By now, we're all well aware that the coronavirus pandemic has caused many businesses to temporarily change how they operate. Many employees are working from home, but some are still out in the workplace providing many of the essential services, one of which is the repair of refrigeration systems. However, for many refrigeration technicians, the workload has been significantly reduced, as many restaurants and food service providers have closed completely, and the rest have gone to take-out or delivery service only.
So what can a refrigeration technician do during this downtime? One great option is to take this opportunity to enhance your knowledge of the trade. With the multitude of varying technologies in our trade, the importance of continued education cannot be overemphasized. Knowledge is the best tool service technicians can carry with them.
Today, one of the easiest and most convenient ways to access educational information is through webinars. Webinars offer technicians the ability to obtain education without any face-to-face interaction with the educator or fellow technicians. Many webinars are also recorded, so if you miss the live presentation, you have the option to see the recorded version anytime. You can find these webinars with either a simple online search or on social media.
This is also a great time to update your technical library, and if you don’t have one, it is a wonderful opportunity to create one. Go online and download as much information as you can, and save it on your PC or smart device. Having this information available when you need it can be extremely valuable. It will save you time and allow you to better troubleshoot systems when things get back to normal.
This downtime may also present an opportunity to work on your service truck. Perhaps take an inventory of what you carry and remove some of those old items that are never used or needed. You can also take this opportunity to reorganize your service vehicle to make it easier to find and access your tools and supplies.
Check Your Refrigeration Tools
This is also a great time to test your tools. How accurate are your refrigeration gauges? How about your temperature probes — are they accurate? You can test your pressure gauges with a refrigerant cylinder. For example, at 71°F, a cylinder of R-134a will have a saturation pressure of 72 psig. When using a refrigerant cylinder, make sure the temperature of the refrigerant has stabilized to a known temperature (such as the ambient temperature) before using it.
A thermometer can easily be checked by placing it in a solution of crushed ice and water. Fill a cup with crushed ice and add water so that three-quarters of the ice is immersed in the water. It is best to have a solution that has more ice than water. Once the temperature of the solution has stabilized, place the thermometer in the ice/water solution. If the thermometer measures a temperature relatively close to 32°F, the thermometer is relatively accurate. If not, the thermometer needs to be adjusted, repaired, or discarded.
Vacuum pumps and micro gauges should also be checked. Simply connect your micron gauge directly to the vacuum pump using a vacuum-rated hose, turn on the micron gauge and vacuum pump. In a relatively short time you should see the pressure drop on your micron gauge. You should be able to pull well below 500 microns; if not, then you probably have a problem with one of these tools.
Lastly, if you still have time, there is always a "honey do" list that you can work on, or other chores around the house.