Refrigeration technicians need to possess patience. Patience is vital for all aspects of a technician's job. It is required while maintaining, repairing, and installing equipment, and even while troubleshooting systems.

Patience is definitely a plus while troubleshooting. It's easy for a technician to rush to early conclusions, which may lead him to incorrectly diagnose a system problem.

Optimal Accuracy

Many times a system must be thoroughly inspected before the tech can determine the root cause. This may include measuring the system's suction and discharge pressures, evaporator and system superheat values, the amount of subcooling at the outlet of the condenser, and perhaps some other system conditions.

Measuring these values may take time, but the process should not be skipped - or, worse still, you should not assume (guess) the values.

When measuring a system's pressures and temperatures, you may need to let the system run for a period of time so that pressures and temperatures can stabilize. It is generally recommended to let the system run at least 10 to 15 minutes after a shutdown, or after any adjustments are made, before you may rely on measured values.

Speedy = Sloppy

Patience is also required while maintaining systems. For example, a typical maintenance inspection on a system with an air-cooled condenser may require cleaning the condenser coil. Properly cleaning the condenser coil takes time and patience. It's important that you clean both the outer and inner surfaces of the coil. If you only clean the outer surface, you have not completed the task.

Also, while cleaning the coil, a technician must take care not to damage the fins of the condenser. This can easily happen if too much water pressure is used while rinsing the coil.

Patience is often required while repairing systems. A typical example of this is the simple process of working with flare nuts. It's quite easy to cross thread a flare nut if care is not taken while assembling a flared connection. If the threads are not properly mated and a technician applies pressure with a wrench to tighten the flare nut, it is easy for the threads to cross and become damaged. It is generally a good practice to always hand tighten a flare nut a few turns before applying pressure with a wrench. If the flare nut cannot be tightened by hand, find out why before you take a wrench to it.

Patience is always required during system installations. Technicians need to take their time while laying out piping to make sure the system is properly piped together.

Once the piping is installed, the system needs to be properly evacuated. Most systems should be evacuated to a 500-micron level. Sometimes this process is time-consuming, but it is necessary.

Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to troubleshooting, maintaining, repairing, and installing refrigeration systems. It is a must for all technicians.

Joe Marchese is owner of Coldtronics of Pittsburgh. He can be reached at 412-734-4433,, or

Publication date: 11/07/2005