Most refrigeration system problems encountered by technicians are easy to identify — not all, but most. The repair may not be quite so easy but knowing what the issue is, generally, is not complicated. For example, knowing a compressor has failed is generally easy to determine, even though replacing it is not a simple or easy task.

But, there are times when determining the cause of a system problem can be quite difficult. Those are the times when a “master” technician will shine above the others. There are many qualities that allow technicians to be very good troubleshooters. One of these qualities is the attitude they take to the job and how they approach looking for the problem. They don’t back down or give up on the challenge. They’ll take the time and put in the effort to educate themselves, if needed, about the particular system or a component used on the system. They are not afraid or ashamed to say, “I don’t know but I will find out.” Many technicians are very reluctant to admit they do not know something about the system and will even guess at the problem to convince themselves they are right. 

While working at my father’s refrigeration shop, I worked with a technician who would say, “The system is obstructed,” when he could not figure out the real cause of the problem. The first time he told me this, I actually believed him — until it turned out not to be the case. It seemed he would always fall back to that conclusion when he was unsure of the real issue. With all the different technologies in our industry, it’s truly difficult for us to be well-versed in all aspects of this trade. Having the right attitude about knowing what you do know and what you don’t know will make you a better technician.

There are several ways we can get answers to our questions. The easiest way is to just ask someone who has more experience with the system or component. Calling the manufacturer is also an excellent way to get your questions answered. If that option is not available, you can call your local wholesaler or distributor that sells the product. If that does not work, call on a friend.

Having the right attitude with your customer is also very important when dealing with difficult jobs. Make sure your customer knows you are on top of the problem and are working to resolve it. You don’t want them to lose faith in your abilities or start to doubt your technical ability to resolve the problem. Once that is lost, it is hard to get it back. Recently, I was working on a 25-door freezer lineup on which we had just changed out the compressor. After changing out the compressor, we had an issue with the water regulating valve. I had to make several trips back to the store to get it fixed but I never gave up on the issue. I kept the customer in the loop during the process, and I believe they were satisfied with our services.

So, the next time you are faced with a challenge, don’t back down. Face the problem with the right attitude.  

Publication date: 4/3/2017

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