I received a phone call a while ago from an individual who wanted to do some work on a malfunctioning domestic refrigerator and was seeking my help as editor of The Hotline, which answers service-related questions. (The Hotline appears on page 34 of this issue.) It appeared that the individual was not directly involved in the HVACR industry but wanted to try his hand at fixing the unit.

The unit was only a few years old. I asked him if he had contacted the manufacturer. He said yes, but that the manufacturer wanted to send out an authorized service technician to evaluate the situation. The caller didn’t want that expense.

I told him that I was not qualified to offer assistance, especially over the phone. I suggested he write out his problem and e-mail it to me as a Hotline question. The procedure at that point would be to forward the question first to the manufacturer for a response. If there was no response from that source, I would then route the question to another individual who has done appliance repairs for many years and often answers Hotline questions.

The caller took a pass on the Hotline option, since he wanted to correct the problem as soon as possible.

Getting Help

The phone conversation raised two thoughts in my mind.

First, any time someone, especially a technician, is confronted with a situation in which he or she is unsure of how to solve, it is best not to take a guess but to talk to someone who can offer help. Since the caller was apparently not an HVACR person, the manufacturer was correct to suggest that an authorized service tech evaluate the problem. Service techs in the industry should be able to get help from manufacturers and should be willing to seek out that help. Another source of answers is wholesaler/supply houses, which often have people on staff who not only can provide guidance, but help track down any part or component needed.

The second point concerns The Hotline. I welcome any and all questions. But be aware that The Hotline is not designed for instant answers from someone with a phone in one hand and a wrench attached to a valve stem in the other hand.

The Hotline serves a number of purposes. Perhaps a tech solved a problem, but wonders if there are other ways to correct a situation. Or perhaps the tech came up with a temporary solution, but is looking for a more long-term resolution. Or maybe the system has been decommissioned and there is time to explore a number of options.

Of even greater importance is that The Hotline exists to help share problems and solutions with a larger audience. I’ve always been impressed with how willing this industry is to exchange ideas on how to build a business and how to overcome challenging situations in the field. We may not want to help the competitor down the street too much but, in general, people in this industry do want to share ideas. That is one reason why The Hotline exists.

I encourage you to submit questions. Your question will be routed to a potential responder as quickly as possible. Once the answer is received, it will be sent directly to you. Because of periodic backlogs in answered questions, it may be a while before it is seen in print or on the Internet. But be assured you will receive your answer as soon as we can get it to you. And eventually your question, and its answer, will benefit your peers.

Peter Powell is refrigeration editor. He may be reached at 847 S. Randall Rd., Ste. 253, Elgin, IL 60123; 847-622-7260; 847-622-7266 (fax); peterpowell@achrnews.com.

Publication date: 01/13/2003