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FlyingHigh
03-06-2020, 10:47 PM
I'm still stuck in my welding gig but I'm desperately in need of a change. I'm pretty well checked out of the oil and gas industry. I'm sick and tired of going home so dirty the shower water runs black. I'm tired of destroying my health. I'm done with having no work/life balance. I have a few things to wrap up, but I'm seriously considering a career change in summer or fall.

One of the things I'm looking into is the refrigeration trade. It seems relatively stable as people will always need heat, air conditioning and refrigeration. The pay is pretty good from what one company owner I met told me. In fact, from what he told me the pay is better than welding with less bullcrap. It seems clean, but then anything is clean compared to welding and the hours appear to be more civilized.

I don't mind a pay cut to start a new trade, since within a couple years I'll be back to where I'm at now. One of my concerns is that the electrical stuff was my weak point in welding school. I'm not sure if that was because there was surprisingly little time spent on it or that I just have difficulty understanding something I can't see. Pretty sure the refrigeration trade will involve electrical diagnostic stuff often. The mechanical side I'll have no issue getting a handle on.

Anyone with direct experience in this trade care to enlighten me on what it's like?

MKivSupra
03-06-2020, 11:09 PM
Electrician here, but the electrical in hvac/refrig is extremely basic, but still a lot more than you'd come across welding. Some basic troubleshooting but on the job experience should take care of that. As for the rest of the job, I have no idea whats involved but a large portion of the job is troubleshooting electrical to see whats wrong.

Commercial Tin Bashers working on new buildings make really good money and its more labour than troubleshooting. Putting up ducting systems and hoisting rooftop units into place.

With all the dust and oils on metal, attic and crawlspace work, outside in the winter, tar roofs in the summer, you'll find that this work isnt much cleaner than welding.

lone-wolf
03-07-2020, 06:11 AM
On our jobs, we(electricians) do all the electrical hardwiring with regards to refrigeration units(new industrial installs), the hvac guys do some plumbing - running copper lines and fire the unit up. Seems like a nice job.
Maybe the remote units are wired by the hvac guys, but it's 3 wires, and once you do one they're probably all the same.

kennymo
03-07-2020, 07:33 AM
Not a bad gig. Work varies depending on whether you’re doing residential, commercial or industrial jobs.

Residential is dead simple, you can get your basic natural gas ticket here as part of your training so you can work on furnaces and such as well. You’ll probably do the final electrical at the unit and all the control/stat wiring in that scenario.

Commercial you’re looking at a lot of split coil units in IT rooms, rooftop air handlers, etc... Not bad work, but you’re not going to stay clean all the time. We’re seeing a lot of the new VRF (variable refrigeration flow) systems being installed, and the way the industry reps are talking they will be pushing this as the future of heating and cooling, so potentially mucho employment. I’ve taken the installer training for the York and Samsung systems so far, and we’ve done Daikin as well. They’re all using a similar 4 wire control setup, but on all but the smallest commercial jobs that part is done by a building controls contractor. There is a bit of heavy lifting manhandling units into place, you won’t always stay clean, but once you get to piping it’s usually pretty lightweight.

Industrial refrigeration, well I hope you like ammonia. Lots of big, heavy things and you’ll find yourself working hand in hand with your current trade. Some potentially dangerous environments, I’ve seen jobs where the reefer techs had to carry around gas masks. Food plant work is disgusting, I spent a lot of time in various hog processing plants and some chicken and beef places.

Biggest drawback to any of these is you’ll probably wind up on call at some point. And HVAC equipment likes to go down in the middle of the darkest, coldest night it can find. The sweetest position you could probably go for is as a tech for a distributor or manufacturer. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll avoid the on call stuff, but it’s mostly troubleshooting and performing factory startups on new equipment. The drawback is you’ll need a fair bit of service experience before you’ll be eligible for that position, and you’ll probably be waiting for someone to retire for a shot at a spot. The other potential relatively cushy position is as maintenance at a hospital or school division or similar. Sometimes shift work (especially at the hospital), but there’s a lot of walking around just making sure everything is doing what it’s supposed to. Any major repairs are done by outside contractors under your supervision. Those jobs don’t seem to pay quite as well as construction jobs though, at least around here.

I feel your pain. I’m starting to look for alternatives to my gig. Getting close to 20 years as a commercial/industrial plumber and pipe fitter. I’m in the office 75% of the time now to save the wear and tear on my body, but the stress and sitting from that may not be much better.

ESnel
03-07-2020, 08:50 AM
I'm an electrician(industrial/commercial), Kenny pretty much has a good summary. I would look at commercial work(office buildings,hospitals,schools etc) buildings are becoming 'smart' which climate control is a huge part.

It also puts you in a good place to get a background that allows a transition to manufacture/service tech or on staff position in hospital,university or commercial building.

FlyingHigh
03-07-2020, 09:33 AM
Good info, thanks guys. The owner of the company I talked to said they mainly install residential AC units and service furnaces. There aren't any food processors here that I know of.

I don't mind dirt and heavy work, but when it becomes a constant daily thing I get tired of it. HVAC seems to be better than welding but I'm really not sure what I want to do. I just know I'm done with being stressed out, pissed off, tired and sore every day while not being able to plan things and have a normal life. It's a struggle to get out of bed most days.

lone-wolf
03-07-2020, 10:42 AM
Join the electrician cult with the rest of us. We meet on fridays to make fun of plumbers.

FlyingHigh
03-07-2020, 11:27 AM
Join the electrician cult with the rest of us. We meet on fridays to make fun of plumbers.

I've really thought about it. My issue getting a handle on electricity makes me wary of jumping into the trade. My brother is a plumber and he does well, mostly enjoying his work. He doed end up having to jump around to various companies. I hate that. I've been with the same company for 6 years. I've rarely spent under 2 years at any one place. I'm prefer stability over an extra buck or two per hour.

Dewey Cox
03-07-2020, 11:36 AM
Join the electrician cult with the rest of us. We meet on fridays to make fun of plumbers.

And braid each other's hair...

lone-wolf
03-07-2020, 11:46 AM
If I really wanted to, I could find pretty steady work around here and I'm not even red seal yet. I figured it'd be better out there.

I'm going to be taking over my father's fishing fleet, if I wasn't a job for Vestas(windmills) I'd be ALL over.
That's working where ever they want to send you. Lots of travel. Great pay. Cool work environment. As a single man, I'd be all over it, but I'm guessing that wouldn't be what you want. Although my friend who is married with kids does it. I think they do the rotation shifts, like 3 weeks on, 2 weeks off, something like that.
Can't be scared of heights, the windmills they operate around here are 81m up.

FlyingHigh
03-07-2020, 12:01 PM
If I really wanted to, I could find pretty steady work around here and I'm not even red seal yet. I figured it'd be better out there.

I'm going to be taking over my father's fishing fleet, if I wasn't a job for Vestas(windmills) I'd be ALL over.
That's working where ever they want to send you. Lots of travel. Great pay. Cool work environment. As a single man, I'd be all over it, but I'm guessing that wouldn't be what you want. Although my friend who is married with kids does it. I think they do the rotation shifts, like 3 weeks on, 2 weeks off, something like that.
Can't be scared of heights, the windmills they operate around here are 81m up.

Nah, I've done enough time in camps and being away from home. I hate it with a vengeance. I'm trying to settle down, have a routine and build a life with my woman. In town work is where I want to be.

ESnel
03-07-2020, 12:34 PM
I've really thought about it. My issue getting a handle on electricity makes me wary of jumping into the trade. My brother is a plumber and he does well, mostly enjoying his work. He doed end up having to jump around to various companies. I hate that. I've been with the same company for 6 years. I've rarely spent under 2 years at any one place. I'm prefer stability over an extra buck or two per hour.

I suspect once electricity is taught to you in a structured setting you'll be fine. Being comfortable with math(in particular algebra,fractions,basic trig) and you'll be fine with calculations.

Always assume things are live till you test( trust is nice but verify). Especially in the beginning a lot of stuff you'll be tasked isn't going to require an in depth level of electrical knowledge or electrical theory. You're already ahead of the curve in knowing how to use tools,don't laugh, I hear stories of apprentices showing up and need to be shown what the numbers on a drill clutch do and you can read prints and do layouts.

Electrical work is varied,with in my company there are several divisions with specific focuses. The plus on this people request and get moved around if they want change. I don't know of the companies or type of work in your area so your mileage may differ.

ESnel
03-07-2020, 12:36 PM
And braid each other's hair...

Hey that's hurtful to those electrician who no longer have hair to braid...

lone-wolf
03-07-2020, 12:52 PM
You're already ahead of the curve in knowing how to use tools,don't laugh, I hear stories of apprentices showing up and need to be shown what the numbers on a drill clutch do and you can read prints and do layouts.

Electrical work is varied,with in my company there are several divisions with specific focuses. The plus on this people request and get moved around if they want change. I don't know of the companies or type of work in your area so your mileage may differ.

One of the guys before me didn't know what a circular saw was and called it a spinny cutty thing
"You know how to use a drill" was one of the initial pieces of praise I received lol

The variety of work, even within the same company is one reason I really like the job.

ESnel
03-07-2020, 01:39 PM
One of the guys before me didn't know what a circular saw was and called it a spinny cutty thing
"You know how to use a drill" was one of the initial pieces of praise I received lol

The variety of work, even within the same company is one reason I really like the job.

Not sure in your neck of the woods but here the pre-app training does a bit with hand tools and that's it for hands on tool experience. With schools getting rid of shop programs or neutering them were to kids living in apartments or in a house were broken things are replaced get to see/use tools?

For some of these apprentices it's the first time they've bought tools beyond a hammer and slot screwdriver and when I say apprentices I'm also referring to adults embarking on second career( not you Flyinghigh ;) )

FlyingHigh
03-07-2020, 01:47 PM
One of the guys before me didn't know what a circular saw was and called it a spinny cutty thing
"You know how to use a drill" was one of the initial pieces of praise I received lol

The variety of work, even within the same company is one reason I really like the job.

Spinny cutty thing. That's great. :D :Bang head:


Not sure in your neck of the woods but here the pre-app training does a bit with hand tools and that's it for hands on tool experience. With schools getting rid of shop programs or neutering them were to kids living in apartments or in a house were broken things are replaced get to see/use tools?

For some of these apprentices it's the first time they've bought tools beyond a hammer and slot screwdriver and when I say apprentices I'm also referring to adults embarking on second career( not you Flyinghigh ;) )

I've seen it as well. Those apprentices don't often last long. Heck, I see it with B Pressure welders. Most B Pressure guys got through the apprenticeship and then started rolling pipe and vessels. They either never learned or forgot how to fabricate. Running drill presses, shears, band saws etc is stuff they rarely do well. Layout, design, angles, fit up and problem solving are dead skills among most B pressure guys. One of the reasons I've never gone for my B pressure ticket is because I wanted to keep and develop a diverse skill set rather than spend my work day welding in a circle.

kennymo
03-07-2020, 01:52 PM
Hey that's hurtful to those electrician who no longer have hair to braid...

No one said it was hair on top of the head....

lone-wolf
03-07-2020, 02:02 PM
Yep, I took a trade college course that gave me my first block by the end of it. I was mid-20s so I was one of the older guys, the ones just out of high school were a bit unsure with some tools but they also had us for the most part using hand tools rather then power tools. Probably just so the teachers could have a laugh.
We did wire up a cottage as a class.

In high school, there was nothing.

blacksmithden
03-07-2020, 05:58 PM
Join the electrician cult with the rest of us. We meet on fridays to make fun of plumbers.


And braid each other's hair...

Never met an electrician who thought he couldn't do anything. Also never met one who could do anything.

Signed: The millwrights. ;)

t_glover
03-07-2020, 06:49 PM
I was on a plane with assigned seating. Next to me was a gorgeous young woman.
She told me she was flying to Calgary for her apprentice schooling.
I asked her what trade she was in. She told me she was an undertaker apprentice.
She said it paid very well. Kinda creeped me out.

SIR VEYOR
03-08-2020, 05:50 AM
I was on a plane with assigned seating. Next to me was a gorgeous young woman.
She told me she was flying to Calgary for her apprentice schooling.
I asked her what trade she was in. She told me she was an undertaker apprentice.
She said it paid very well. Kinda creeped me out.

Steady business. But undertaker seems popular with da ladies, even the non Goth ones...

And if you know how to process game, you can bring your work tools home now...

RangeBob
03-08-2020, 07:02 AM
You're already ahead of the curve in knowing how to use tools,don't laugh, I hear stories of apprentices showing up and need to be shown what the numbers on a drill clutch do and you can read prints and do layouts.

A friend of mine grew up without access to tools. He's seen me use tools, and has bought a few (screwdrivers, drills, sockets, etc), and I've helped him with a couple of projects, but I'm unconvinced he's able to do much of anything. He lives an hour and a half away so I don't get out to his home very often.
About a month back he said his furnace was dripping. I told him there were three possibilities {a leaky pipe from something else, something very weird with his air conditioner, or most likely a furnace humidifier}. He swore he'd looked around and couldn't find the leak, and I kept sending him back to look (and sending him photos of humidifiers) and he kept saying there was no furnace humidifier. I drove out to his place Saturday on another errand, and had a look at his furnace while I was there. The "drip" turned out to be a flow rate of 2 cups of water a minute. The floor in the equipment room was half an inch deep in water, and probably went under the dricore flooring in the finished portion of the basement. There is a nearby floor drain, and it is working fine, but it's not the lowest point on the concrete floor. 2 cups of water a minute, over a month, is 5000 gallons a month. Without the floor drain it would have been worse. He has at least six flashlights, but didn't use any of them. It was dark back there. The second I saw his furnace I squeezed around back, pulled a pocket flashlight out of my pocket, and said "there's your humidifier. It's leaking. It's leaking a lot. That's not a drip. That's a flow." He doubled down and said that the only pipe back there went to the fridge. I said "not that 1/4" clear plastic pipe that goes through the wall. This 1/4" clear plastic pipe that goes into the furnace." The one that went from the humidifier up the furnace went to an overhead 1/2" copper pipe with a convenient shutoff valve to the 1/4" plastic pipe that only went to the humidifier. The humidifier drain tube was not plugged, but neither was it near the leak. I closed the valve and within a minute there were no more drips. Took me all of a minute and a half from the time I entered the utility room until the valve was closed, and most of that was explaining my observations and finding a step stool to reach the ceiling shutoff, and a couple seconds to commit to walking in a half inch of water in my shoes. I showed him the humidifier controls, and recommended he get a furnace guy to install a new one. In the meantime to get a hydrometer to measure the home's relative humidity -- don't want to be too dry during coronavirus season. I suspect the furnace humidifier hasn't been set correctly since they moved in a little over a decade ago, because they have several floor humidifiers.

kennymo
03-08-2020, 07:13 AM
Wait until you meet the lady who’s stuffed a bunch of rags down the sidewall exhaust vent for her high efficient gas furnace because she ‘doesn’t want to lose all her steam’....

Spectre
03-08-2020, 03:01 PM
Been doing the HVAC/R thing for more than 15 years now. Got in late, mostly light commercial stuff with smaller ref. Not too bad of a gig, if you can stay busy. A lot of the shops are "feast or famine" kind of hours. On call blows; especially if your company does residential buildings and or restaurant work. Speaking of restaurant work, seeing most kitchens gives you a new appreciation on what a human can ingest and NOT get sick...
Electrical and controls are a big part, and getting bigger. It's not too heavy of stuff though, I think most of my second year electrical/controls schooling was a rehash of a lot of grade 10 electronics with transformer theory etc. Most of the guys I've worked with over the years, have all struggled with electrical. "Fake it 'till you make" kind of stuff. After awhile it really just clicks into place.
Being on the rooftops on the beautiful days, makes up for the -40 and +40 days/nights. Be prepared to be the busiest when the weather IS the worst. It is mostly solo work, but with today's phones (pictures/text/email) and video, assistance is only a call away. Getting in with a good shop, and good guys makes all the difference, especially coming up through you apprenticeship. Most will ram the first years out at Jman rates, and give you the "opportunity" to sink or swim...
The trade is pretty small, around the Calgary area anyway. The uniforms change but the guys remain the same. You have heard the the statement: "You never see an old refrig mech"? That seems to be slowly changing as well. ;D

FlyingHigh
03-08-2020, 03:08 PM
Been doing the HVAC/R thing for more than 15 years now. Got in late, mostly light commercial stuff with smaller ref. Not too bad of a gig, if you can stay busy. A lot of the shops are "feast or famine" kind of hours. On call blows; especially if your company does residential buildings and or restaurant work. Speaking of restaurant work, seeing most kitchens gives you a new appreciation on what a human can ingest and NOT get sick...
Electrical and controls are a big part, and getting bigger. It's not too heavy of stuff though, I think most of my second year electrical/controls schooling was a rehash of a lot of grade 10 electronics with transformer theory etc. Most of the guys I've worked with over the years, have all struggled with electrical. "Fake it 'till you make" kind of stuff. After awhile it really just clicks into place.
Being on the rooftops on the beautiful days, makes up for the -40 and +40 days/nights. Be prepared to be the busiest when the weather IS the worst. It is mostly solo work, but with today's phones (pictures/text/email) and video, assistance is only a call away. Getting in with a good shop, and good guys makes all the difference, especially coming up through you apprenticeship. Most will ram the first years out at Jman rates, and give you the "opportunity" to sink or swim...
The trade is pretty small, around the Calgary area anyway. The uniforms change but the guys remain the same. You have heard the the statement: "You never see an old refrig mech"? That seems to be slowly changing as well. ;D

Sounds pretty similar to what I'm hearing from everyone. Some downside, some upside. Every trade has shitty days and dirty work. Problems arise when every day is like that though. I honestly don't remember the last time I had a "good" day at work.

I totally get the small trade idea. Welding is pretty similar, especially in an area the size of GP. I can drop a couple names and 9 times out of 10, whoever I'm talking to knows personally or has worked with them. Having a rep as a lazy worker or a hack will make it tough to get work, especially during slow times.

shootemup604
03-09-2020, 03:39 PM
Family is in the HVAC business. Excellent money for guys with the gas "A" ticket, and good trained service techs.

Swingerguy
03-09-2020, 03:48 PM
I was on a plane with assigned seating. Next to me was a gorgeous young woman.
She told me she was flying to Calgary for her apprentice schooling.
I asked her what trade she was in. She told me she was an undertaker apprentice.
She said it paid very well. Kinda creeped me out.

I had a friend 25ish years ago that wanted to become an undertaker, I asked her why and she had several reasons, but what stuck out was, not having to deal with clients becoming ignorant, and no lack of work.
Incedently, she was also very attractive.

t_glover
03-09-2020, 04:20 PM
The one I met was very attractive too. She was flying to Vancouver to pick up a car she just bought.
She wanted to know all about me and my marital status. I think she was hoping to save the price of a hotel room.

lone-wolf
03-09-2020, 04:43 PM
attractive undertakers, I'm interested

Swingerguy
03-10-2020, 12:51 AM
attractive undertakers, I'm interested

No judgement from me man!
We all have our kicks. Lol


It is perplexing though, maybe hot Chick's get tired of sexual harassment in the work place and look for clients with lower libido.

lone-wolf
03-10-2020, 03:16 PM
The main stories I hear from guy friends about their wives, is how(according to the wife) everyone at the wife's work place are terrible workers and gossip to no end, ect. ect. like it's still high school.
A lady that doesn't put herself back into high school is pretty intriguing. Unless the corpses are talking back.

Waynetheman
03-10-2020, 04:11 PM
In the trade about 10 years now and ran my own show for about 6. I’m getting off the tools to do something else while my apprentice will be the new face of the company. Really just got burned out being a one man show. I mostly did warehouse refrigeration and restaurant repair work not so much hvac but some for the places that called for it.

Found it to be pretty seasonal work with summer being way too busy and winter being fairly slow, I did enjoy seeing different places and things with each call out, and having preventative maintenance contracts helped damper the slowness but I don’t expect that to be your worry if you work for someone.

lone-wolf
03-10-2020, 04:23 PM
Word of warning, electrical work on 100yr old homes that aren't gutted is a big pita
Running a wire 20ft, who would of thought that'd be an all day job.

You can guess what I was up to today.

Candychikita
03-11-2020, 03:49 AM
Heh. I know a number of ladies who went into undertaking and funeral sales. They get to do makeup and it's quiet and people leave you alone. For funeral sales they use customer service and emotional IQ but it's pretty much a guaranteed sale. Something something death and taxes?

FH - I worked the office for HVAC controls once upon a time. They make brisk business, it's mostly inside (some rooftop airhandler business etc) and relatively clean. We had installs and service (lots of business converting pneumatic controls). Bit of a niche market, skills needed were computer aptitude and they were snagging electrical apprentices to cross over to the dark side. Commercial work, not residential, so things were getting paid on a regular basis. I can see this field becoming more valuable with automation happening and the skills are transferrable to other fields looking for automation. If you're smart and know your way around the tools and a computer, it's a possibility. All the chicken barns out here are going fully automated and the service calls you make bank. From what I'm hearing frommy trades HR people they are hungry for staff who are reliable. Just thought I'd put that out there to chew on.

shootemup604
03-11-2020, 07:47 AM
Heh. I know a number of ladies who went into undertaking and funeral sales. They get to do makeup and it's quiet and people leave you alone. For funeral sales they use customer service and emotional IQ but it's pretty much a guaranteed sale. Something something death and taxes?

FH - I worked the office for HVAC controls once upon a time. They make brisk business, it's mostly inside (some rooftop airhandler business etc) and relatively clean. We had installs and service (lots of business converting pneumatic controls). Bit of a niche market, skills needed were computer aptitude and they were snagging electrical apprentices to cross over to the dark side. Commercial work, not residential, so things were getting paid on a regular basis. I can see this field becoming more valuable with automation happening and the skills are transferrable to other fields looking for automation. If you're smart and know your way around the tools and a computer, it's a possibility. All the chicken barns out here are going fully automated and the service calls you make bank. From what I'm hearing frommy trades HR people they are hungry for staff who are reliable. Just thought I'd put that out there to chew on.

Yep, service calls for critical business, industry and agriculture are big money. Even as a 12 yr old kid I remember being at a care home with my dad on Christmas day at 7am because the heat cut out and he had to be there to fix it - he took me along to help if needed. Turned out to be a bad thermostat, in and out in 30 mins, cost to the client was probably over $500 for that level of service. Also for dairy farms and commercial kitchens (need to have copious amounts of hot water), chicken barns, any refrigeration, restaurant fryers/stoves - try replacing one at 9pm on a Friday night during a playoffs in a popular pub! Owner doesn't care about cost, doesn't even want to loose time troubleshooting, just get it swapped out now! Replace the gas valve and clean it up and sell it for $750 a week later.