A Technician’s Standard Procedure

General Troubleshooting Procedure

Essentially, a technician is a well trained person called upon to engage his/her knowledge of the product, certain principles of engineering and design, experience, and just plain old practical application. A technician worth his salt will be able to successfully combine abstract principles with hard application at the job site.

The typical procedure a technician goes through to resolve any issue related to your HVAC system can also be used by a homeowner to do a preliminary assessment of the presenting problem. It is recommended however, that you leave the final decision making to a licensed and insured person who has the knowledge and skill to suggest and implement the necessary actions to return your system to peak performance.

Standard Procedures

A standard procedure is used in many different professional areas. Doctors and nurses, engineers, psychologists, lab technicians, and many others are taught standard procedures for diagnonsis and assessment. Many professionals use items called “decision trees” or systematic charts that allow for decision making at integral sections in order to determine the area that is deficient or in need of repair.

The beginning problem solving paradigm goes like this.

  1. The technician obtains a verbal or written report from the HVAC system owner to understand the presenting issue.

  2. The technician will then, based on the owner’s reporting of symptoms attempt to arrive at a preliminary, and possible cause of the issue.

  3. The technician will arrive at and implement a specific remedy for the presenting issue.

This logical sequence of decision making becomes second nature to the skilfull technician who will often know immediately the solution to be implemented. This standard procedure can save time and also save money for the home or business owner while reducing the amount of frustration inherent in the repair of a unit.

HVAC technicians also have access to troubleshooting charts that are provided by the manufacturer of your system. This information is valuable and details information needed to maintain and repair a system that is down or performing poorly. A manufacturer’s manual and problem solving chart will usually have three columns.

  1. Problem, trouble, complaint, issue, etc.

  2. Possible cause, probable cause, check this…, etc.

  3. Solution, repair sequence, do this after checking this, etc.

Procedure Upon Arrival

When arriving at your door and upon being allowed entrance to your home, the technician will begin becoming familiar with your system. They will discover the name of the manufacturer, it’s production dates, and will begin a visual inspection of the various components. Wiring, electronics, and features will be checked to determine if the thermostat and all electrics are functioning normally. The technician will make a determination as to whether or not the HVAC system is responding appropriately to the demands called upon it by the thermostat.

In all cases, the technician will be following a logical and sequential problem solving procedure to determine the cause of the problem.

Warning: *At this point, it is tempting to arrive at a simple and quick solution to the problem and simply implement that. However, a good technician will not only be thinking about what the immediate solution is, but also what will prevent this set of symptoms from reoccuring in the future*

Listening to the Owner

Well trained technicians will listen carefully to the owner’s words when asking about the problem. Many times, not all the time, the owner will not know how the system works or will not have the language to communicate the problem. Technicians must become proficient at translating given words into actionable procedures.

Technicians will attempt to gain as much information as possible from the owner and may ask a series of questions to a make sure that what is being said is what is being heard. Essentially, the technician will want to know how the sytem was working before this instance and how it is working now.

Checking for Possible Causes

The next important step in the technician’s standard procedure will be to check for the cause of the presenting symptoms. This is where experience meets manufacturer’s specifications. The technician will have to consult with manuals for each manufacturer they encounter in order to completely resolve the issue.

For instance, let’s say the owner explains they think their compressor is not starting and it just hums. Possible causes for this could be;

  1. The compressor is receiving low voltage.

  2. The compressor was not wired correctly.

  3. The start capacitor is faulty.

  4. The relay may be failing to close.

  5. The compressor has open windings or it has shorted.

  6. The internal mechanics of the compressor may be faulty or come to the end of their warrantied life.

As you can see, their may be many possible causes for one set of presenting symptoms. It is up to the technician to determine, with more precise assessment exactly what is causing the malfunction or substandard performance of the HVAC unit.

Repair and Remedy

The third step in this logical process involves the application of the solution to the problem at hand. The technician may have to go through many different steps for the solution to be applied accurately. It may be simple or it may be complicated. Actual solution procedures will vary based on the presenting issue, the type of unit being worked on, and the availability of parts.

It is also important to mention that solutions applied will be either electrical or mechanical in nature or may include both.

The Troubleshooting Circle

An integral ingredient to the standard troubleshooting procedure is to realize and understand that the process is a circular one and not linear. That is to say, an HVAC system is a closed system wherein many different mechanicals, electricals, dynamics of engineering, and natural elements must come together to condition the air.

A technician and an owner must understand that solutions are reached based on empirical information that may or may not be true or complete. Therefore a solution that works today may not work tomorrow.

This is as it should be. Manufacturer’s specifications, technology, and standard operating procedures are constantly adjusting to new ideas, new creations, and new ways of doing things.

However, the technician coming to your home or businesss will be able to implement a logical and sequential process that will solve your HVAC problem and put it in good standing for high performance in the future.