In-house training programs for HVACR technicians can be broken down into three categories. First, there’s the process of bringing on new hires, or bringing someone up from installation to service, and making sure that this group has the fundamentals training they need in order to become an effective service technician. Second, there’s the seasoned technician who needs to be brought up-to-date on new developments and the equipment changes that are a result of that ever-evolving process in the HVAC industry. And, the third category applies to both of these groups…. their professional development from the perspective of interpersonal skills; customer service and communication skills, and, of course, sales skills.
A Fundamentals Perspective
One of the major challenges that service managers and contractors deal with when training a new technician is what I refer to as haphazard experiences. What I mean by this is that when a technician in training is assigned to ride along on service calls, the experiences are haphazard simply because of the way a technician’s service day rolls out. The first call of the day may be a package unit heat pump with an air flow or refrigeration system problem. The second one can be a split system that employs a gas furnace as an air handler, and the third can be another type of system, etc….etc…. throughout the day. And regardless of how effective a senior technician is at explaining specific components, test procedures, and replacement of a failed part, a significant percentage of the learning comes about in fits and starts, which means that for the trainee, it can be a jumble.
To keep the confusion that is a characteristic of the field training experience, your trainee needs structure. A training program that provides a logical sequence of the absolute fundamentals of electricity, refrigeration, and air flow, and serves two purposes: First, to eliminate the mystery behind things like current flow and the laws of thermodynamics, and second, to give trainees someplace to put the mountain of information that comes their way on a daily basis.
When it comes to lesson content regarding electrical fundamentals, the topics that help a new technician bring it all together are these:
…Electrical generating stations and the electrical grid
…Fundamentals of conductors, semi-conductors and insulators
…Schematic symbols and the structure of wiring diagrams
…Component identification and tracing circuits, the difference between loads and switches
…Proper use of test instruments and electrical safety, voltage, resistance, and amperage measurements
On the refrigeration side:
…Fundamental laws of thermodynamics that allow refrigeration systems to transfer heat
…The four basic components of any refrigeration system
…The refrigeration cycle and the state of the refrigerant as it enters and exits components
…Refrigerants and oils
…The temperature-pressure relationship between refrigerants and temperature/pressure charts
…Evacuation, dehydration and refrigerant recovery procedures
…The relationship between refrigeration system operation and proper indoor and outdoor air flow
…Proper use of gauges and coil temperature splits
…Fundamentals of superheat and subcooling
And, when it comes to air flow:
…Properties of air
…Psychrometric charts and how they illustrate basic heating and cooling processes
…Air volume and velocity, and static pressure in a duct system
…Air flow measurement devices
With these very fundamental topics covered in your in-house training program, you’ve laid the foundation for further study on the more detailed subjects of HVACR system performance, electrical and refrigeration system evaluation and troubleshooting, and how to use manufacturer specific information regarding servicing and troubleshooting procedures.
We’ll continue our discussion on this subject in Part Two.
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