Technology is Great, But Don't Forget the Basics

Technology has been advancing in our industry so fast the last few years it seems almost impossible to keep up. Electronic thermostats, hot surface ignition, and printed circuit boards have replaced most things
mechanical.

While we all scramble to keep up with training on the latest and greatest products on the market, we can’t forget to train the basics. Many up-and-coming technicians haven’t spent a lot of time troubleshooting thermocouples, thermopiles, and millivolt systems. It hit home a few months back when one of my techs, who has been with us for six years, called and asked for help on a furnace that was short cycling. He said if he put a jumper wire across R and W, it seemed to work fine, and he was getting ready to replace the thermostat. When I asked if the stat had an adjustable heat anticipator, and if he had checked it, he asked, “How do I do that?”

I’m not trying to single out this tech; even 20-year veterans sometimes forget the basics.

Something many technicians are guilty of is rolling blower belts on and off without loosening the tension on the motor. It’s not a big problem on small, single-groove pulleys where the belt doesn’t have to be very tight.

However, on bigger, three-phase motors with multi-groove pulleys, the belts have to be almost banjo string tight. Rolling them on without loosening the tension can break the inner cords, which can cause them to stretch or break.

Have you ever found a belt running upside down? It was probably installed right side up. However, because someone rolled the belt on, and broke the cords on one side, it rolled over in the grooves.

I have found that a few simple reminders of the basics during tech meetings can really cut down on things like, “Oh yeah, mercury bulb stats have to be level to work properly!”

Dave Galbreath is the service manager at Seaman’s Heating/Air Conditioning/Refrigeration in Grand Rapids, MI.
He can be reached at 616/458-1544.

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