Repairing refrigeration and air conditioning equipment systems is an exacting and, at times, very trying career.

The technician provides vital assistance in our society. The preservation of food, the comfort and safety of people, and the completion of industrial processes can be at stake whenever a call is made to the service manager.

The technician has to listen to the complaint, evaluate the situation, and make the necessary repairs. Before leaving the premises, it is necessary to assure the customer that the problem was correctly diagnosed, the repairs were expertly made, the system is operating as well or better than before the complaint was made, and there won’t be a call back on the same problem.

Some technicians, after many years diagnosing problems, develop a modus operandi. This usually has nothing to do with the issue at hand. It’s a routine they follow on most calls, regardless of the problem. These techs can be identified by the way they do their work.

The Purge and Adder:

This person believes that any system that has been running for more than 5 years must have developed some non-condensable gasses. Purging cleanses the system; adding “fresh” gas is very refreshing. It can’t hurt.

The Recharger:

This “expert” believes that the best solution for most problems is to get rid of the old worn-out refrigerant and recharge the system with recently manufactured gas. You’ve heard of tired blood? Well, there’s nothing more energizing than brand new, clean, natural, virgin refrigerant.

The Listener:

He is always hearing things. He listens to the compressor, motor, and pays particular attention to the expansion valve or capillary outlet into the evaporator with a very expensive industrial stethoscope. The bubbling, gurgling, and hissing sounds tell him exactly what is happening throughout the entire system.

He has a stethoscope around his neck and a mercury thermometer clipped to his shirt pocket. He is seriously thinking of changing his uniform to a white jacket equipped with a beeper.

The Oiler:

He loves to lubricate everything that moves — or that is supposed to move. He has a valued collection of oil dispensing devices: snap-oil cans (small, medium, and large), pump oil cans with a variety of flexible spouts, and, of course, an assortment of hypodermic oilers. This master oiler expertly lubricates all bearings, cams, levers, hinges, pivots, shafts, and spindles.

The Small Pocket Screwdriver Specialist:

Due to this technician’s syndrome, he never carries a toolbox — only a pocket screwdriver. He has a passion to adjust and screw things — thermostats, timers, and controls are his favorites.

With great depth and precision he cleverly adjusts and tightens everything in sight. For good, better, or worse, nothing remains the same after he leaves the premises.

The Thermometer Lover:

This technician has a deep affection for thermometers — all types of thermometers, including analog, digital, bi-metal, mercury, infrared, and recorders, as well as dataloggers for surface, immersion, and air readings in fluid or space that is above or below ambient temperature.

He measures and records every accessible part of the refrigeration or air conditioning system — even if the complaint is only a clogged drain pan.

The Portable Tool Crib:

Tools are his obsession but he hates to carry a toolbox. The only solution to his dilemma is a leather belt that can hold all of his tools — all kinds of tools. There is no way that he can lift the belt and strap it to his waist, once it is loaded with all of his tools. He must wait until he gets to the jobsite and then start placing each tool in its designated slot.

He can’t understand why there isn’t any provision for an electric drill — a large one. This technician gets very annoyed when he plods into a building and someone points in the opposite direction and says, “The telephone pole is out front to the left.”

Ehrens is an industry veteran who is a consultant with Sealed Unit Parts Co., Allenwood, NJ.

Publication date: 02/05/2001