Famous Last Words (Before a Callback)


You've probably heard the famous last words, “Dude, watch this,” before a concussion, burn, shock, broken bones, or some other bodily harm. This phrase has become synonymous with young guys doing something dumb to impress their friends.

Technicians have two common phrases that may not lead to bodily harm (although sometimes they might), and they are:

“That's good enough.”


“That's normal.” 

Pulling a vacuum for 30 minutes without a micron gauge, and then, “That's good enough.”

Doing a standing pressure test, and the pressure keeps dropping JUST A LITTLE, and, “That's normal.”

Running a 0 superheat, and, “I see that all the time,” followed by some made-up reason about this particular equipment or load conditions.

I have heard lots of made-up explanations over the years—some of them out of my own mouth and almost all of them being used to justify something being good enough or normal.


Don't misunderstand that normal and good enough are both real concepts. However, they need to be backed by a deep understanding of the equipment you are working on (have you read the entire installation instructions or service manual?) and the readings you are taking (do you understand what they mean, why you are taking them and how your test instruments/tools work?).

If you can't follow it up with “It's normal because…” or “That's good enough because…” with a real answer, not a made-up reason, then you need to keep working.

This is a journey for all of us, but stop for one second and be honest with yourself. When you get frustrated, short on time, or feel in over your head, do you ever use these phrases? If so, congratulations. You are in an elite group of techs willing to admit what you don't know.

Now, repeat after me…

“I will no longer make excuses for what I don't understand. I will stop and work to understand what is actually going on until I have it mastered,”



P.S. – Sorry for the repeat after me thing. It's a bit too much, but this whole article is nerdy as heck, so I figured I would just take it all the way.

4 responses to “Famous Last Words (Before a Callback)”

  1. The most common problem with call backs is the tech just didn’t stick around to verify everything worked and readings are within design. Did the ice machine harvest 3 times? Did the freezer reach -5 with a 4 degree SH? Did the AC run in cool/heat and cycle off? Is the compressor drawing RLA and are the pressures correct? All you had to do was sit on your ass and observe. Maybe look at your gauges or meter once in awhile. I think many of these techs know something is off but just don’t want to deal with it.

    • Hi Chris.

      I’m one of this techs I want to check all this out after work done. Can we agree that in most cases is because the bosses rushing the tecs on the field to the next call?

  2. I am a self employed HVAC tech. with 20 years experience.
    This is a touchy subject for me. I have hired guys to apprentice under. I keep running into this scenario over and over again. They dont want to take the time to do things right, to be professional, to impress the customer. They just want to be fast. I’ve heard all the phrases “it’s close enough”, “they won’t care of we don’t do ______.” “It seems fine to me” and the phrase I absolutely hate, “It’s close enough” sometime also phrased as “I can’t see it from my house”
    Very frustrating.

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