There are many different types of certifications that are available to those in the HVAC industry. Some HVAC certifications are optional and can help you improve your skill set and appeal when pursuing new jobs and eventually starting your own business. Others are mandatory, meaning you are not allowed to practice heating and cooling installation and repair without them.
One of the most important certifications that falls into that second category is the EPA 608 Certification. If you have been around HVAC for any amount of time or done any amount of research into beginning your career as a technician, there is a good chance you have heard of this all-important certification.
This certification is required for every technician to demonstrate that technicians have the knowledge and ability to safely maintain, service, repair, or dispose of refrigerant-containing equipment in order to help preserve and protect the environment.
Since this certification is so important to every professional in the HVAC industry, it is important that you know the ins, outs, and everything in between that you need to know to acquire, maintain, and adhere to the necessary regulations.
The Basics of EPA 608 Certification
Refrigerant is an essential component in the kind of heating and cooling equipment that is worked with and on every day by heating and cooling technicians. However, over the years it has been found that refrigerant is a major contributor to the buildup of Greenhouse Gases, contributing to many environmental problems including climate change.
In order to combat the unsafe distribution of this potentially hazardous material into the environment, in the early 1990’s the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took measures to hold those that work with the material accountable. As part of an amendment to The Clean Air established in the 1960’s, EPA regulations 40 CFR Part 82, Subpart F under Section 608 established a mandate that anyone who maintains, services, repairs, or disposes of refrigerant-containing equipment must be certified to do so.
What Certifications Do You Need?
The EPA 608 Certification actually isn’t just a single certification you need to obtain. Depending on who you are and what equipment you will be working with, there are actually separate certifications available that you may have to obtain.
The varying types of certification are dependent upon the size of the equipment you will be working on in your line of work and the level of pressure the appliances are. Here is the gamut of EPA certifications.
- For servicing small appliances (Type I).
- For servicing or disposing of high- or very high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and MVACs (Type II).
- For servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances (Type III).
- For servicing all types of equipment (Universal).
Achieving the Universal level ensures you are certified in every type of equipment and as well-rounded of an HVAC technician as possible. Fortunately, once you have obtained your certification you will never have to take the test again. The certification never expires and never has to be renewed.
What is on the EPA 608 Certification Test?
The EPA 608 Certification test consists of 25 questions for each of the four certification levels, for a total of 100 questions. The questions asked are multiple choice questions and cover all of the information covered in your HVAC class.
To get an idea of what the certification test looks like and the kinds of questions that will be asked, you can look at this practice test.
How Can You Prepare?
This required certification is mandatory to practice HVAC installation and repairs, so it is important that you are well-prepared and ready for the test. That is why the EPA 608 Certification is an area thoroughly covered in the Training Center for Heating and Air Conditioning’s curriculum.
In fact, every student who graduates from our training program will leave with EPA 608 Certification along with their certificate of completion from the school. Our program will cover everything you will need to know in order to be successful on the certification exam and will provide you with text materials and hands-on instruction for safely handling refrigerant-containing equipment. You can also find a copy of the EPA’s open book manual here.
Want to begin your HVAC career with a training program that will thoroughly prepare you for the all-important EPA 608 Certification? Check out our upcoming schedule of classes and ask us how to get started today.
As an HVAC technician, you will be expected to become proficient with a manner of different tools and pieces of equipment in order to obtain your certification. While some things like screwdrivers and pliers are obviously elementary, you’ll also need to learn more complex and even dangerous pieces of equipment such as acetylene torches.
Useful for a wide array of applications such as brazing copper connections, your acetylene torch is a best friend for HVAC technicians and a necessary piece of equipment for completing many installations and repairs for your customers’ heating and cooling systems.
However, as you may expect, acetylene torches are not a tool to be used lightly. Used carelessly, your handy torch can prove to be extremely dangerous. Painful burns and hazardous explosions can easily occur if you don’t treat your torch with the care and respect it deserves.
Acetylene torch safety is a topic we cover with our students in extreme depth as part of the HVAC training program here at the Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning in Houston, Texas. However, for incoming students or those interested in pursuing a career as an HVAC technician, coming in with an established mindset of safety and respect for this essential yet dangerous tool is a great way to give yourself an edge.
As you begin to educate yourself on what it takes to be an effective and safe HVAC technician, here are some acetylene torch safety tips you need to know and follow.
Always survey the area
Before you light your torch, it is essential that you check your surroundings and make sure it is a suitable area to do so. Make sure there are no flammable objects and that the area is properly ventilated. In many instances, it is a good idea to have a fire watch with you to have your back in case of trouble, or at the very least a fire extinguisher is present. If anyone in the present area isn’t qualified to do so, make sure they have vacated to a safe distance before beginning.
Always light with an approved striker
There is most certainly a right and wrong way to light your torch. Never use matches or a lighter to do so. These methods will put your hand too close to the flame and you will very likely burn your hands. Not to mention, the design of a common light essentially turns them into little pipe bombs when exposed to flame. Take any lighters off your person before you light your torch as well. When exposed to open flames or extreme heat they can combust.
Protective gear isn’t optional
It isn’t just encouraged to wear protection, it is an absolute must! Personal protective gear such as glasses and gloves are the absolute minimum. Consider the circumstances you are working around. If you grab a red hot, just brazed piece of copper, it will be extremely painful. Imagine unpleasant the feeling of melting skin is, and bad burns on the hands make tomorrow’s jobs much harder. Goggles will help prevent hot liquid silver from making its way into your eyes and causing serious, irreversible damage to your vision.
Follow OSHA rules
OSHA has particular rules that all acetylene torch operators need to adhere too. Such rules include the use of protective caps on torch bottles during transportation, storing oxygen separately from the fuel, storing bottles upright, never opening the fuel gas more than one turn, and if you are using a wrench-type valve, the wrench must stay in place for fast shut off if needed.
Oxygen is extremely flammable
Oxygen is the most dangerous of the gasses in the torch set. When fire is exposed to pure oxygen it accelerates at an amazing rate and the risk of an explosion is greatly increased. People often think oxygen and air are the same thing, which leads to a misunderstanding of the explosive relationship between fire and oxygen. However, oxygen and air is not the same thing. Air is only a little over 21% oxygen, but the oxygen in your torch is almost 100% pure oxygen.
Never use without approved flame arrestors and valves
Flame arrestors, check valves, and flashback arrestors are safety measures that help keep your acetylene torch’s flame under control. Using these safety measures greatly reduces any chance of fire traveling back into the hoses and regulators and resulting in exposure to large quantities of oxygen.
Acetylene torch safety and care is so important for the well-being and effectiveness of an HVAC technician, which is why safety is a topic we cover in depth in our program. Learn more about our upcoming schedule of classes here.
While some careers simply require one degree in order to become an eligible candidate in the eyes of potential employers, HVAC isn’t quite as simple. While all it takes to succeed as an HVAC technician is an aptitude and a desire to learn a rewarding and skilled trade, there are certain, and usually multiple boxes, that employers and the state will need to see before you are likely to land a job as a heating and cooling tech.
The world of HVAC is filled with all sorts of different HVAC certifications. Some are required, some are not but can provide a tremendous boost to your skillset and appeal as a job candidate. It can all become a little confusing and disorienting to know where to start.
Let’s simplify things a little bit for you! Yes, there is a whole world of different accreditations you can get, but today let’s just focus on four of the most important HVAC certifications that everyone pursuing a career in the industry needs to have, or at the very least know the importance of.
Every HVAC technician needs to start somewhere, and that somewhere is graduating from an HVAC training program. In some states HVAC technicians are not required to have certification, but here in Texas technicians are required to have one of either a Class A license or a Class B license in the field of heating and air conditioning.
Even if you are considering a career in HVAC in a state that doesn’t require certification, it is strongly recommended that you get this level of certification. Not only will it better prepare you for working in the field, but it will give you an enormous advantage during your job application process. Although not always required, most heating and cooling companies won’t employ you without certification.
EPA 608 Certification
EPA 608 Certification is a required certification for HVAC technicians as part of the Clean Air Act because of the position’s requirements of dealing with equipment that has the potential to release refrigerant into the atmosphere. Refrigerants have been shown to contribute to buildup of Greenhouse gases and can have negative impacts on the environment. Not to mention, refrigerants can have adverse effects on human health too.
Depending on the equipment you will be handling, there are four different levels of certification you will need to obtain. As an HVAC technician, passing these tests and obtaining these levels of certification shows that you are proficient in safely and responsibly working with equipment that contains this potentially harmful substance.
NATE Certification is one of the most highly-recognized and respected certifications in the HVAC industry. While not required to begin work in the HVAC industry, those who take the time to obtain NATE certification can further separate themselves from the crowd and are more likely to have a longer and more successful career.
There are four levels of NATE Certification one can achieve at different stages throughout the course of their HVAC career, from the entry-level Ready-To-Work Certificate to Senior Level Efficiency Analyst Certification that requires multiple years experience and multiple previous NATE Certifications. Each certification covers different levels of fundamental and specialty skills within the HVAC industry.
HVAC Excellence Certification
HVAC Excellence Certification is a level of certification that is of use to HVAC technicians who may potentially be moving to different states and are unsure of the necessary qualification levels to practice in their new home state. This certification provides national recognition of one’s HVAC technical skills.
However, this doesn’t replace state certification for those that require it. HVAC Excellence can simply help give you a leg up when dealing with potential employers as you round out your necessary certification.
Graduation from the Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning guarantees you your HVAC certification as well as certification for EPA 608. Our program will also help prepare you for other important HVAC certifications. Like NATE and HVAC Excellence, and give you advice and guidance on how to obtain them.
Begin a rewarding and fulfilling career as an HVAC technician in Houston, Texas by learning more about our program and our upcoming schedule of HVAC classes today.
Being an HVAC technician isn’t all just about working on heating and air conditioning systems. Sure, that is a big part of the job and it requires a lot of in-classroom training and education to become a master of that trade. However, often overlooked as another important aspect of life for an HVAC technician – almost equally important as working on equipment – is working with people.
Talking with customers before and after your inspections or repairs is integral to the process of helping your customers fully understand the situation they are experiencing. Chances are, the people you’ll interact with on a daily basis as an HVAC technician won’t be very happy to see you. They are likely going to be uncomfortable, given the condition of their comfort system, and also looking down the barrel of a hefty bill.
The circumstances in which you’ll find your customers necessitates the need for HVAC to know exactly how to talk to customers. Much like the art of knowing how to fix an air conditioner, correctly dealing with customers who are going to be emotional or even disgruntled is equally an art that takes time and practice.
How to talk to customers is an aspect we cover in-depth here at the Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning, so let’s cover some of the basic principles here now.
Be respectful at all times… no matter what
You’ve just broken the news to a customer that they are going to have to spend a couple of thousand dollars on repairing or installing a new air conditioner in the middle of summer: tempers are going to be high. Customers may get mad, they may even get downright nasty with you.
What is important in this situation is no matter what happens, it is the responsibility of the HVAC technician to remain calm, cool, and collected at all times and be respectful to the customer. Always keep your voice down, always address your customer as “sir” or “ma’am,” and never ever stoop to any nastiness, even if they start it first.
Always keep in mind that your behavior and how you conduct yourself doesn’t just affect you. When you are on a call and interacting with a customer, you aren’t just representing yourself, but you are also representing the company you work for.
Leave the technical jargon at the office
Heating and cooling technicians possess a skill set and knowledge that few do. The training you go through that gives you the ability to look at, understand, and repair an HVAC system requires an understanding of a certain set of words, terms, equipment, and lots of technical jargon to go along with it.
While commonplace to you, the terms you use during the course of your job are completely foreign to your customers. Using words and terminology that your customers are likely not going to be familiar with puts them at a disadvantage in the conversation and can make them feel like you outsmart them in the conversation by talking circles around them.
While you of course do have a better understanding of the situation than your customer does, you never want your customer to feel talked down to. So, keep all the technical jargon back at the office when you are talking to your coworkers. Always keep any technical talk with customers in a manner or presentation that they can easily understand so they don’t feel out of the loop. It is their system after all.
Give it to them straight
A lot of times as a technician you have to give customers bad news. Something is broken, it needs to be fixed or replaced, and it may not be cheap. Think about how you would want to be treated if the shoe was on the other foot. Would you want your service tech to dance around the facts, throw around a lot of hypotheticals, relying on technical jargon, and wait to dump any information on you until after you have received the estimate?
Or, would you prefer your tech to give you the news straight and upfront so that you know exactly what the issue is and how you can fix it? We imagine, like us, you prefer option two. Bad news is always going to be bad news. But, if the person delivering the news is honest and upfront, it always tends to soften the blow a bit.
Dealing with customers the right way is just as important as fixing their heating and cooling systems. That is why at the Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning this is a subject that we spend a lot of time on. If you are interested in beginning your career as an HVAC technician, learn more about our available and upcoming classes by calling us at 281.580.4239.
Many people may see a career in heating and air conditioning repair and installation as an enticing and interesting potential career choice. However, the commitment of actually enrolling in a trade school or taking an HVAC class, although more accommodating and far cheaper than a four-year college, is still a big step. For those on the fence, it may be too much if they don’t know exactly what they are getting into.
That is why at the Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning, we offer a 3-hour HVAC class that anyone, even your friends and family, are welcome to sit in on completely free of charge. We think this opportunity creates the perfect environment for those interested, but unsure of the commitment, in beginning their career as an HVAC technician.
Here are some of the perks you get from joining us in one of these free 3-hour HVAC classes as you explore your options.
Who doesn’t like free stuff? Free means it won’t cost you anything except three hours of your time. In the long run, don’t you think three hours is a pretty reasonable investment if on the other side of the experience you come out ready to start a new career?
Let’s say after one session you decide the program isn’t for you. No big deal! All it cost you was a few hours of your time and no money out of your pocket.
Find out if HVAC is right for you
Starting a new career path can be intimidating. What if you start down the path and realize it actually isn’t that interesting to you, it isn’t what you thought it would be, or it just isn’t for you? By the time you figure that out, you may have already devoted a large amount of time and effort (not to mention money) into your career endeavors. The idea of pulling out and switching gears at that point may not be possible or back-breaking at the least.
Joining a free HVAC class at our training school gives you a chance to get a first-hand, crash-course experience and look at the world of becoming an HVAC technician. In the extensive time, you’ll spend in the classroom, you should be able to determine right then and there if HVAC is right for you without just making a blind leap of faith.
One-on-one with the instructor
During the course of your 3-hour free HVAC class, you won’t just have access to the classroom and the ability to sit in the training for the day, you’ll have one-on-one access to The Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning instructor, Chris Walters and his over 40 years of experience in the heating and cooling industry.
There isn’t a situation he hasn’t seen or a question he hasn’t been asked. During your free session, you’ll have a chance to pick Chris’s brain and get the answers you are looking for as you determine if enrolling at the training center is right for you, questions about HVAC careers, or how we can help you get started.
So what do you think? Are you ready to get started? Our free 3-hour HVAC classes are the perfect way to get a taste for the education you’ll receive at the Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning before you jump in headfirst.
Learn more or find out how to schedule your free session by calling 281.580.4239 today.