Ice Breaker: Servicing Special Systems

Our industry has many different types of specialized refrigeration and air conditioning systems. Servicing and maintaining these systems normally requires a higher level of expertise than generic systems.

Depending on the application, these systems can operate quite differently from generic systems. Some systems will have specialty components.

Some may operate at different pressures and temperatures, while others may have unique operating controls.

For example, some soft-serve freezers cycle the operation of their refrigeration systems based on the consistency of the product rather than the product’s temperature. A technician servicing these systems will need to know how to adjust these controls to obtain the right product consistency.

Computer room systems will have controls and accessories to allow the system to either cool, heat, humidify, or dehumidify as needed. These systems will normally have some type of electronic board to control their operation. Again a technician servicing these systems will need to be familiar with the controls required to operate them.

A technician faced with servicing any of these specialty systems may run into some difficulties. Before attempting any repairs, a technician should first try to become familiar with their design and operation. This requires some research before arriving on the job.


A technician should always attempt to obtain the service manual from the system manufacturer. Many times these manuals will be available online to download. If a manual is not available online, a technician may need to call the manufacturer for assistance. He should then read through the manual and become familiar with the operation of the system before going to the job.

A technician should avoid reading the manual for the first time on the job. This may cause problems, as he may not have the time to properly comprehend the information in the manual. Manufacturers normally have tech support personnel available to assist technicians in the field; however, they may not always be available when a technician calls. It is not uncommon for a technician to have to call back several times or wait for a return call to get a question answered. If a technician waits to call from the job, he may not be able to get the questions answered when he needs it most.


Another aid for a technician is to remember the basics. Many times the system problem is very basic, and a technician should avoid looking too deeply into the system for the problem. Check the basics. Is the proper voltage applied to the system? Are there any broken or damaged electrical wires? Are any of the motors that should be running not operating? Are any of the refrigeration coils or air filters dirty? Is the compressor running too hot? Are there any oily locations on any of the refrigerant piping?

Remember: Do the research, be prepared, remember the basics, and do not let the system get the best of you. Many times a good technician can repair most problems even with limited practical experience on a particular system.

Publication date: 05/05/2008

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