Tidewater Tech Blog

DIY: 10 Checks to Make Before Calling for Air Conditioner Repair

It’s quite embarrassing for you to request air conditioning (AC) repair services only for the technician to come out, look at the system and flip an obvious switch. Some common central air conditioning problems have simple solutions. If you find something isn’t right with your AC unit, save time and money by conducting these simple checks before making that call to the repair man.

  • Check your circuit breaker

: Flickr scottbb

If your AC doesn’t start, this should be among the first places to look. The circuit breaker is normally found in the main electrical panel, though it can sometimes be placed in secondary circuits. Look to see if it has tripped and put it back on. A u

sual cause for tripping is your AC draining too much power. However, if this happens frequently, consult your electrician.

  • Is your thermostat working properly?


Source: Flickr- Advanced Telemetry

Your conditioner may not turn off when the room temperature reaches that set on the thermostat. If your thermostat does not display any figures, and shuts down the whole system when you set it to heat, consider getting a replacement.

  • Have you checked the capacitor?


Source: Youtube- RepairClinic

The capacitor starts the condenser and the fan in the compressor. Defective capacitors cause the motor to overheat and eventually shut down. If the motor fails, the system will not run completely. Be sure to have ruled out power supply and gadgets like the thermostat and circuit breaker before checking out the capacitor.

  • Do you have noisy ducts?

Source: Max Pixel

Many heating and cooling ducts are metallic in nature. Track along the lines and listen for any sound. You may find some panels have not been tightened enough. If noise persists, consider flexible insulation that absorbs vibrations.

  • Is water dripping at the base of your air handler?


Source: Thinkstock

If the answer is yes, it may be leaking from one of the pipes due to blockage. Algae are a common cause of blockage. Use a vacuum pump to suck out the water or completely replace the pipe with a new one.

  • What of your condensate pump?

Source: Medispensersystems.com

Your pump should come on automatically with the help of a ball float that rises with the water level. If it does not start, it is either clogged or totally broken. Clean it out thoroughly and test if it works in case of clogging.

  • Is your pump overflowing?


Source: Instructables.com

Your condensate pump may be running but not discharging water. There is usually a check valve before the discharge tube. Check to see if it is blocked and clean it.

  • Does your indoor air handler produce noise?


Source: nachi.org- eferraioli

Your air handler may grind, squeal or buzz. Belt driven motors can have their belts worn out hence the squealing noise. On the other hand, some motors may use ball bearings that do not provide for greasing. Once the bearings are worn out, they begin to produce grinding noises.

  • Is your air conditioner running but does not cool well?


Source: Thinkstock

This problem may be caused by limited airflow to the system. A good place to check is the air filters, registers, and the compressor. An AC air handler can jam because of low refrigerant levels and dirty filters among other things.

  • Check the safety switch


Source: Picclick.com

Some AC units come equipped with a safety switch or “emergency stop” button. Located directly on the unit or affixed to a nearby wall and resembling a light switch, make sure the toggle is resting in the “on” position. If it is not, flip the switch and your AC unit should resume its function.


Help your air conditioner run smoothly by doing regular DIY checks yourself. In cases where you cannot detect the problem, call in a technician for AC repairs. Periodically schedule maintenance for your system. If you’d like to train

100 Watts Smile: The Grinning Librarian

April 4th is National School Librarian Day and Tidewater Tech Trades would like to recognize our Librarian Assistant, Tiffany Watts, for her outstanding work managing the Learning Resource Center and coordinating the Penn Foster students on campus.


Ms. Watts graduated from Norfolk State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She is an outstanding resource for students and faculty. No matter what the task, Ms. Watts performs to the best of her abilities and with a smile on her face. Thank you for making the campus brighter with your cheer!

-Tidewater Tech Staff


Funny Cars are No Drag

Three Ladies Who Switched Gears in the Auto Industry

By Esperanza Poquiz & Jul DeGeus

When we say “automotive industry”, who is the first person that comes to mind? Is it Karl Benz or Henry Ford, two of the most popular automobile engineers? Maybe it’s a competitive driver, like A.J. Allmendinger or Jeff Gordon. Heck, if you have little ones racing around the house, you’re probably thinking of Lightning McQueen or Tow Mater from Cars. These people, and characters,  have had a huge impact in the automotive world, making them well known household names. They also have something else in common; they’re all male.

There are many women who have made significant changes in the automotive industry. It’s just pretty hard to think of a woman who has stamped her name in automotive history. Women, like Florence Lawrence and Nellie Louis Goins, often get overshadowed when it comes to this prominently male dominant field. Today, we’re giving some women the recognition that they deserve in honor of Women’s History Month.


Florence Lawrence

Florence Lawrence, or “The First Movie Star”, was the first filmed actor to be publicly named. While the young actress was most known for her roles on the screen, she became a director of the road through the creation of two of the most common driving tools we use today. Noticing that there were many automobile accidents happening, she invented her own version of our modern day turn signals: “auto signaling arms”. Flags on both sides of the vehicle were raised or lowered by the operator of the car pushing a button, indicating to other drivers which way you were turning. Lawrence’s second invention is what we know today as brake lights. She painted the word “Stop” on a sign to let people know that she was slowing down or coming to a halt. Unfortunately, Florence never patented her inventions, which caused them to fall into the hands of mass producing companies. 3


Helene Rother

In 1943, Helene Rother became one of the first women to succeed in a man’s industry as the first female automotive designer. She was hired by General Motors, working on upholstery colors and fabric, door hardware, seat construction and lighting.  She joined Nash-Kevinator from 1948, creating elegant interior designs that were advertised as “irresistible glamour on wheels”. Having a keen sense of fashion, Rother emphasized her elegant designs through coordinated colors and the addition of trim, resulting in a new female audience for the automotive industry. In 1951, she was awarded the Jackson Medal for excellence of design and became the first woman to address the Society of Automotive Engineers. 1


“Nitro” Nellie Louise Goins

One African American woman who made automotive history is “Nitro” Nellie Louise Goins. In the 70’s, Goins was a funny car, or drag racing car, owner and driver, who attended many drag-way race events. Her car of choice was the A/FC Barracuda, also known as the “Conqueror”, and later she sported a Mustang funny car.  Goins was known for the work she did on her cars, like welding and drilling their fiberglass bodies. Once quoted for saying, “It began as a dream and prayer”, Nitro Nellie turned her dreams and prayers into her reality. 2

Women have been involved in the automotive world for so long, but their accomplishments just don’t seem to have the same impact on car enthusiasts as men’s do. Leaving lasting contributions in safety, design and sport, females continue to exceed expectations in this male driven world. So now, the next time you are asked about a “who” in the auto industry, perhaps the first person you’ll think of will be the actress who came up with two solutions to reduce the number of accidents occurring on the road. Or maybe you’ll think of the female who, instead of limiting design to offices and buildings, created the sleek and fashionable interior of a car. If thrills are your thing, then the woman who couldn’t resist the need for speed and wouldn’t let anyone stop her from racing could be the thought that pops in your head. Regardless of who does come to mind, we hope that learning a little about these women has inspired you to look deeper into the achievements of women in every industry. Happy National Women’s History Month!



  1. Rezucha, K. (2016, August 23). Female Inventors and Innovators: 5 Automotive Trailblazers. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from http://blog.esurance.com/female-inventors-and-innovators-5-women-automotive-trailblazers/
  2. Tate, R. (2014, February 03). MotorCities National Heritage Area – Story of the Week. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from http://www.motorcities.org/Story/One+Hundred+Years+A+Highlight+of+Women+In+the+Automotive+Industry+br+By+Robert+Tate+Automotive+HistorianResearcher-339.html
  3. Wright, M. (2017, March 15). 10 Women Who Shook the Auto Industry. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from http://www.cheatsheet.com/automobiles/girl-power-10-women-who-shook-the-auto-industry.html/?a=viewall

The Arc of Welding a Timeline of History

The Arc of Welding: A Timeline of History

Trade School Jobs in 2017 and Beyond

Trade School Jobs in 2017 and Beyond

As the New Year rolls in, many people start to take stock of their lives and ask themselves “what am I going to do this year to better my career?”  That question is not so easy to answer if you can’t or don’t want to attend a 4 year college.  Or is it?  According to Businessinsider.com there are a lot of jobs that are high paying and do not require a 4 year college degree.  In fact, they list 40 careers and the salaries they pay for jobs that do not require a 4 year college degree.  They may however require some technical or trade school training in order to qualify for the entry level positions in these industries.

“Nine months in trade school. Job guaranteed.” – CNN Money Says in this article posted here on their website.

What is a Trade School?

Often referred to as a Trade School, Technical School or Vocational School, a Trade School is a non-traditional school that emphasizes career training in a skilled technical field.  The trade school educates and trains the students in the technical skills and core academic requirements in order to secure employment in the career field the student has chosen.


Become an Automotive Technician in 45 Weeks

Become an Automotive Technician in 45 Weeks

How To Become An Automotive Technician - Tidewater Tech

An automotive technician inspects, diagnoses and repairs problems in cars and lightweight trucks.

The day-to-day reality of working as an automotive technician is becoming more challenging and complex and employers are now looking for technicians who have completed an auto technician training program.

Attaining an auto mechanic certification is also a big plus in terms of gaining employment as an automotive technician.


Tips to Protect Your Computer and Identity Online

In the ever-expanding online and digitally connected world, privacy and security are gaining increasing attention. While the average American is beginning to recognize and understand the true value of their personal information, people also continue to express concerns about their privacy online. And that is especially true during the holiday season. And with tax time just around the corner, we all need to be especially vigilant.

AWS Testing Center Creates Sparks for Tidewater Tech Welding Program

It’s been almost a year since Tidewater Tech obtained the coveted American Welding Society’s (AWS) “Accredited Test Facility” designation and the future couldn’t look brighter. Not only are students earning two internationally recognized welding certifications, they benefit from the AWS endorsement of our facility when seeking employment.


Come Join Us! Tidewater Tech Career Fair Open House

Mark your calendars on Thursday April 30th, 2015 Tidewater Tech will host our Career Fair Open House from 9am to 1pm. Check out who’s hiring in the Hampton Roads area in both trades and general business . Companies such  Wells Fargo, One Hour Heating and Air, Aerotek, Harbor Group, Mile One/ Hall Automotive, Oceaneering, and Snap On Tools will be in attendance for onsite interviews.  Our open house is  a free event and open to the public. Recent grads? We’d love to here from you. Come Join us at Tidewater Tech’s Annual Career Fair and Open house. Download and view our official event flyer here.

Come Join Us!

Come Join Us