Technicians often feel pressure to work quickly. Many technicians have quotas- either the number of calls per day or revenue dollars per day. Even without an explicit quota, everyone works on a quota. You have to make money for your company or they cannot afford to employ you. If you are working for yourself, you have to make money to pay your bills. It can be difficult to put this out of our mind when we are working. There are some tricks you can use to maximize your productivity that are helpful, and there are some shortcuts that can get you in trouble. I believe that you save time overall by not skipping steps, but you can arrange your work flow to avoid wasted time. First, take the time to talk to the customer to find out what the complaint is and ask questions. Often, symptoms that the customer has noticed may give you some clues. Next, I always want to see the thermostat to verify that it is set correctly and calling for the system to operate. There are a significant number of customers that do not know how to operate their systems, especially with today’s programmable touchscreen digital thermostats. If the indoor blower is not running, set the fan switch to “On” to see if it comes on. If it does you know that the indoor unit has power, the transformer is providing control voltage, and of course that the fan and its control are working. If the fan does not come on, you have a good idea of where to start checking. Always do the easy stuff first. This is not just being lazy, it is being time efficient. It is never wrong to check the air filter; that should be done on each call anyway. If the filter is blocked you are wasting your time trying to adjust the charge. More often than not, the problem is a relatively simple issue. While you are changing the filter, take a look at the vent if the system is a gas or oil furnace. I have found vents rusted through while under a house checking a stopped drain in the summer. If you are the last HVAC/R technician at someone’s house, you have a responsibility for the safety of the system. For more ideas on efficient troubleshooting, check out Unit 86 Troubleshootng in Fundamentals of HVAC/R.