Industries that Employ Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics

Approximately 259,000 persons work as air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics. Cooling contractors employ most of these mechanics. Food chains, school systems, manufacturers, and other organizations use the services of airconditioning and refrigeration mechanics.

Large air-conditioning systems use many mechanics to keep the equipment operational. However, not all mechanics work for other people. About one in every seven mechanics is self-employed. Manufacturers use refrigeration equipment for a variety of processes. Meat packers and chemical makers use refrigeration in some form. Temperature control is very important for many manufacturing processes.

Mechanics work in homes, office buildings, and factories. They work anywhere there is air conditioning or refrigeration to be installed or serviced. They bring to the job sites the tools and parts they need. During the repair season, mechanics may do considerable driving.

Radio communications and cell phones may be used to dispatch them to the jobs. If major repairs are needed, mechanics will transport parts or inoperative machinery to a repair shop. Mechanics work in buildings that are often uncomfortable. This is because the air-conditioning or refrigeration system has failed.

The mechanic may have to work in a cramped position in an attic, a basement, or a crawl space. Rooftop units are a common practice in keeping smaller installations cool. Many of the systems have at least one unit on the roof of the building. Cooling towers are usually mounted on top of a building.

Thus, the mechanic may be called upon to work in high places. In summer, the rooftop may be very hot. This trade does require some hazardous work. For instance, there are the dangers of electric shock, torch burns, muscle strains, and other injuries from handling heavy equipment.

System installation calls for work with motors, compressors, condensing units, evaporators, and other components. These devices must be installed properly. This calls for the mechanic to be able to follow the designer’s specification. In most instances, blueprints are used to indicate where and how the equipment is to be installed.

The ability to read blueprints is essential for the air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanic. Such ability will help ensure that the ductwork, refrigerant lines, and electrical service are properly connected.

After making the connections, it is then necessary to charge the system with the proper refrigerant. Proper operation must be assured before the mechanic is through with the job.

Equipment installation is but one of the jobs the mechanic must perform. If the equipment fails, then the mechanic must diagnose the cause of the trouble and make the proper repairs. The mechanic must:

1. Find defects
2. Inspect parts
3. Be able to know if thermostats and relays are working correctly

During the winter, air-conditioning mechanics inspect parts such as relays and thermostats. They also perform required maintenance. Overhauling may be included if compressors need attention or recharging. They may also adjust the airflow ducts for the change of seasons.

Air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics use a number of special tools. They also use more common tools such as hammers, wrenches, metal snips, electric drills, pipe cutters and benders, and acetylene torches.

Air ducts and refrigeration lines require more specialized tools. Voltammeters are also part of the mechanic’s toolbox. Electric circuits and refrigeration lines must be tested and checked. Testing of electrical components is also required. A good background in electricity is necessary for any mechanic.

Cooling systems sometimes are installed or repaired by other craft workers. For example, on a large air conditioning installation job, especially where people are covered by union contracts, sheet-metal specialists might do ductwork.

Electricians will do electrical work. The installation of piping will be done by pipe fitters. However, in small towns or small companies, the AC man will probably have to do all these specialized skills.

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