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When a refrigeration unit in a home or business requires repair or maintenance, a refrigeration technician is customarily contacted to assess the condition of the machine and make repairs. He is generally expected to analyze the malfunction, explain the problem to the owner or manager and recommend options. These options typically include repair, parts replacement or scrapping the entire unit as not worth the cost of repairs. The technician is commonly expected have good knowledge of these alternatives through his experience and education.
After the problem is described to him, a refrigeration technician customarily performs a series of tests to isolate the source of the malfunction. This generally entails checking connections and lines for leaks. He also ordinarily utilizes thermometers to check temperatures in different areas of the unit. Other testing devices are often used to gauge pressure and air flow levels.
If these tests detect no malfunctions, the technician commonly proceeds to other methods of system analysis. He normally takes apart each section of the refrigeration system and individually tests the parts and components. This investigation commonly involves the use of pneumatic, electrical and mechanical examination tools. The parts of a refrigeration unit that most commonly require repair or replacement include cooling lines, evaporators and pipes. Compressors, motors and condensing units are also regular sources of refrigeration problems.
Depending on the nature of the problem, a refrigeration technician uses various skills related to his profession to troubleshoot. If a part or piece of the unit is only slightly damaged, he can normally make repairs using soldering or brazing tools. The same applies to leaks in tubes or conduit. Repairing or adjusting these components is normally significantly less costly than replacing them.
A refrigeration technician may also be required to read and interpret blueprints and schematics to effectively perform his job. If he suspects the problem originated in faulty wiring, he may need to study the blueprints of the room in which the refrigeration unit is located to determine the wiring pattern. The schematics of the unit itself may require interpretation if the problem is suspected to be an internal one.
Efficiency in record maintenance is essential to the success of a refrigeration technician. He is regularly required to document malfunctions and parts replacement to justify repair costs. If a unit is under warranty, he is normally required to submit detailed paperwork to substantiate the claim. Filling out work orders and parts requisition forms is also a normal part of the technician’s job.
Although it is still possible in some situations to become a refrigerator technician through on-the-job training, most employers require technical education or formal apprenticeship training to qualify for the position. Certificates in handling hazardous materials may also be required since certain refrigerants may be toxic. Good mechanical aptitude demonstrated in previous positions is highly valued.