site in less than 30 minutes, remember what he’s had to go through to get there so fast, and how he has to turn himself into a pretzel to clean the coils on your a/c unit.

If your provider is not doing such a great job handling the challenges of HVAC service in NYC, download our helpful guide to Contract Confidence: Transitioning to a New HVAC Service Provider. (It’s chock full of comparative guidelines to help you choose the right provider for your business and your location).

Get Your Free Guide to Vetting HVAC Service Providers