Contractor Insights

Keep on Training, In Spite of Defections
Don Steffen says an occasional employee defection doesn’t alter his views on the importance of training.
“You have to be committed to training, and realize that there will be a certain number of employees who will take the education you provide and go to a competitor, however, you must continue to educate your technicians,” says Steffen, president of AAA Refrigeration, Bronx, NY.
AAA operates three offices, serving New York City, Albany, Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and part of Massachusetts.
Steffen is impressed by improvements in manufacturers’ willingness and ability to provide more product information via the Internet.
“More manufacturers are putting information online; if technicians get stuck during a job, they can use a laptop to find a wiring diagram, or whatever they might need” he says. “and help desk personnel can walk them through diagnostics.”
However, even in the absence of hard data, Steffen says a good technician should be able to rely on his or her aptitude to find the answers.
“A good technician has a lot of common sense, and is good at problem solving,” Steffen explains, with an emphasis on doing it by the book.
“Today, more than ever, you have to solve the problem the correct way, not try to bypass systems just to get the equipment running. If you bypass the system, it comes back to haunt you.”
Steffen is impressed by the amount of in-person training manufacturers are willing to provide.
“There has to be a tremendous amount of support within the corporation to bring people in to meet with various manufacturers’ representatives,” he says. “They can tell you how the product works, and what to look for during service or installation.
“All manufacturers offer training, you just have to contact them early enough, so they can fit you into their schedules.”
Refrigeration Demand Helps Employees
Steffen believes the year-long demand for refrigeration system maintenance is an advantage for dedicated employees.
“Refrigeration is a 24/7/365 business,” Steffen says. “If you’re hired by a refrigeration company, continue your education, and take pride in yourself, your chances of a career with one firm increase, as refrigeration isn’t subject to seasonality.”
Among its product choices, AAA uses all types of Copeland compressors, and Browning air moving devices, motors, and belts. Steffen says he appreciates the advantages of using well-made products.
“There are two ways you can buy,” Steffen says. “You can buy cheap, and the result is higher service expenses. If you buy quality products, you minimize repeat service calls due to nothing more than product failure.”
Follow Proper Procedures When Using R-410A
John Foster, general manager of the Refrigeration Division for Mingledorff’s Distributors, Norcross, GA, provided a variety of safety and service information related to R-410A refrigerant during the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society Annual Meeting. Foster’s recommendations include:
* For proper system preparation, use tools rated for R-410A. Make sure you have a set of R-410A manifolds, and that you have premade, correct size linesets.
* R-410A, as with other HFCs, is only compatible with POE oils. Vacuum pumps will not remove moisture from oil.
* Do not use liquid-line filter driers with rated working pressures less than 600 PSI. Make sure that when you pick up the drier at your distributor, that it is compatible with R-410A.
* Do not install a suction-line filter drier in the liquid line.
* Never open a system to the atmosphere while it is under a vacuum.
* Do not vent R-410A into the atmosphere.
u Observe all warnings, cautions, and bold text that appear on the unit.
* Do not use capillary tube indoor coils. Make sure you use an expansion valve coil in an R-410A system
* R-410A refrigerant operates at 50% to 70% higher pressures than R-22. Be sure that servicing equipment and replacement components are designed to operate with R-410A refrigerant.

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