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The Importance of Understanding The Fundamentals, Part One

No one in the HVACR service business will argue that the end result of getting a piece of non-operating equipment functioning again isn’t the bottom line for a technician. As I mentioned last week, getting paid is, after all, what it’s about in the end, and the way we get there is to accomplish our assigned task for our customer….which is to fix their stuff. And fixing their stuff requires a specialized set of skills that are far above the understanding of the general public, something we can correctly refer to as “advanced” skills. However, the fact that we employ these advanced skills doesn’t discount the fact that troubleshooting can only be effectively accomplished when the technician has a good grip on the fundamentals of HVACR.

And, by the way, considering “HVACR” itself is a good place to start when discussing the importance of fundamentals……HVACR: Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, & Refrigeration, as everybody knows when it comes to what the letter themselves mean, but what about a deeper understanding of this well-known acronym?

Cosider this information, which is from a reply to a question that asked for input on what technicians should be taught first, as they enter the HVACR industry:

Heating (H) influences the relative humidity, vapor pressures, drafts, material integrity, durability, and material VOC emission rates and the mean radiant and operative temperature. It does not apply exclusively to air but to any mass including the heating of water for process and domestic use and surface conditioning such as radiant heating (and negative heating i.e. radiant cooling) panels;

Ventilation (V) in and by itself does not guarantee air quality as its function is to move air mass, i.e. exhaust indoor air and replace it with outdoor air, and this process provides the opportunity for;

Air Conditioning (AC) or preferably “Conditioning the Air” (CA); accomplished through deodorization, decontamination, dehumidification and dilution as well as velocity and temperature control. Since this part of the definition excludes cooling with radiation, radiant cooling is considered as negative heating above.

Thus, the H in HVAC is not exclusively heating air for comfort, the V is not exclusively air quality and the AC is not exclusively cooling air for comfort.

And that, as they say in the meat market, “wraps that up nice and tight”. It’s a detailed, down-to-earth definition of the process of creating comfort and wellness for our customer (VOC stands for Volatiile Organic Compounds….tobacco smoke, building products, etc…), and while somebody could argue that it’s too ‘engineering-like’ for a service technician because the task at hand for somebody running service calls is not about designing a system, but fixing it instead, they would be wrong.

I’m not saying that every time a technician enounters a system that’s not operating properly that they need to crack open their fundamentals manual and recite the above before taking the necessary steps to evaluate a system and determing what specific repair or which specific part needs to be replaced, but what I am saying is that having a complete understanding of something as simple as “HVAC”….we’ll get to the “R” in HVACR in Part Two of this series….gives the technician a certain level of confidence regarding their ability to solve the problem they are facing at the moment. And that confidence is gained through simply eliminating the mysteries of the fundamental of air movement and treatment, heat transfer via refrigeration, and the electrical principles that lead to development of the skills related to reading and interpeting schematic diagrams, testing components, and ultimately isolating the source of the problem.

Until next week…..

Learn from yesterday…..Live for today…..Look forward to tomorrow