Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Mechanic
  Houses & Buildings

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Practical or MechanicalAnalytic or ScientificSkill Level 2

Air conditioning & heating mechanics assemble, install, test, service and repair industrial, commercial and domestic heating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems in homes, shops, factories, office buildings, hospitals, and supermarkets.

Air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics install, maintain and repair heating, cooling and refrigeration systems and equipment. They may install ducted air-conditioning in a family home, orFuture Growth Strong build large walk-in refrigeration units for businesses needing mass food storage. They bolt and build units into buildings with brackets, piping, gas and water lines, cabling and wires. Following pre-set specifications, they use motors, pumps, filters, switches and gauges to put together the heating or cooling system that is required for the job.

In Australia, air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics are mainly employed by installation service maintenance and manufacturing firms that service shops, hotels and factories. Others can find work with firms that specialise in cold storage, food treatment plants and refrigeration on ships.


Alternative names: Air conditioning and heating mechanic

Air Conditioning Unit

Knowledge, skills and attributes

An airconditioning and refrigeration mechanic needs:

  • to enjoy practical work

  • technical aptitude

  • good hand eye co-ordination

  • good fitness, with an ability to lift heavy pieces of equipment

  • the ability to follow instructions

  • to be precise in their work.

Duties and Tasksin roof

This occupation may include associated occupations with varying tasks.

  • establishing job requirements from drawings and specifications, and laying out installation reference points

  • drilling holes, installing mounting brackets and cutting, bending and threading piping

  • installing and repairing components such as compressors, motors, condensers, evaporators, switches and gauges, and copper lines for steam, gas, refrigerant, compressed air, oil and chilled water

  • bolting, soldering, riveting, welding and brazing pipes to connect equipment, and checking alignment and accuracy of fit

  • filling systems with gas or fluid to check for leaks

  • test-operating refrigeration systems, checking mechanisms and making adjustments

  • removing test gas and fluid using vacuum pumps, and filling with refrigerant

  • checking and overhauling refrigeration systems, diagnosing faults and repairing and replacing defective components

  • adjusting system controls and mechanisms and reassembling systems

  • recording causes of malfunctioning and action taken

Working conditions

Air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics work wherever they are required to install heating and cooling systems. These locations can be indoors or outdoors, at factories, industrial plants, restaurants, licensed premises, offices, private dwellings or construction sites. Their work environments can often be cramped, noisy, dirty or humid. Sometimes, they may have to work at heights. They usually work normal business hours, but may be required to be on call, day or night, to conduct emergency repairs.

Tools and technologies

Air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics use drills, spanners, screwdrivers, hammers, welding equipment, pumps and grinders to install and repair heating and cooling units. Since their working environment can sometimes be hazardous, they are often required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), which may include bright and reflective safety gear, hard hats, earmuffs, goggles, masks and enclosed steel-capped boots.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic, you usually need to complete an apprenticeship. The air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic – engineering trade apprenticeship usually takes 48 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.

To work as an air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic in Australia, you must obtain a restricted electrical licence. Contact the EnergySafety Division of the Department of Commerce (in each State) for more information.

To work with refrigerant chemicals in Australia, you must apply for a refrigerant handling licence from the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC).


Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Did You Know?

The average 6 room house collects 18.1437Kilograms [40 pounds] of dust a year.

Air ducts have more germs than a chicken coop.

EPA claims indoor air has been found to be up to 70% more polluted than outdoor air.

A build up of 10.668mm [0.42 inches] of dirt on a heating or cooling coil can result in a decrease in efficiency of 21%.
(Source: Elite)

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