Job Profile: The HVAC Mechanic

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The primary responsibility of a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) mechanic is to control the temperature, humidity and general air quality of a building via heating and air-conditioning systems. HVAC mechanics work primarily on commercial, residential, and industrial buildings. An HVAC mechanic's duties include the installation, maintenance, and repair of heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems.

Exploring the Duties of the HVAC Mechanic

Most HVAC mechanics specialize in just maintenance, repair, or installation, though many complete additional training to be proficient in all three. Alternatively, an HVAC mechanic may instead specialize in a specific piece of equipment, such as commercial refrigeration, solar panels, or hydronics. HVAC mechanics must be able to follow complex blueprints and other specifications, in order to understand the electrical, fuel, oil, and gas systems they install and maintain. Working with these systems also requires HVAC mechanics to be proficient with many types of tools and equipment.

An HVAC mechanic must perform routine maintenance and repair work in order to ensure that a system continue to operate efficiently. This may include adjusting and replacing blower motors, switches, coils, buzzer controls, and thermostats, as well as checking for leaks. An HVAC mechanic must also take great care to conserve, recover and recycle refrigerant used in air conditioning systems, since improper disposal can be harmful to the environment.

Heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration systems are comprised of various mechanical, electrical, and electronic applications, including motors, compressors, pumps, fans, ducts, pipes, thermostats, and switches. A technician must be able to diagnose problems throughout the entire HVAC system by monitoring and testing its performance, and correcting problems by adjusting controls and settings.

Becoming a HVAC Mechanic

Due to the inherent sophistication of HVAC systems, an HVAC mechanic is often trained in technical schools or formal apprenticeships. This specialized training is often provided by technical or trade schools. HVAC students spend approximately 6 months to two years becoming proficient in the field. An HVAC mechanic is often required to be licensed by the state. Licensing consists of passing a written exam at minimum. This is specifically true for HVAC mechanics working with refrigerants, where a license must be obtained by passing an examination approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

HVAC mechanics work in a variety of environments, depending on the specific application of their work. These environments can include homes, hospitals, commercial properties, and factories. Ultimately, HVAC mechanics are needed wherever climate-controlled equipment and workspaces need to be installed, repaired, or serviced. HVAC mechanics must occasionally work outside in all weather conditions, or within buildings with uncomfortable conditions, since climate-controlling equipment is likely not present or malfunctioning. In addition, HVAC mechanics sometimes must work in tight spaces or awkward positions. HVAC mechanics typically work 40-hour weeks, with the exception being during high-demand times such as the cold of winter and the heat of the summer.
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