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Troubleshooting Advanced Systems
This article was written by Senior Refrigeration Tech Jeremy Smith. Before we get to it, I want to remind you that ALL of the tech tips are available in chronological order HERE, and you can sort through them alphabetically by selecting the letters and numbers above the tips. It's a great link to share with other techs, HVAC business owners, trade school students, etc. You can feel free to share these anywhere.
All right, maybe “advanced” isn't the right thing to call this little tidbit. Maybe it should be “troubleshooting and information sharing in the digital age.”
Microprocessor controls, PCBs, PLCs… call them what you will. Regardless of the name you choose for them, electronic circuit boards have become an integral part of the HVAC/R world. From a small heat pump defrost board to an advanced building automation system, these little pieces of equipment seem to be the bane of a tech's existence.
One very important thing to remember when working on a system with one of these items installed is that each one has a specific troubleshooting procedure and its own sequence of operations.
So, how is a tech supposed to remember all of this stuff?
The chances are good that you're reading this on a smartphone or a tablet. With that and a couple of free apps, you can build a library of tech manuals, reference documents, and other information to allow you to be better at diagnosing problems on specific equipment.
So, how do we build this? Well, you can go old-school and print out all of the manuals and store them in your service truck, or we can keep up with the times and go HVAC/R School and put it in “The Cloud.”
Everybody has a Gmail account. Maybe it's your primary email, or maybe it's the one you give people that you don't really like so you never hear from them again. Well, with every Gmail account comes 15GB of free online storage through an app called Google Drive. Grab the Google Drive app from the app store or play store. If your Gmail is logged in to that phone, the Drive app is already logged in to access your cloud storage. Now, start to “build” your reference library by uploading those PDF files to the drive.
Sometimes, this is easier to do on a PC, but you can do it from a phone or tablet as well. It's just a bit more tedious, at least for me. Then, the next time you’re at a job and have to find a manual for a piece of equipment you're working on, save it to your Google Drive, too. Before long, you'll have a very nice library to draw from.
If you're feeling particularly generous, you can share that information with co-workers and other techs within Google Drive. You can either allow them to contribute to the library or just view it.
Do you know what's better than having a good memory? Having good resources. Oh, and reading. You pretty much can't be a good tech nowadays if you never read.