Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic
Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics install, maintain and service residential, commercial, industrial and institutional heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration units and systems. Their duties include laying out reference points for installation, assembling and installing components, installing wiring to connect components to an electric power supply and calibrating related controls. They also measure, cut, bend, thread and connect pipe to functional components and utilities.
Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics maintain and service systems by testing components, brazing or soldering parts to repair defective joints, adjusting and replacing worn or defective components and reassembling repaired components and systems. As part of commissioning, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics start-up, test and charge systems.
In addition to their regular duties, some mechanics may also prepare work estimates and plan systems for clients.
Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics work with a range of tools and equipment including hand, power, charging, diagnostic and measuring, and recovery and recycling tools and equipment.
They may be employed by heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration contractors and manufacturers, property owners, retail establishments, and institutional and public sector employers. They also may be self-employed. Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics may work on systems and units in office buildings, restaurants, food processing plants, ice arenas, supermarkets, hospitals and ships. They may also work on refrigerated trucks, automotive air conditioning systems, box cars and appliances.
Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics work in various locations such as rooftops, mechanical rooms and computer rooms. The work may be performed indoors or outdoors year round and may require extensive traveling. Much of the work is performed independently.
Inherent risks in this trade include working at heights and in confined spaces, and working with compressed gases, utilities such as electrical, and hazardous chemicals.
Key attributes for people entering this trade are strong customer service, writing, oral communication and problem solving skills, and an eye for detail. Coordination and manual dexterity are also important, as are mechanical and mathematical abilities. Good physical condition and the strength to lift heavy components are also valuable.
This analysis recognizes similarities and overlaps with the work of steamfitters/pipefitters, plumbers, gasfitters, sheet metal workers, industrial mechanics (millwrights) and electricians.
With experience, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics may act as mentors and trainers of apprentices in the trade. They may also become specialized in one area of the trade, advance to supervisory positions or become instructors.