Ice Breaker: Work Smarter, Not Harder

Servicing refrigeration systems can be grueling. Some jobs are physically demanding, others are more time consuming, and still others are plain mentally challenging. Technicians need to work smarter, not harder. One major difference between an inexperienced tech and an experienced one is that the experienced tech works smarter. Here are some ways a technician can work smarter and become more efficient.


Pressure test the system. When repairing a refrigerant leak, a tech should test his work by pressurizing the system with an inert gas, such as nitrogen. This allows him to prove that the leak has been repaired before going on to the next part of the repair process. It’s a much better practice to discover a leak that has not been repaired before evacuating and recharging a system.

Once refrigerant has been added to the system, a technician needs to recover the refrigerant, repair the leak, re-evacuate the system, and again add refrigerant. If you discover a leak at this point, it results in unnecessary time spent on that job.

Check vacuum pumps. Another key to working smarter is when you are dealing with vacuum pumps. Verify the operation of vacuum pumps and micron gauges before opening the vacuum pump and gauge to the system. This prevents wasted time running a vacuum pump or micron gauge that is not working.

Don’t rush diagnoses. Occasionally, techs misdiagnose a system problem by jumping to conclusions. This can be avoided by not rushing the diagnostic part of the job. Slow down and think before you react. Techs need to analyze the conditions, then make an educated determination of the problem.

Inspect service tools. Take some time each week to maintain and inspect service tools. This prevents a tool failing when it is needed most. It’s also a good practice to carry a backup of some of your more important service tools. For example, some techs carry an extra VOM and gauge manifold set in the truck.

Keep on learning. Education is key to becoming a smarter and better technician. Techs need to invest the time required to better understand the design and inner workings of the systems and components they service. Take advantage of the many seminars offered by our industry.

Call for help. Occasionally, a tech comes across an unfamiliar system or component. The tech may have questions on how it operates. Don’t hesitate calling for help when this occurs. Not calling for help can easily lead to wasted time on the job, misdiagnosing a system problem, or causing further damage to the system.

Consider good lighting. Often equipment is located in a dimly lit area, making service more difficult. A technician should have good lighting tools that make working on this equipment much easier and safer.

Plan ahead. Good planning also makes for a more efficient tech. For example, when installing a system, a technician can plan the job so he can be electrically wiring the system while the vacuum pump is running. This helps save time on the job. Planning also allows a tech to bring the right tools and materials to the job.

There are many more ways a technician can work smarter and more efficiently. Techs should always be looking for new ways to improve their job performance and try to do their jobs 1 percent better every day.

Publication date: 12/01/2008

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