The HVAC industry is extensive, comprised of professionals specializing in heat, air and/or refrigeration. Many who pursue this line of work focus on certain areas; however their HVAC/R training involves aspects of the industry as a whole. A well-rounded foundation in all aspects of heating, ventilation and air conditioning enables any professional, no matter their specialty, to better carry out their duties. With all of this talk of specialization in the HVAC industry, you might be curious about at least one of the focus areas, so let’s dive into refrigeration this time around. We’ll cover what the refrigeration specialty is, common duties associated with it and necessary skills for success.
What are Refrigeration Mechanics and Technicians?
Refrigeration mechanics and technicians in the HVAC industry are the professionals who create and maintain a climate-controlled environment in terms of temperature, humidity, and air quality in a variety of buildings, including homes, factories, high-rise offices, shops and hospitals. These professionals may be required to put together and install refrigeration and HVAC equipment as well as maintain and repair it in industrial, domestic or commercial settings. In addition to large air conditioning units, machinery that a refrigeration specialist deals with may also include condensing units, evaporators and compressors.
Proper construction and maintenance of refrigeration systems is essential, as these are necessary for our safety regarding the storage of perishables, such as food and medicine. In their day-to-day endeavors, refrigeration mechanics and technicians not only maintain systems but also strictly adhere to government standards in carrying out all that they do. This is because the EPA has very specific requirements for the refrigeration industry as a whole, as refrigerants that are used are often dangerous chemicals. Therefore, specialists become officially certified in and follow rules regarding handling, conservation, disposal, recycling and recovery of refrigerant fluids.
The Duties of a Refrigeration Specialist
Refrigeration mechanics and technicians alike have a wide array of responsibilities that contribute to the overall functioning of refrigeration systems. Such professionals oversee systems from beginning to end, starting with building various components with tools and welding equipment. Through the process, these technicians connect refrigeration lines and electrical components throughout the system.
When problems are discovered in a building’s refrigeration or AC systems, or regular maintenance is simply required, refrigeration specialists are tasked with providing the essential solutions. HVAC refrigeration technicians assess system functioning, working on problems as they arise, such as mechanical issues. General maintenance may include looking for and fixing equipment leaks, refrigerant reclaiming (processing used refrigerant gas so that it may be reused) or maintaining compressors in cooling machines. In performing these and similar tasks, refrigeration specialists must understand the components and materials that they’re working with, so they often rely on blueprints to determine the type, capacity and physical size of a new construction or repair of refrigeration system parts. Refrigeration technicians can find a home in any of several larger industries. Some opportunities include:
- Working in appliance repair – maintaining and fixing residential AC units and/or refrigerators
- On-call repair – acting as a contract repair-person for corporate clients when needed
As with any position, those in the refrigeration field must possess additional attributes and skills to be successful. HVAC refrigeration requires a good combination of technical, service and interpersonal skills. While some of these may develop over time, it’s beneficial to have a firm grasp upon entry into the field. A few of these vocational skills include:
- A detail-oriented nature and extreme accuracy for individual tasks
- Ability to be self-sufficient when needed but also easily work well with others
- Exceptional customer relations skills that are necessary in client interactions
- Flexibility and dexterity for working in small spaces and manipulating large equipment
- Problem-solving, troubleshooting and mathematical knowledge to effectively make repairs
Refrigeration work offers a wide variety of opportunities for professionals in the industry. Mechanics and technicians alike perform varied repair work on everything from AC units to larger refrigeration systems, which provides both challenging and ever-changing duties. But these professionals must also hone skills that range from component troubleshooting to customer interaction. Refrigeration requires dedication, but it could be the perfect career path!
Learn more about How to Become a Refrigeration Technician.