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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanics (7313)

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics install and maintain, repair and overhaul residential central air conditioning systems, commercial and industrial refrigeration and air conditioning systems and combined heating, ventilation and cooling systems. They are employed by refrigeration and air conditioning installation contractors, various industrial settings, food wholesalers, engineering firms and retail and servicing establishments. Transport refrigeration mechanics are included in this unit group.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read reminders and short notes from co-workers, e.g. read notes from other tradespeople to learn how to access a worksite. (1)
  • Read short instructions written on signs, labels and packaging, e.g. read product labels to learn how to mix refrigerants. (1)
  • Read short text entries on a variety of forms and technical drawings, e.g. read comments on work orders to ensure that the correct piece of equipment is being installed. (1)
  • Read safety-related information, e.g. read Material Safety Data Sheets to learn how to safely handle refrigerants and other toxic materials. (2)
  • Read bulletins and memos, e.g. read manufacturer's technical service bulletins to learn about modifications and solutions for repetitive system failures. (3)
  • Read magazine and website articles, e.g. read articles in HPAC to learn about the design and use of digital scroll compressors. (3)
  • Read a variety of installation, repair and maintenance manuals, e.g. read detailed diagnostic procedures in repair manuals to learn how to troubleshoot and repair malfunctioning compressors. (3)
  • Read regulations, e.g. read regulations to learn the rules governing the transportation of dangerous goods and the use of ozone depleting substances. (4)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Observe hazard and safety icons, e.g. recognize hazard signs posted at work sites that warn of flammable and combustible materials, high voltage electricity and compressed gas. (1)
  • Look at a variety of manufacturers' labels to locate part numbers, serial numbers, sizes, colours and other information. (1)
  • Complete a variety of forms, e.g. complete start up sheets, job estimates, permits and work orders by entering details, such as names, dates, settings, times and costs. (2)
  • Locate data, such as sizes, classifications, material coefficients, grades, pressures, flows, quantities, identification numbers and costs, in specification tables. (3)
  • View graphed data, e.g. analyze temperature graphs of refrigerated unit sensors over a two-week period to diagnose equipment problems. (3)
  • Interpret complex scale drawings, e.g. study scale drawings to determine sites for equipment installation, routing for ducting and pipes and the location of control boxes, vents and air boxes. (4)
  • Interpret complex schematic drawings, e.g. study wiring system schematics to locate capacities and components, such as circuits, and to troubleshoot faults. (4)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write brief reminder notes, e.g. write a brief note to remind co-workers about the particulars of an upcoming installation. (1)
  • Write brief notes in a variety of log books and forms, e.g. write a description of an equipment fault in a work order. (1)
  • Write incident reports, e.g. complete incident reports for workers' compensation boards to describe events leading up to accidents. (2)
  • May write technical service reports, e.g. write a detailed three-page report outlining the cause of an air conditioning system failure, repair options and recommendations. (3)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy
  • Total the cost of parts when preparing orders for suppliers. (1)
  • Take a variety of measurements using basic tools, e.g. measure length of piping using tape measures. (1)
  • Compare readings to specifications, e.g. compare an air conditioning system's pressure readings to specifications. (1)
  • Estimate the length of ducting or pipe required. (1)
  • May approve payment for invoices submitted by suppliers, verifying the accuracy of the charges for parts ordered and received. (2)
  • May schedule the completion of complex projects by considering tasks, lead times and the availability of labour and parts. (2)
  • Calculate material requirements, e.g. calculate the areas and volumes of ducting and piping assemblies to determine the cost of materials and supplies. (2)
  • Calculate averages across sets of readings on the energy consumption to compare different systems. (2)
  • Estimate the time and material costs to install an additional run of piping. (2)
  • May calculate amounts for estimates and invoices. They multiply hours worked by labour rates and add amounts for materials, supplies and applicable taxes. (3)
  • Take precise measurements, e.g. use micrometers to check the shaft sizes of bearings when replacing parts. (3)
  • Calculate capacities, e.g. calculate the internal area of a closed piping system to determine the volume of refrigerant required in a system. (3)
  • Analyze multiple temperature and air flow readings to evaluate air conditioning system functions and troubleshoot faults, e.g. compare measurements of air flow to calculated and predicted values at various points in the system to identify the location of leaks. (3)
  • Estimate factors, such as volume, temperature and average load size, to identify the type of refrigeration system required for a mobile unit. (3)
  • Calculate rolling offsets when installing fittings and venting systems, e.g. use offset distances, changes in elevations, Pythagorean formula and trigonometry tables to determine the required lengths of pipe. (4)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Speak with suppliers and dispatchers, e.g. speak with dispatchers to report worksite delays and other problems. (1)
  • Talk to other tradespeople about a wide variety of topics, e.g. speak with construction electricians to coordinate work activities. (2)
  • Speak to customers to discuss equipment faults, projects and the maintenance and operation of the heating, ventilation or air conditioning equipment. (2)
  • May provide detailed step-by-step instructions to contractors, apprentices and other tradespeople, e.g. explain how to install an air makeup unit to an apprentice while demonstrating the procedures. (3)
  • Exchange technical repair and troubleshooting information with co-workers, colleagues and manufacturers, e.g. explain complex repair procedures to co-workers and discuss unusual air conditioning system faults with manufacturers' technical representatives. (3)
Thinking Help - Thinking
  • Encounter delays due to equipment breakdowns and shortages of materials. They inform equipment repairers and supervisors about the equipment faults and perform other work until repairs are completed. (1)
  • Decide the order of repair and maintenance jobs, e.g. give priority to small tasks that can be turned around quickly. (1)
  • Are unable to meet deadlines due to heavy workloads and projects which take longer than anticipated to complete. They call customers to inform them of delays, enlist the help of co-workers and may work overtime to complete high priority work. (2)
  • Encounter unsafe conditions. They speak with supervisors about their concerns and perform other work until safety hazards have been rectified. (2)
  • Encounter customers who dispute service bills. They review the bill with the customer to explain the cost of each item. If the dispute cannot be resolved, they refer the customer to their supervisor. (2)
  • Discover that the physical worksite does not match the layout shown in drawings. They advise customers and supervisors of the problem and complete other work until the needed drawings are available. (2)
  • Decide which parts need to be replaced for general maintenance and schedule the work to minimize disruption of service. (2)
  • Determine the most efficient, safe and economic equipment selection or repair options to offer customers. (2)
  • Decide how to troubleshoot an equipment fault by considering the nature of the malfunction and the type of equipment being serviced. (2)
  • Evaluate the safety of work sites. They consider the hazards presented by elements, such as working from heights and in confined spaces. (2)
  • Evaluate the preparedness of job sites for air conditioning system installations. They consider the adequacy of access to work areas, lighting and protection from inclement weather. (2)
  • May evaluate the performance of apprentices. They consider apprentices' abilities to diagnose and troubleshoot faults, locate information, such as specifications, and complete repairs effectively. (2)
  • Refer to parts catalogues and speak with suppliers to determine the cost of materials and supplies. (2)
  • Locate information about the products they use by visiting manufacturers' websites, reading labels, product descriptions and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and talking to co-workers and suppliers. (2)
  • Assess the quality of air conditioning system installations and repairs. They take readings and measurements, observe the appearance of joints and check for signs of leaks. (3)
  • Locate information about mechanical faults by reviewing work orders, completing physical inspections, using scan tools and speaking with customers and co-workers. (3)
  • Find how to troubleshoot faults by conducting Internet research, reading manuals and speaking with other tradespeople and help desk technicians. (3)
  • May be given their work orders for the day and can set them up according to efficient use of travel time or they may be given assignments with priorities already established. They may have to work on more than one project at a time and must reorder their schedules accordingly. They may be called away from a worksite for an emergency job and then return to complete the first job later. They may have to integrate their work plans with others to meet deadlines, such as inspection dates, and meet the needs of their customers. They may also have to coordinate their work with other trades, especially on large work sites. (3)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • May use databases to input customer contract information and the model number of heating and ventilation systems installed. (1)
  • Use calculators and personal digital assistant (PDA) devices to complete numeracy-related tasks, such as calculating material requirements. (1)
  • May use hand-held tools, such as electronic air quality measuring devices, to measure concentration levels of refrigerants. (1)
  • May use hand-held devices, such as infrared thermography cameras, to locate and troubleshoot equipment faults. (1)
  • May use word processing to write technical reports. (2)
  • May use databases to retrieve repair information and technical drawings. (2)
  • May use communications software to communicate with clients and suppliers by email. (2)
  • May communicate with other refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics on blogs and forums to provide advice and learn how to repair unusual faults. (2)
  • Use the Internet to visit manufacturers' websites to access recent technical service bulletins, recall notices, frequently asked questions and specifications. (2)
  • Use the Internet to access articles to stay current on industry trends and practices. (2)
  • Use the Internet to access training courses and seminars offered by suppliers, employers and trade schools. (2)
  • May use the Internet to access blogs and web forums to seek and offer troubleshooting and other technical advice. (2)
  • May use hand-held computers for real-time billing. (2)
Additional information Help - Additional information Working with Others

The extent to which refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics work with others varies, depending on the type of work they are involved in. Mechanics who provide service and repair for refrigerated transportation units, long term service contracts and residential service and repair typically work alone. Mechanics involved in larger commercial installation projects may work with a team or with sub-contractors at the worksite. As a member of a team, they ensure the installation takes place as required by their contract with the customer. They will also coordinate their work with other trades and safety inspectors. Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics may work with apprentices to build their skills and knowledge. Some large residential installation jobs may require that they work with a partner.

Continuous Learning

Continuous learning is important for refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics due to changes in technology and an increased emphasis on the environment and energy savings. In order to work on new generations of equipment, mechanics need to keep informed about new types of equipment, the use of different energy sources, new materials, automated computer controls, the use of diagnostic sensors and built in microprocessors. The more knowledgeable the mechanic is, the more options and services they can offer customers. They must also keep up-to-date on changes made to the codes and regulations that govern their work. This may entail keeping government-required certifications relating to dangerous goods, Work Place Hazardous Materials System (WHMIS) and chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) handling requirements. They may visit manufacturers' websites and conduct online searches about new technological developments and new types of equipment. Trade unions and companies also provide training sessions on new technologies and changes to codes and regulations.

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