What does an HVAC Mechanic do?

D. Jeffress
D. Jeffress
Exterior wall vent leading to an HVAC system.
Exterior wall vent leading to an HVAC system.

Mechanics who work in the complex heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry play a vital role in keeping the rest of us comfortable in our homes and businesses. An HVAC mechanic can be responsible for the installation and maintenance of a wide range of commercial and residential heating and cooling equipment. An HVAC mechanic must have a strong knowledge of electrical properties, physical science, and the mechanical processes that allow HVAC systems work.

An HVAC mechanic repairs air conditioning units.
An HVAC mechanic repairs air conditioning units.

HVAC mechanics work on heat pumps, furnaces, air conditioners, refrigeration units and a number of other ventilation and heating and cooling systems. They must be knowledgeable about both gas-powered and electric devices, as well as systems which run on alternative energy sources. Because there are so many different types of systems, HVAC mechanics often specialize. Some mechanics focus on either heating or refrigeration work, while others specialize in working with either large industrial machines or smaller residential systems.

Some HVAC mechanics specialize in industrial air condition maintenance..
Some HVAC mechanics specialize in industrial air condition maintenance..

HVAC mechanics install and troubleshoot motors, fuel lines, air vents, fans, and pumps. They must be comfortable connecting electrical wires, using precision hand and power tools, and reading various gauges. An HVAC mechanic combines his or her practical knowledge with the information found in blueprints and instruction manuals to work on HVAC systems. Therefore, an HVAC mechanic must have strong reading comprehension skills and the ability to understand very detailed diagrams.

As a skilled trade, working experience repairing and installing refrigeration equipment is more valuable than academic credentials.
As a skilled trade, working experience repairing and installing refrigeration equipment is more valuable than academic credentials.

HVAC mechanics conventionally work forty hours per week, though overtime work is common. Most find employment with electrical, plumbing, or heating/air-conditioning contractors. Others may work for specialized repair shops, wholesale stores, or retail outlets. With several years of experience and a knowledge of administrative duties, an HVAC mechanic might start his or her own contracting business.

HVAC mechanics need to have strong knowledge about electrical, physical and mechanical properties that allow HVAC systems to function.
HVAC mechanics need to have strong knowledge about electrical, physical and mechanical properties that allow HVAC systems to function.

A prospective HVAC mechanic is typically required to complete an accredited technical school program and receive practical training as an apprentice. There are several hundred vocational schools, community colleges, and online courses that offer HVAC training programs. Such programs may take anywhere from six months to two years to complete. Apprenticeships, where individuals learn from and assist accomplished HVAC mechanics, usually take one or two years.

An HVAC mechanic may work on large heating pumps at commercial buildings.
An HVAC mechanic may work on large heating pumps at commercial buildings.

After education and training requirements are met, an HVAC mechanic is usually required to take a licensing exam to work in a specific state or country. Special certification is not typically required, though many employers consider HVAC certification a plus. Certification tests are administered by several different accredited agencies, including HVAC Excellence and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Safety Coalition.

Discussion Comments

ZsaZsa56
In some areas of the US there is serious demand for HVAC technicians. This is usually true in areas that have seen rapid population growth over the last few decades. Think of Arizona or Nevada. They have a lot of new people, a lot of HVAC systems that have suddenly been built, and not enough qualified mechanics to service all of them.
profess

@truman12 - That definitely sounds interesting. How long did your training program take to complete and about how much did it cost?

truman12
The position of HVAC mechanic will be a good paying, steady job even moving into the future. Every building in the county has climate control systems and all of them need to be serviced on a regular basis. There is no way to outsource this job or have a worker replaced by a robot.

I went through a training program two years ago and I found a job almost immediately. It pays well, offers benefits, and offers long term work prospects.

anon141700

I'd like to work for HVAC. I have experience in that field and I have an EPA universal certificate.

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    • Exterior wall vent leading to an HVAC system.
      By: Tony Baggett
      Exterior wall vent leading to an HVAC system.
    • An HVAC mechanic repairs air conditioning units.
      By: EuToch
      An HVAC mechanic repairs air conditioning units.
    • Some HVAC mechanics specialize in industrial air condition maintenance..
      By: AndG
      Some HVAC mechanics specialize in industrial air condition maintenance..
    • As a skilled trade, working experience repairing and installing refrigeration equipment is more valuable than academic credentials.
      By: mertcan
      As a skilled trade, working experience repairing and installing refrigeration equipment is more valuable than academic credentials.
    • HVAC mechanics need to have strong knowledge about electrical, physical and mechanical properties that allow HVAC systems to function.
      By: ArenaCreative
      HVAC mechanics need to have strong knowledge about electrical, physical and mechanical properties that allow HVAC systems to function.
    • An HVAC mechanic may work on large heating pumps at commercial buildings.
      By: Pavel Losevsky
      An HVAC mechanic may work on large heating pumps at commercial buildings.