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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Northern Virginia, Metro DC
    Posts
    52

    Switching jobs to Refrigeration........

    Hey all,

    Just wanted to get some input before I start my new job on Monday. I was laid off two weeks ago from my last job as a commercial tech working on RTU's, Dry-Coolers, server room units, and water source heat pumps after our company lost a few big contracts. I am starting new job for a refrigeration company that takes care of all the Startbucks in the area, gas stations, restaurants, etc. I have some refrigeration experience and am bummed I couldn't land a supermarket refrigeration job just yet but I am still looking. Any input on what I should brush up on before I start on Monday. According to my supervisor I will be thrown into service right away and that they are comfortable working with my current skill set. I have done mainly HVAC service work, not a whole lot of refrigeration, any input on what to be ready for and what to brush up on is much appreciated.
    If we had bacon we could have bacon and eggs......if we had eggs.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Ohio, USA
    Posts
    168
    Learn (or brush up) on:

    Defrost types
    Cap tube systems and TXV
    How systems are controlled (EG pumpdown)
    Keep indoor cond. coils in restaurants CLEAN!
    Door gasket condition can be critcal
    Doors closing and STAYING closed is critical
    Etc.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    Posts
    427
    In addition to what Jared mentioned, you should learn something about ice machines. Pay attention to water flow. Poor water flow due to mold or partially clogged water filters are usually the most common issues.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Northern Virginia, Metro DC
    Posts
    52
    Thanks for the input. I know the equipment I will be looking at will be small potatoes compared to the comfort cooling systems I have been looking at in office buildings. Now I will be dealing with small fractional horsepower compressors instead of 10-20 ton serviceable compressors. There will be no liquid cooled condensers or VAV units, etc. However, I have noticed over the years that the most valuable techs are the ones who can do BOTH comfort cooling AND refrigeration. This will only add to my skillset and hopefully will lead to a new opportunity in supermarket refrigeration or larger scale storage refrigeration. I have worked on a few ice machines in the past and remember changing a few water solenoids as well as having floats hang up with too much sediment in the water. I and actually worked for a grocery store chain about 4 years ago for about six months so I also have a little experience with shaved ice machines, coffin cases, electric defrost, defrost timers, semiserviceable compressors, etc. I have also done a little along the way on walk ins, sandwich counters, and ice cream display cases. But like with anything else you can't become proficient with any equipment unless you get repeated hands on. Thanks again for the input.
    If we had bacon we could have bacon and eggs......if we had eggs.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Pittsburgh
    Posts
    181
    Yes brush up on sleep ! NOW ! No really, learn types of refrigerants pressures associated with them, for now I would learn 134a, 404a, 22 you should already know, you might still see occasional 12/502 out there too, so dont forget them. Read some service manuals on ice machines, sequence of operation is helpful when you first start troubleshooting.. Will you be working on racks ?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Richmond, working under tarps
    Posts
    483
    cap tubes..........you will need to diagnose regularly

    and they aint easy to diagnose.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    mid-Tennessee
    Posts
    684
    What overwhelmed me when I started refrigeration in '98 was the vast selection of refrigerants they stocked my truck with. R22, R134A, R404A, HP80, MP39...and a few others - rarely seen or used, which we kept at our warehouse just in case.

    Having only worked with R12 and R22 up to then, my head was spinning.

    While HVAC was STILL just R22 then, REFRIGERATION became the guinea pig for the EPA's wrath on "ozone depleting substances." Ironically, all of THAT evolution is being replayed NOW in HVAC. With R22 getting so expensive, lots of questions arise here on this forum as to what's preferred as a R22 subtitute on older systems before getting a customer to "bite the bullet" with a R410A system installation.

    Anyway, there's still lots of old, decrepit REFRIGERATION systems in use out there by owners with tight budgets. Many years...many repairs...many interim refrigerants that somebody used because it was cheapest or what THEIR company preferred to stock at the time. TOO too many times, I've shown up to remedy an old walk-in's problem to find a complete lack of any definitive markings stating what refrigerant was put into that system. I'd find an old condenser data plate labelled R502 or R12, but the compressor someone before me had installed may be labelled POE or AB oil. The TXV element's sticker might narrow it down, but finding it washed out and faded often leaves those illegible. So, identifying what's been put into a system may be a challenge that convolutes repair efforts.

    Get all the PT charts you can. Get ones with oil compatibility charts. I had one which also gave typical cut-in/out pressure control settings for systems relying on those vice a thermostat for temperature regulation, such as what's often used on refrigerated base (drawer) units under the grills in restaurants.

    Even then, a hundred miles from nowhere, you might have to become a PI by asking questions and have LOTS of patience. Getting the manager to take a break from serving up meals to their residents at that nursing home so she can call their maintenance guy at home on a Saturday. He finally returns her call an hour later. In turn, HE calls his brother-in-law, who he had to come over and work on it just last week. HE returns HIS call from his cell while having a cool one at Joe's Bar - to finally and CERTAINLY determine that THAT guy had JUST (ignorantly and very incorrectly) converted that old R502 W/I freezer to MP39!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    583
    go to sporlanonline.com and read up on everything you can.
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    310
    There is nothing that can prepare you........ be ready for anything. Also understand that no matter how "big" your comfort cooling systems were, the smallest refer system can make you cry like a schoolgirl.
    You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Northern Virginia, Metro DC
    Posts
    52
    I wont be working on rack systems although I have worked on them in the past. I will be seeing alot of stand alone stuff, ice machines, small walk-ins, etc. It is a locally owned company with 125 trucks but there are multiple departments (plumbing, electric, etc). Lots of restaurants, schools, and government buildings.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    4,324
    Quote Originally Posted by sayya2daupay View Post
    I will be seeing alot of stand alone stuff
    kitchen employees will find a way to break this stuff in ways you never thought was possible. I once got 3 calls in the same week from one restaraunt. The complaint: Doors on the floor. seriously, if you break off 3 doors in one week you're doing something wrong.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Northern CA
    Posts
    25
    Take a call at 2am, you learn fast..... Never was brave enough to call unless I was desperate...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Spokane,WA
    Posts
    16
    The Starbucks I have worked on up in Washington and Idaho have one or two 5 ton units. Several undercounters like Delfields. And some reach ins usually Trues. The ice machines are ice omatics I think and Manitowacs. Nothing too crazy.

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