Refrigeration and Air conditioning

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics use essential skills to complete trade-related tasks. Use this fact sheet to:

  • learn how essential skills are used on the job;
  • find out the skills you need to succeed in your trade; and
  • help prepare yourself for your career.


  • Read work orders to ensure that the correct equipment is installed.
  • Read manufacturers’ bulletins to learn about new equipment, modifications and solutions for repetitive equipment problems.
  • Review equipment manuals to check for any unusual installation requirements.
  • Review equipment specifications to ensure that customers’ needs are being met and to determine the efficiency of different manufacturers’ equipment.
  • Interpret a range of codes relating to building, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration to comply with regulations.
  • Read detailed diagnostic procedures in equipment manuals to determine the root causes of unit malfunctions.

Document use

  • Find the names and addresses of customers in work orders.
  • Review equipment lists to find part numbers.
  • Recognize hazard signs for flammable and combustible materials, high voltage electricity and compressed gases posted at work sites
  • Read instructional labels on equipment or parts to ensure correct installation or operation.
  • Use tables such as refrigeration pressure and temperature charts to help make calculations which determine how much refrigerant to use.
  • Analyze temperature readings of equipment sensors to diagnose equipment problems.
  • Interpret blueprints to determine sites for equipment installation, routing for ducting and pipes, locations of control boxes, venting, mechanical room, volume or air boxes.
  • Interpret electrical schematics to install or repair equipment controls for systems involving one or more pieces of equipment.


  • Calculate the cost of parts when preparing orders for suppliers.
  • Measure lengths of ducting and piping using a tape measure to fit for installation.
  • Compare pressure readings and start up readings to determine if a refrigeration system is leaking refrigerant.
  • Estimate the length of ducting or piping required.
  • Prepare invoices for customers including taxes.
  • Calculate areas and volumes of ducting and piping assemblies to meet operating specifications.
  • Calculate averages across readings on the energy consumption to compare different systems.
  • Estimate volume, temperature and average load size to identify the type of refrigeration system required for a mobile unit.
  • Calculate the internal area of a closed piping system to determine the volume of refrigerant required.


  • Complete work order forms to record the customer’s name, work site location and problem as stated by the customer.
  • Maintain logbooks and service notes to track information such as the number of filters changed, belt sizes and part numbers for the next technician working on that particular equipment.
  • Complete start up sheets for new installations, detailing the make and model of equipment, the operating conditions and start up settings.
  • Prepare technical service reports to record a problem.

Oral communication

  • Talk to suppliers to order parts.
  • Interact with drivers of refrigerated transportation units to obtain information that would help diagnose equipment problems.
  • Talk to manufacturers’ representatives to obtain technical information on equipment, such as specifications and installation instructions.
  • Talk to customers to discuss the operation of their heating, ventilation or air conditioning equipment and maintenance programs.
  • Speak to engineers on large commercial work sites to discuss equipment issues.
  • Communicate with other tradespeople to ensure that work can meet scheduling and code requirements and to promote a safe working environment.

Working with others

  • Typically work independently when providing service and repair for refrigerated transportation units, long term service contracts, and residential service and repair.
  • Coordinate work with other tradespeople and safety inspectors on larger jobs or commercial sites.


  • Determine which equipment or part to use for a particular job based on the specifications and codes.
  • Decide what parts need to be replaced and which require general maintenance.
  • Schedule service work to minimize disruption of service to the client.
  • Determine which diagnostic procedures to use and eliminate possible causes for the malfunction.
  • Troubleshoot equipment that has multiple problems.
  • Decide whether to refuse a job that is potentially dangerous.
  • Prioritize tasks and reschedule work as required.

Computer use

  • Use word processing to prepare technical reports.
  • Use a database to input customer contract information.
  • Use email to communicate with clients.
  • Use a computer to gather diagnostic data for troubleshooting.

Continuous learning

  • Keep up-to-date with new types of equipment and technology.
  • Keep up-to-date with codes and regulations.
  • Attend safety training.
  • Update certifications as required.
  • Learn on the job by reading manuals, bulletins, manufacturers’ literature and trade journals.
  • Learn through self-study, workshops and seminars.