Humankind has been attempting to control the elements from the earliest of times. While outside control is pretty nonexistent, inside homes and businesses there’s been great success. Through the push of a button, structures are made warmer or cooler, toxic fumes are ventilated away in industries, and high-rises have the same air quality on the 100th floor as on the first.
When it comes to the heating, air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration in homes, businesses and industries, it is the HVAC technician who runs the show. HVAC technicians, also known as HVAC/R (for refrigeration) technicians have the education, training, and skills to make sure the inside elements remain at optimum levels.
Wide Range Of Skills
HVAC technicians, perhaps more than any other trades professional, has a wide range of skills to cover the various components under their domain. It’s not just about heating and air conditioning, but proper ventilation for businesses and industries, as well as both home and restaurant refrigeration. They work on heating that can consist of one of three different systems – gas, oil, or electricity – and the how-to’s of installation, repair and maintenance are all a part of their job. They also have the knowledge needed regarding electrical circuitry to facilitate whatever phase of the work they are performing.
While some HVAC technicians may specialize – such as working in industry (cold storage, for one) – most master every area in heating, air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration. There are more homes than businesses and industries, so this broad knowledge makes the HVAC technician a key player in controlling the elements inside a home.
Varied Working Conditions
There’s not a lot that’s easy about the conditions HVAC technicians work in. Rain or shine, when an air conditioning unit on the roof of a three story building needs a repair, the technician will be climbing a ladder to fix it. Their next stop might be in a tight corner in a basement to fix a water heater. A third stop in their day may have them in sweltering conditions in a restaurant repairing the refrigeration system so thousands of dollars in food doesn’t spoil.
For HVAC technicians who are self employed, each day starts early and it’s more often than not that their day extends beyond the typical eight hours. Even new installations generally are done on a time table and repairs are often emergency in nature. Going without air conditioning or heating can be life threatening for vulnerable segments of the population and HVAC technicians need to be able to meet these emergencies in all weather conditions.
Education And Experience
While not as extensive as that undergone by master electricians and master plumbers, the training for HVAC technicians has to cover a great deal of ground. Different areas of the country depend on different sources for heat and the HVAC technician needs to have a thorough working knowledge of electrical, gas, and oil heating and how to repair and maintain systems from different manufacturers. There are environmentally toxic chemicals used in refrigeration and cooling systems and proper handling and disposal is vital.
Each HVAC technician receives approximately eighteen months to two years of classroom instruction, along with two to five years of working with an experienced technician, either one who is self-employed or one who is part of a construction company. Each tech undergoes EPA testing to become certified, as well as any local or state licensing to begin working as an independent contractor. As older, less efficient systems are replaced, HVAC technicians need to be up to speed on this newer technology to continue to experience success in their field.
The most applicable word for the job opportunities afforded to HVAC technicians is: extensive. Climate control – a catch all word for what these technicians do – is everywhere in modern society. While rural and farming communities may have fewer structures per acre, urban areas are full of homes and businesses that depend on the uninterrupted flow of heating and/or cooling, as well as refrigeration. Every restaurant has a room for food storage and the loss of cooling to that room can mean the loss of a great deal of money.
In cities there are high-rises and other multi-story apartment buildings, each dependent upon cooling or heating, and proper refrigeration, though on a smaller scale than a restaurant. For the HVAC technician, basically every building that houses food stuffs or where people live and/or work, is where there is opportunity for a HVAC technician.
The Green House Of The Future
EPA regulations change and technology develops that means more efficient refrigeration, heating, and cooling for homes and businesses. As environmentally harmful chemicals are banned or phased out of use, HVAC technicians will be the ones implementing installation of newer appliances and machinery. As the use of “smarter” machinery is initialized, HVAC technicians will be removing older units and replacing them with the new technology. This results in HVAC technicians being on the forefront of going green.
From geo-thermal heating to tankless water heaters to dual stage compressor air conditioning units, homes and businesses are moving into green energy use. The advantages are clear – lower energy use, more environmentally friendly, and lower cost to the consumer.
There’s not a lot that can be done to turn a cold rainy day into something that is pleasant, but there’s a lot of control in how people experience their indoor lives. From “too hot” to “just right” to every aspect of the indoor climate, the HVAC technician makes the living and working experience a bit more friendly to all.
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