Mathew Perkins, Service manager at Northernair in Lismore. Photo Mireille Merlet-Shaw / The Northern Star
Mathew Perkins, Service manager at Northernair in Lismore. Photo Mireille Merlet-Shaw / The Northern Star Mireille Merlet-Shaw

A Day in the Life: Career with cool factor

IT'S one of the hottest jobs around.

That's because, in the summer months when temperatures soar and air-conditioners are in overdrive, it's the repairers who are called to the rescue.

Northernair service manager Mathew Perkins said that as the mercury rises, so does the number of air-conditioning repair call-outs.

"The amount of service calls, especially in this heat, there's a ridiculous amount," he said.

"On Saturday our on-call mechanic got 20 calls."

But it's not just the summer months that bring in all the business anymore.

"These days it's not as seasonal as it used to be because in winter now people still rely on their heating cycle," Mr Perkins said.

"We find the quieter months are usually between seasons."

From now until March, the Northernair repairer will be working 8-10 hour days, seven days a week, trying to keep up with calls for repairs.

And it's not just the hours that make this job particularly demanding.

Few clients are in good spirits about their air-conditioners breaking down.

"Whenever someone calls in they're never happy that their air-conditioner is broken down," Mr Perkins said.

"When it hits 33 to 34 (degrees) onwards, people's tolerance just goes completely out the window."

Mr Perkins said ducted air-conditioning systems can also require between four and five hours of work in the ceiling space.

"If you have to be up there for any more than five minutes, it's just unsafe," he said.

"We very much have a duty of care with our repairmen.

"We can't expect them to put themselves in a position where it's unsafe or it's risking their health."

Starting out in 1992, Mr Perkins said he didn't know what to expect.

"I thought refrigeration air-conditioning was working on fridges and things like that," he said.

"But it's a really good trade to get into, there's never a dull moment."

He said the average day can involve anything in the repairing, maintaining and installing air-conditioners for residential, commercial or industrial purposes, requiring a range of skills such as plumbing and electrical.

"You need a really good knowledge of refrigerant types, how refrigerants work in systems, good electrical knowledge and be able to open multi-storey switchboards and understand exactly how every single aspect of that switchboard works."



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