A Day in the Life – What it’s Like to Work as an HVAC Technician
An HVAC technician is a skilled trade worker responsible for the installation, maintenance and repair of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and often for refrigerants as well. They may work in residential settings or in commercial buildings with larger, more complex systems. HVAC techs do physical, skilled work, and to become one you need to be prepared to take classes and do some on-the-job training. Before you take the plunge, find out exactly what it’s like to work in HVAC.
Working Hours in HVAC Vary
Most HVAC technicians, most of the time, will work pretty regular hours. They get up in the morning and head to their first appointments. Those who work for a company that only installs new systems will have more regular working hours. This is because the work is routine and can be easily scheduled.
If you work for a typical contractor with a small HVAC company that installs and repairs systems, you may have less regular hours. A breakdown in heating or air conditioning can occur at any time, so schedules vary a lot when you work on repairs and maintenance. You may even be expected to work some evening and weekend hours. HVAC workers often put in extra hours during the starts of summer and winter, peak cooling and heating seasons.
Going through Appointments and Working with Clients
As an HVAC tech, you can expect to have a day that is filled with appointments with various customers. Depending on the employer, you may need to go into an office to find your schedule for the day or you may simply have the schedule on hand already. Some appointments may be long and take all day, such as when installing new or big systems. Others are quicker maintenance appointments or repairs.
As a tech working for an HVAC contractor, part of your day will be spent talking to clients. Technicians go into clients’ homes and listen to what they need. They tell the clients what needs to be done and then continue with the work if given the go-ahead. Working and talking with clients can be a fun part of the job, making the work more social and less isolating.
HVAC Work is Done Inside and Outside
We tend to think of HVAC as all being indoors: furnaces, ducts and controllers. But, air conditioning units and heat exchangers are outside. On a typical day, an HVAC worker will spend most of his or her time indoors doing work, but sometimes it is necessary to be outside. Outdoor work may take place on an uncomfortably hot summer day or on a cold, windy or rainy winter day.
Typical Duties on Any Given Day
A work day is not often typical for an HVAC technician. Every job will be at least a little bit different, so expect to face new challenges and the need to problem-solve every single day. Here are some of the HVAC duties you may be responsible for day-to-day on the job:
- Installing new systems or new parts and components
- Putting in electrical components and installing or fixing electrical wiring
- Inspecting systems and components and performing maintenance work
- Troubleshooting to find the source of a problem
- Explaining the source of the issue to clients and giving them options
- Making fixes and repairs
- Doing paperwork and recording work done each day
Supervisors and contractors have additional daily duties, including scheduling appointments, assigning workers to jobs, following up on appointments and making sure clients are satisfied, and supervising and checking the work of journeymen and apprentice HVAC technicians.
Facing Risks Every Day on the Job
HVAC work can be dangerous and risky, and workers have to take steps and make decisions every day on the job to minimize those risks. HVAC jobs are often done in tight spaces and require standing or fitting into uncomfortable positions for long periods of time. This can lead to pain and injuries over time, but there are also more immediate risks. HVAC techs face potential accidents like electric shocks, falls, being hit by equipment or tools, burns, and harm from refrigerants, which are hazardous chemicals.
While an HVAC day can be risky, following safety guidelines and using the right gear can minimize dangers. Overall, a typical day on the job is moderately physically demanding, challenging, interesting and rewarding. You can expect to earn a good living in an HVAC career because of the skilled nature of the work, and as technology for HVAC improves and new construction continues, you will also find it easy to find your first job.