The professional HVAC technician makes a thorough assessment while on a service call or when performing a system installation. By looking at the system and how the components relate to each other, the technician can prepare an efficient process to complete the job.

An efficient process consists of having the right tools together with the right material at the right time. From system renovation to replacing a relay, an efficient process saves the customer aggravation, increases company profits, and increases your own value as a professional technician.

Today we will examine questions that will help you think through a jobsite assessment and put together an efficient process for the task at hand.

List It

How will I list it?It is helpful to make a list and/or drawing of the assignment to be completed. A wiring diagram, piece of duct to be fabricated, or material to be used can be documented on a piece of paper.

A list can also be recorded on your personal digital recorder and downloaded to your company's permanent computer file on that particular customer.

Hang It

How will I hang it?You take meticulous measurements of a piece of ductwork to be fabricated. Before your list is finished, you must think about what you will use to hang it.

Do not stop at the four sheet metal drives that will be used for hangers. How will you attach the hangers to the structure?

The key to the efficient process is to think right on through to the end, as far as you need to go.

Replace It

What caused it to fail?Here is every service manager's nightmare: "Jim, I've found the problem - it's a bad transformer."

There is a reason that transformer turned into burned toast. Trace back through the circuit and find the cause.

What will you need to replace it? Say you diagnose a bad condenser fan motor. Think about the related components:

  • Is the fan blade in good shape?

  • Can you remove it from the motor's shaft?

  • Did you check the capacitor?

  • Is the bracket in good shape?

  • Is the condenser coil clean?

    A compressor replacement can be a little more involved but it needn't be complicated. Think through the major processes like recovering refrigerant, brazing, evacuation, wiring, etc.

    Think about related components. For instance, is the contactor in good shape? What size filter-drier do you need?

    To simplify the compressor re-placement process, create a checklist of procedures and material to be used in advance.

    Make Connections

    How will you connect it? You have four pieces of duct, the hangers, and screws. Did you remember the S-clips and drives?

    The key is not to have to remember. While you are on the job making your list, just think through the process (duct ... connectors to put duct together ... hangers to hang duct ... screws to attach hangers to structure ... etc.).

    Even a simple replacement, such as a relay, requires that you attach electrical connectors. Can you reuse the old connectors or do you need new ones? Is the wiring that you are attaching the connectors to in good shape?


    How do you economize your work process? A proper assessment of the situation is a start. Asking yourself the right questions and making a list is next. But what about the physical end of your task?

    You can start with a well-organized truck. Brazing, electrical, piping, and other materials should be separated according to use. Have separate removable containers for individual work processes. In other words, don't mix electrical and plumbing fittings in the same tray.

    Separate work processes on the job. Install your sheet metal or ductboard to the appropriate equipment and put those tools and materials away.

    As you re-enter the building, make sure you have the correct tools and materials for the next step of the installation.


    Have you replenished the stock used from your truck? A professional HVAC technician makes sure the correct material is on the truck when she or he needs it. This includes batteries for tools and meters, as well as cleaning supplies.

    If you use it, restock it.

    If a person inside the office is responsible for this task, help them out. Remember, you are the one in the trenches and on the front line. You are expected to be prepared and perform.

    David E. Rothacker is a member of the National Comfort Institute's Advisory Board and a National Comfort Team Founding Member. For questions or comments on Tech Basics, contact Rothacker at

    Publication date: 08/30/2004