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  1. #1
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    Refrigeration vs. HVAC Technician?

    Hi, how difficult is it to cross-train a good service technician to be a decent refrigeration tech? I ask because right now, we only service and replace HVAC units. However, I have a great client that wants us to do refrigeration work as well. I would like to know how difficult it is to learn the refrigeration trade for a competent HVAC tech?

  2. #2
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    It depends on what kind of refrigeration. I taught myself enough to do medium and low temp work on racks, which wasn’t bad after doing a couple small walk in standalone split systems. But if someone asked me to work on a chiller I wouldn’t even hesitate before bowing out.

  3. #3
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    It’s my general opinion, that a refrigeration tech will find it easier to transition to hvac service vs hvac service going to refrigeration. They seem to have a better grasp on wiring and working with various different refrigerants.
    Install is a whole different world. I wouldn’t expect someone that does mostly install to transition well to refrigeration.
    “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas Edison

    “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” - Vince Lombardi

    "In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics" - Homer Simpson

    Local 486 Instructor & Service Technician

  4. #4
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    Sep 2002
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    THe first time you pull the cover off a freezer evap and see all of the wiring , your'e gonna be like

    Its like starting all over again with learning how everything works

    Its also very stressful because most of the time you have thousands of dollars in food about to spoil if you dont get it going NOW

    8-5 hour day you can kiss goodbye , its more like 6-10 some days

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snapperhead View Post
    8-5 hour day you can kiss goodbye , its more like 6-10 some days
    Yeah, that’s very accurate. The first time you find a dead compressor at 5 PM, then find the only supply house with a replacement is an hour plus drive. So you go get it, come back, and get to work. Worked many an emergency job into the early morning hours. Sucks when you see the same time on the clock twice without being home.
    Refrigeration also includes..........morgues. It’s something to get that emergency call at 3 am.
    “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas Edison

    “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” - Vince Lombardi

    "In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics" - Homer Simpson

    Local 486 Instructor & Service Technician

  6. #6
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    Dec 2018
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    I once worked 21 hours straight doing HVAC, I topped that by working 27 hours straight doing Refrig.

    Sent using Tapatalk Pro

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rider77 View Post
    It’s my general opinion, that a refrigeration tech will find it easier to transition to hvac service vs hvac service going to refrigeration. They seem to have a better grasp on wiring and working with various different refrigerants.
    Install is a whole different world. I wouldn’t expect someone that does mostly install to transition well to refrigeration.
    ^^^^^^^
    Honeywell you can buy better but you cant pay more

    I told my wife when i die to sell my fishing stuff for what its worth not what i told her i paid for it

  8. #8
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    Ive pulled many 16 hr days , get 7 hrs sleep , do it again , but thats about all i can handle

  9. #9
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    It's never the Situation - it's always the Man.

    A good man in comfort cooling who is exposed to Refrigeration will absolutely blossom, grab it with both hands, and say: Where have you been all my life? And then start chasing it as far as it will lead him. A so-so man in comfort cooling who is exposed to Refrigeration will cringe and choke and say: Keep this crap away from Me!

    PHM
    ---------


    Quote Originally Posted by Baja Mechanical View Post
    Hi, how difficult is it to cross-train a good service technician to be a decent refrigeration tech? I ask because right now, we only service and replace HVAC units. However, I have a great client that wants us to do refrigeration work as well. I would like to know how difficult it is to learn the refrigeration trade for a competent HVAC tech?
    PHM
    --------
    The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.

  10. Likes heatingman, Juan Madera liked this post
  11. #10
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    Aug 2016
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    I enjoyed doing the walk ins that I worked on in the hospital. I was kind of thrown into it head first. The wiring did kinda throw me for a loop at first but after about 20 minutes of staring at it I figured it out. The crappy part is when something was wired all sorts of funky like 20 years ago and no one changed it or noted how it was supposed to work but since it worked no one cared.

    Yea morgues are kinda wierd but I've seen enough dead bodies in my life that they dont bother me. A couple years ago me and one of the fitter apprentices had to climb into a body cooler rack to repair a drain line. By the way there were still bodies in there. That was interesting. Another time I almost dumped a body off the gurneys trying to move it to see what the set point was so I could set the identical walk in cooler next to it after repairing it. I've had to fix duct work above the morgue while they were doing an autopsy, which is interesting to watch.

    With what experience I have I can confidently get most small refer systems up and running. Now supermarkets I'm screwed though.

    The worse part about refrigeration is fixing the small stuff like reach in coolers on a cook line. Its ****ing gross. Rotten food and other nasties that were food at one point. Laying on a nasty floor while people kick you on accident as they walk by. Never did any restaurants only the hospital cafeteria which I suppose is a bit better but still.

    Also why does every kitchen have the same tile? Like is no other tile allowed to go into kitchens?

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  13. #11
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    If I have to get down on the floor , first thing I do is grab a cardboard box and tear it in half

    Removing the plastic compressor cover is always fun when 50 roaches come running at you

  14. #12
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    Dec 2018
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    Around here, CKE is commonly referred to as trash work. Hey, but some guys like doing it and the larger contractors bill equal to Applied/Industrial rates.

    Sent using Tapatalk Pro

  15. #13
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    Jun 2006
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    I would say my own observations led themselves to the air to refrigeration transition being the more difficult one. it is not so much that it is different, it is how much less forgiving refrigeration work is to following all the rules.

    Some books will say that air conditioning work is about 80-85% electrical item failure, motors, caps, relays, roll outs etc. I have found that to be a fair estimate, refrigeration on the other hand imho has more mechanical failures and the item failed is not always the cause so a bit more time is taken in the actual system evaluation.

    Air guys, especially residential techs move FAST and that may well serve the client and boss well, in refrigeration it will lead to excessive call backs, additional repairs, and product loss.

    A good example, small unit cycling off on overload due to high head. in air you are pretty safe with a motor change out, on a small refer unit, you are likely to need to change the starting components and overload as well. you may even find the cap tube plugged up and if you just swap the motor your going to be coming back within 30 days.

    Getting good techs to transition from being very fast to being very complete in their evaluations can be a struggle. I would also add that this can also be a boss driven problem, hurry hurry hurry, can indeed be costly in either part of the trade, but it just seems in refrigeration it lends itself to more important items getting skipped.

    One example, fairly big refer unit comp killed and an air tech was on the job, didn't replace the pipe clamp on the hot gas line after the vibration eliminator. When asked why, said it was big pipe that wasn't going anywhere or rattling so he didn't bother, it was late. 24 days later unit is down with a crack at the headmaster. 80 lbs of 404 and a days labor later, it was an expensive decision based on a lack of experience and being in a hurry.

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