Sunday, October 14, 2012

Service Tech's Secret

Most of the truly outstanding technicians that I have met have one thing in common – they read a lot. Reading is their trade secret. One example of this is Chris Mohalley. He is the Genteq™ Certified Master ECM Trainer. He has created a nationally-recognized ECM training program and he travels the country spreading the ECM gospel. He serves as a NATE Technical Committee SME, a NATE proctor and ARI Chief EPA Examiner. He holds so many NATE Certifications that his shirt looks like a quilt. In short, he knows his shit. So I asked him one time how he became so erudite. His response, he reads a lot! Personally, I try to read something related to my field every day. At least once a week you should find something that peaks your interest and dig a little deeper. Information is now easier than ever to access. Take advantage of it! The amount of information that can be readily accessed on the internet is really staggering. When the EPA “Final Ruling" on ozone depleting substances was published in May of 1993, I had to go to the library at the University of Georgia to view it in the Federal Register. Now you can pull up the Federal Register online anytime you want. If you are not familiar with the Federal Register, it is the official government publication containing all the announcements, pronouncements, and new regulations of all Federal Agencies. This is where they post proposed rulings, and what are called “Final” rulings. Basically, a “Final Ruling" means that now it is law. There will definitely be more rulings to come. If you want to know exactly what the rules really say without any filtering by someone else, you want to read them for yourself at the Federal Register. That said, the Federal Register is some of the most tedious reading I have ever seen. Further, there is a lot of it. The Federal Register is published weekly. In its paper form, it is about the size of a phone book for a city the size of Athens Georgia. In other words, it is might be possible to read ALL of the Federal Register by yourself, but that would be about all you did. Thankfully, search engines let us look for all the juicy parts without reading the entire tedious tome.

Thankfully, there are many outlets for HVACR information which are really interesting, such as the RSES Journal. This month’s Journal has a great article on micro-channel coils and why manufacturers are looking at using micro-channel evaporator coils. You might even pick up a copy of a text, like Fundamentals of HVACR and read it one unit at a time. At one unit a week, you will finish the book in a little over a year and a half – there are 92 Units. You can pick up a lot just by looking at the material posted by manufacturers and distributors online. One caveat on web surfing – realize that the freedom for anyone to publish on the web means that there are products, policies, and procedures espoused that may not be in your best interest to pursue. A case in point: the flammable R-22 replacement refrigerants that are NOT EPA approved. They are mixtures of propane and butane. They absolutely should NOT be used to replace R-22 in an existing system. Remember, nothing in that original system was designed with a flammable refrigerant in mind. Always look to see who is posting the information. If you read a lot you will learn to sort out the fact from fiction. Thanks for reading!

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