Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating director and instructor Chris Walters has joined forces with the Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association (TACCA) of Greater Houston to offer a new curriculum of HVAC contractor education and training classes.
While Chris and the rest of the instructors at The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating offer education, hands-on-training, and certification for those beginning their careers in the HVAC industry, the new classes offered through TACCA have been designed to provide ongoing HVAC contractor education, updates, and hands-on training to current HVAC professionals.
Through these classes, HVAC contractors can stay up-to-date with the latest news, techniques, and training they need to be an effective and valuable member of the HVAC industry.
Over his 30 years of experience in the HVAC industry, working for many years as a contractor before becoming an instructor, Chris has identified many of the common shortcomings and issues that practicing HVAC contractors run up against over their careers. Chiefly among those include falling behind on the latest techniques, industry news, and falling out of practice on certain tasks they might not be regularly performing.
The core schedule of classes that Chris will be leading as part of TACCA’s offerings will cover topics meant to address these common issues and important areas. These classes will feature both classroom sessions and hands-on training, depending on the topic.
Jennifer Barta, executive director of TACCA, said that she is very excited about having Chris’ knowledge and experience available to TACCA members.
If you are a practicing HVAC professional and want to learn more about the new classes taught by Chris Walters through TACCA, head over to the TACCAGH website or contact or call the Training Center at (281) 580-4239.
The TACCAGH website also features information about becoming a TACCA member and enrolling in their job placement program for recent graduates here at the Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating.
Looking for a career change?
The first path people take in their career isn’t always the correct one. After many years at a job in a career you once saw as your passion or direction in life, many find themselves burnt out, lacking that passion they once had, or simply feel like they are wasting away sitting behind a desk all day. There is no shame in it. Career changes these days is actually more common than not.
If you are one of the many people out there who are in this kind of situation or feel this way, a fresh start could be just the thing you need to get your professional career back on track and find a new passion.
A career change to the HVAC industry is just the thing you need!
The students that come to us here at the Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating come to us from all sorts of different backgrounds. While some are starting their career in HVAC fresh out of school, many others are coming from a different career looking for a new and fulfilling career.
What that second group finds here is the introduction into a new career that is challenging, rewarding, interesting, and the exact change of scenery they need to find their lost passions.
If you are a hardworking professional who enjoys solving problems, helping others, and performing a valuable service and are looking for a new career path, a career in HVAC is the fresh start you need. Here’s why.
No previous experience required
One of the biggest challenges when shifting gears with your career then subsequently getting your foot in the door of the new career you are pursuing. Landing a job or returning to school for a field you haven’t studied or have experience in can be very difficult. The beauty of a career in HVAC is that all you need to get started is the willingness to learn and a good work ethic. Admission into the Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating doesn’t require previous experience in HVAC repair or installation.
Many of the students we train are completely new to the field, and that is completely fine. Our comprehensive training course covers everything a student needs to know to become a successful HVAC technician from the basics to the more complex subjects. Whether you have experience or not, every student is treated equally and begins on equal footing, making it a career that is very accessible to those interested.
Getting started isn’t just easy, but getting the education you need is equally accessible. Many careers require a college education from an expensive institution and various degrees that can take years to obtain. If you have already gone through that process before, the idea of doing it all again may feel impossible.
This is not the case with technical training. Getting the necessary education, training, and certification you need to get your HVAC career started from can be accomplished at the Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating in just 10 or 14 weeks at a fraction of the cost of a university. You don’t need to spend a lot of time or money getting your new career in HVAC started.
All are welcome
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you are a hard worker you can succeed in a career in HVAC. Despite what perceptions may be, the HVAC trade is made up of a diverse group of individuals with opportunities available for all interested in achieving them.
The HVAC industry welcomes all, with equal potential for men, women, and under-represented groups. There is no such thing as a “typical HVAC technician.” So, if you are considering a career switch to the HVAC industry, throw away any notions that you may not fit in or that there aren’t opportunities for someone like you, because there are plenty.
One of the biggest things that causes people to change their career is the loss of passion. They find themselves doing work that is no longer fulfilling to them and seek to find something that makes them happy and proud to do what they do. A career in HVAC offers the chance to learn and practice a trade that has a very in-demand skill set and provides a very valuable service to your community.
HVAC technicians acquire a set of skills that puts them in a position to provide a service that few others can. And, in many situations, you will be providing your customers with incredible relief by fixing the comfort systems in their home that keep them and their family’s warm in the winter and cool in the brutal summers. At the end of the day, you will be helping those in need and being someone’s hero by doing what you do. HVAC technicians perform a job that they can be proud of. What is more fulfilling than that?
Potential for growth
The biggest reason people find themselves changing careers however, according to a recent study, is people finding themselves running into a lack of opportunity for growth as well as professional and personal development. A career in HVAC is one that is filled with potential.
Due to an ongoing shortage in skilled labor, jobs in the HVAC industry are plentiful and come along with very competitive salaries. Honing your craft, continuing to educate yourself, and obtaining additional certifications can also open many doors for an HVAC technician to go out on their own and start their own business. There are many different paths the career of an HVAC technician can take if you are willing to go the extra mile.
Ready to reignite your career with a fresh start and career change? Learn about the upcoming classes here at the Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating or sit in on a session for free to learn if its right for you! Your new career is waiting for you here.
For years, R22 refrigerant was used in the majority of in-home air conditioning systems and considered the king of refrigeration. Well, the times have certainly changed.
Since January 2020, the production and importation of R22 has been banned, allowing only for continuing use of R22 from recycled or stockpiled reserves because of its negative impact on the environment. By January 2030, the EPA’s goal is to phase out the use of R22 almost entirely.
Considering that the majority of air conditioning and other cooling systems manufactured and installed before 2010, when heavy R22 regulations began, utilize R22 refrigerant, these mandates have changed much about the education and practices of HVAC technicians when it comes to refrigerants.
It has spurred us in the HVAC industry to explore and understand more environmentally and efficient refrigerant alternatives as well as inspired technicians to educate their customers on the matter. After all, the phasing out of R22 refrigerant is also going to put customers in the position to make some important decisions regarding their systems as well.
When those questions and decisions do come up, as an HVAC technician or a technician in training it’ll be your responsibility to help your customers make the best and most informed decisions for understanding and replacing their R22 refrigerant systems.
Here are some of the most important things for you and your customers to understand about R22 refrigerant.
Why R22 refrigerant is banned
The reason refrigerant has fallen under so much scrutiny over the past few decades is the negative impact it has been found to have on the environment. Refrigerants can produce emissions that are destructive to the Earth’s ozone layer and contribute to global warming.
This revelation spurred the EPA and governments across the world to begin enforcing stricter regulations on the use of refrigerants and creating new required certifications for HVAC technicians on the handling and disposal of refrigerant, such as the EPA 608 Certification.
So, while 2020 was a year that ramped up restrictions on production and importing of R22 refrigerant, regulations on environmentally harmful refrigerant has been ongoing for decades, with 2010 being a major turning point.
Your customers can continue to use their equipment
The most common question you are likely to encounter from your customers regarding their R22 refrigerant units is “am I still allowed to use it?” The answer is, of course, yes. While the ban exists to cease the production and import of R22, it doesn’t ban the ongoing use of it. So, it is important to put your customer’s mind at ease on this fact.
However, while the ongoing use of their current system is fine, it will present some serious issues for them going forward. As their HVAC technician, someone they should value and trust as an expert in your field, you do have an obligation to inform your customers of what they will be dealing with long term with these systems.
Maintaining their R22 refrigerant system is going to cost them
Because of the ban in production and import, ongoing repairs and replacements on R22 refrigerant systems will have to come from the remaining stockpile of reserves – a stockpile that will continue to rapidly dwindle over the next few years.
As supply diminishes and repair and maintenance demand for these systems (many of which installed before 2010) increases, it will create a landscape in which the cost of these repairs will rise and rise and rise. In the next few years, a refrigerant replacement job that would normally be fairly straightforward and relatively inexpensive will cost your customers a great deal more because of the limited supply.
As you encounter customers with cooling systems that utilize R22, it is a good idea to make this situation known to them and help them understand their options going forward. They may be stubborn and OK with paying more for the sake of living with their system until it finally kicks the bucket. However, you should make them at least understand the value of upgrading and replacing their cooling systems with more efficient and environmentally friendly modern systems.
As HVAC technicians continue to work in a post-R22 world, knowing the available R22 alternatives will help you be a better and more well-rounded HVAC technician, as well as become a more valuable resource for your customers when they are searching for replacements for their outdated cooling systems.
While no refrigerant is perfect and each has their own pluses and minuses, our preferred R22 alternative is R421a. R421a has 0 ODP, is non-flammable, is useful in a number of different applications, can in many cases can be used as a direct R22 replacement, and most importantly is one of the more environmentally friendly refrigerants available.
R32, R407c, and other greener refrigerant alternatives are also available and preferred by some. Like we said, there is no end-all be-all refrigerant choice. Good HVAC technicians will familiarize themselves with as many as they can and come to their own conclusions as to which they prefer and recommend to their customers.
The Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning takes the health of the beautiful world around us very seriously, so refrigerant education is something we take very seriously and even make EPA 608 certification a part of the requirements for graduation from our school.
If you are interested in learning more about a career in HVAC as a technician, check out upcoming schedule of classes to find the session that best suits you.
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.