Technical Competency


The other day I saw a sign and it really hit home with me. It said, “I CAN EXPLAIN IT TO YOU, BUT I CAN’T UNDERSTAND IT FOR YOU!”

In my job, I am on the phone a lot with technicians calling in for advice, tips, information, application issues and mostly, for help because they cannot figure out the problem with the particular piece of equipment they are attempting to work on. In most instances it is a very fulfilling job and we get the equipment diagnosed and get the tech on the right path to getting the unit up and running again.

But what do you do with the person who doesn’t want to listen to you or who has made up his mind that you don’t know what you’re talking about because  the caller says, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, why are you asking me that question?”  When I get this type of response, I have been known to respond, ” There are 2 types of technicians in this world — Those WITH 20 year experience, and those with 1 year experience 20 times over — Which one are you?  Now, if you’ll work with me, together we can solve the problem”.  I’ve also been known to ask, “If you know more about this than me, why did you call me?”  I’m not trying to put them down but it is hard to help some one who won’t allow themselves to admit that they need help. I can understand their feelings because I was out in the field like them and worked on all brands of equipment over the years. It is hard to know everything about every manufacturer’s equipment. This is why most major manufacturers offer technical support for the technicians to use.

Because I work for a manufacturer, I am fortunate and I don’t have to know the peculiarities of all the other brands out there like they do. In most cases, once the technician really feels that I really am there to help them, we both “lose the attitude” and now we can work together to solve the problem they called about in the first place.

This brings us back to the sign I mentioned at the start of this post, I CAN EXPLAIN IT TO YOU, BUT I CAN’T UNDERSTAND IT FOR YOU!”  There are some people out there who shouldn’t be in this business. They may have tools, but don’t have a clue how things actually work.  The classic is when a tech tells me the flame sensor is glowing cherry red but the burners won’t light. Then you explain that heat has nothing to do with flame rectification and try to explain how we create a pulsating DC micro-amp signal back to the control by passing the current through the flame. HUH! — Say What?  Then you ask him what is his micro-amp reading? (Here is the tech who has 1 year experience 20 times over and thinks the sensor is a thermocouple that reacts to heat)  Or, how about explaining super-heat and / or sub-cooling to someone who doesn’t have a clue?  Still charging units to “beer can cold and sweating” or “outdoor ambient plus 30 degrees should be your head pressure”.

How many pieces of equipment, just a few years ago, required a computer to set up?  How many pieces of equipment a few years ago could you hook up a computer to and change parameters  or get information out of.  How may pieces of equipment could you pull up on the internet and remotely change or diagnose?  This has even gone to the residential market with the new communicating thermostats — and whole house BAS systems where you can turn lights off and on,  unlock doors from your cell  phone and change temperature and modes of the heating and cooling equipment — all from your SMART phone?

The point I am trying to make with this post is that keeping up with technology — going back to school occasionally or, at least, attending manufacturer’s schools, is so important in this day and age.  Manufacturer’s now offer “on-line” training on the internet.  They offer mobile APPs for Smart Phones where you can have troubleshooting data readily available right in your hands at the job site.  Not only is the technology changing rapidly in our industry, but so is the way you can get help 24/7 , when people like me are home after hours, via the internet and  those mobile APPs.

I have to keep up with technological changes and I  am fortunate because I work for a manufacturer and get trained on the new technology.  I also like to pass on this information via my training classes that I do at our office.  I also started this blog for the same reason — it all comes down to TECHNICAL COMPETENCY!  Those who embrace it will always have a job.  Those that don’t will just continue to muddle through.

Here is an actual sign for a place looking for help — don’t be surprised if you see more like this:

now hiringWe all need to keep up with the newest and latest technology. The way to do that — EDUCATION.  Make use of manufacturer’s schools.  Make use of you local distributor who offers training. Make use of the union hall with the continuing education classes.  Make use of the community colleges with their continuing education classes. Make use of on-line training.  Make use of Mobile APPs.  As the sign says — MUST HAVE  CLUE! —  DO YOU!

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About yorkcentraltechtalk

I have been in the HVAC industry most of my life. I worked 25 years for contractors on anything from residential to large commercial boilers and power burners. For the past 23+ years I had been employed by York International UPG Division ( a division of Johnson Controls) as a Technical support/Service Manager but I am now retired. One of my goals has always been to "educate" dealers and contractors. The reason for starting this blog was to share some knowledge, thoughts, ideas, etc with anyone who takes the time to read it. The contents of this blog are my own opinions, thoughts, experiences and should not be construed as those of Johnson Controls York UPG in any way. I hope you find this a help. I always welcome comments and suggestions for postings and will do my best to address any thoughts, questions, or topics you may want to hear about. Thanks for taking the time to read my postings! Mike Bishop
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2 Responses to Technical Competency

  1. Igor Goshkoderya says:

    I’m having an issue with a newly installed York 20 ton rooftop unit and am wondering if you can point me in the right direction.

    Last night, I noticed that both compressors were periodically tripping on a low pressure (around 50 psig) during a call for cooling. This morning (around 8 am) I noticed that the simplicity board was showing errors for LPS1 and LPS2. I restarted the system and it seemed to run ok (About 300 psig over 110 psig with an outdoor ambient of 67 and indoor temp. of 72 (Thermostat was set to 68)). It ran like this pretty much the whole day though I did notice that the low side pressure seemed to be slowly creeping down. Around 5 pm I noticed that compressor #1 tripped on a low pressure and that compressor #2 had pressures of 260 over 70 with the low side creeping down faster than before until it tripped as well (Outdoor ambient was 64, indoor was 71).

    The Honeywell economizer was set to D (63 degrees) and did not open, the blower was was running ok.

    This unit was installed about 2 months ago.
    Any idea what the issue can be?
    Any advice or direction would be greatly appreciate. Thank you very much.

    • First of all, I wold verify that you have proper air flow. Not enough air will cause the unit to either start freezing the coil or cause low pressure trips.
      Otherwise I would suggest You contact your distributor for assistance

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