Is it necessary to have installation experience before going into service?
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  1. #1

    Is it necessary to have installation experience before going into service?

    I am working as an installation helper, and sad to say I'm not really enjoying it very much. On the positive side I'm learning wiring and getting TONS of brazing practice (no one seems to use tubing benders or swaging tools at this company), but other than that it's not quite what I had in mind when I decided to go into HVAC. When I interviewed for the position, I spoke with the owner and his son about wanting to get into the service/troubleshooting end of the trade rather than the construction end, and they both insisted that I needed to focus on installation before I could even think about doing service.

    So how true is this in your experience? Is installation experience really necessary to make one a good service tech?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Texas
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    My first job was as a start up tech for brand new apartment complexes, then I was a start up tech for new houses, then I was a service tech. Now I do pull and cleans and installs. Installs are more hard work but less stress than making service calls all day. Today I clocked 12 hours and have more installs tomorrow. Im starting to realize it was true when a veteran tech told me "different company, same ****." I love the technical part of the job but the other stuff is what becomes a real drag.

  3. #3
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    Oct 2010
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    Anderson, South Carolina, United States
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    Necessary no, very helpful yes. Ever wonder why most all companies wIll only accept applications from guys with at least 3-5 years experience for a service tech? It takes a fair amount of on the job hands on experience to be a proficient tech. Put in your time in the trenches like everybody else.

  4. #4
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    You won't find too many swageing tools and tubing benders in resi work. Are you reinventing the wheel or starting your own company? By the way lots of brazing is six months straight eight hours a day. Do installation for at least a yr before becoming maintenance tech you will thank yourself later.
    Trying not to be a Hack.

  5. #5
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    May 2011
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    In service you see bits and pieces and plug them into the big picture, in your head, of what you imagine this system looks like.

    In construction and installation, you learn what that big picture really looks like. Walls and ceilings may be open, letting you see duct work and pipe runs.

    It really helps to walk through a few real world big pictures, so you can imagine them better and more easily later on when walls and ceilings obstruct mostly everything we work on.

    In service your riding around solo usually. In installs and construction you normally work on crews of two or more people. It's helpful to learn things from multiple teachers, by asking questions to more than one person. We all look at things a little differently and use different methods. It's nice to pick and choose tactics from more than one source.

  6. #6
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    Oct 2010
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    I do not like throwing new people into installation. I feel if you take someone new who doesn't know anything (and trust me right now you don't know anything) they learn how to do things in an order and repetition but they don't learn anything about air conditioning.

    You teach some one how to attach this color wire here, braze that like this, connect the duct work like this, and so on.

    Then you have someone with more experience come in and fix any problems, vacuum the system, and start it up.

    I prefer to stick new guys with the PM department, with a seasoned tech who needs a helping hand, move slow, teach what the parts are, how they work, how to diagnose problem, then after 6 months to a year you send them to do installs. Now they have an understanding of how the system works and how bad installs cause problems. They can use that info to do a better job and now they learn more about installing and have thee foresight to see an installation error.

    Then you make them a service technician. Now they know how it should have been installed, how it should have been taken care of, and why it isn't working. They are much faster at diagnostics and have a better understanding of what is required to change out parts well.

    I hate when companies train guys how to be mechanical monkeys instead of intelligent mechanics.
    If you're too "open" minded, your brains will fall out.
    Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

  7. #7
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    Nov 2013
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    Mass
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    I won't say it's necessary. I've never been "an installer". Yes, I've done installs.

    One area this hurts me, is sheet metal/tin knocking. I work around it, and ask questions if needed. That is a weakness.

    However, I've been a service tech since the start. But, I didn't start doing this until I was in my late 20s, and my previous life/career experiences are what allowed me to become a VERY proficient tech in a relatively short period of time.

    Every one is different.

    Chase

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Knowing how systems are put together, where things are usually located, and understanding the big picture is very important. Many times, my experience in installation has helped me solve the problem quicker or better than I would have without it. Hang in there. Try to find the smartest person you work with and latch onto them. Upgrade yourself, your tools, and your skills every chance you get and the money and opportunities will follow.
    "There is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals."

    -Thomas Jefferson

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by jtrammel View Post
    Necessary no, very helpful yes. Ever wonder why most all companies wIll only accept applications from guys with at least 3-5 years experience for a service tech? It takes a fair amount of on the job hands on experience to be a proficient tech. Put in your time in the trenches like everybody else.
    It's not so much that I don't want to put in my time "in the trenches", I'm planning on sticking with it - just as long as it helps me get a job doing service down the road. I was really just wondering if the idea "you have to do installation before going into service" is a universally agreed upon thing, or just something my employers told me so I wouldn't complain about the fact that I wasn't doing quite what I wanted to do.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by toocoolforschool View Post
    You won't find too many swageing tools and tubing benders in resi work. Are you reinventing the wheel or starting your own company? By the way lots of brazing is six months straight eight hours a day. Do installation for at least a yr before becoming maintenance tech you will thank yourself later.
    Not sure I follow about the "reinventing the wheel" comment, but I just kinda figured that incorporating a bender and swaging tool to do your linesets would make the job faster and easier. Am I wrong there?

  11. #11
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    Aug 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by salmacis81 View Post
    Not sure I follow about the "reinventing the wheel" comment, but I just kinda figured that incorporating a bender and swaging tool to do your linesets would make the job faster and easier. Am I wrong there?
    No

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    San Antonio, Tx
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    37
    I started in apt complexes, night school, then running service, now contracting. My weakness is figuring the boxes, mental block maybe, but seems different warehouses stock different stuff, and I know my ductwork isnt the best, but youd have to look pretty close to notice. Read this forum, and try to learn the theory of how/why the system works, to get the understanding of what the system is supposed to do. Once you have that with install, then service, then chart your own course. Starting on install helpful, but dont limit yourself, and know that that 6" long liquid line tatto is a badge of honor weve all proudly worn


    Sent from my SM-T217S using Tapatalk

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    North East Sunny Florida
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    I am new to the trade and have been doing a few replacement installs and think that is a good way to start.

    You get a macro overview of the complete system as you put it in.
    Remove and install of the condenser and evaporator with recovery and pump-down, There is a little duct work, thermostat and low voltage, high voltage and disconnects, line sets and welding, system flush, overflow sensors and condensate lines lines, nitro flush and leak test, vacuum and charging.

    You see it all in one shot.

    I like change-outs because I get to setup and tune in the final system the correct way as the manufacturers instructions recommend. Yes- I read directions. I charge to Sub-Cool or Super-Heat as required. And I know the system is performing as engineered and will perform as the customer expects.

    After you do a few installs, when you go on a service call, you'll understand the what part of the system is failing and know how to diagnose as you know how the whole system works.

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