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What HVAC Technicians Need to Know About EPA 608 Certification

What HVAC Technicians Need to Know About EPA 608 Certification

What HVAC Technicians Need to Know About EPA 608 Certification

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. 

  1. For servicing small appliances (Type I).
  2. For servicing or disposing of high- or very high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and MVACs (Type II).
  3. For servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances (Type III).
  4. 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.

Proper Acetylene Torch Safety

Proper Acetylene Torch Safety

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.

4 Important HVAC Certifications for HVAC Technician to Know

4 Important HVAC Certifications for HVAC Technician to Know

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.

HVAC Certification

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 

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. 

Perks of Joining a Free HVAC Class at the Training Center of Heating & Air Conditioning

Perks of Joining a Free HVAC Class at the Training Center of Heating & Air Conditioning

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. 

It’s free!

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.

Common Electrical Terms You Need to Know

Common Electrical Terms You Need to Know

The beautiful thing about beginning your career as an HVAC technician is that you don’t need any previous experience or knowledge. At the Training Center for Heating and Air Conditioning, our classes cover the absolute basics, so students of all knowledge levels can be on equal footing. All you need is a good work ethic and a willingness to learn.

That being said, for anybody considering education and training in heating and cooling can certainly benefit from familiarizing themselves with some important elements of working in HVAC. 

One of the most important things to understand during your HVAC training is the language and terminology. HVAC installation and repair incorporates many common electrical terms that you may have heard before or run into during previous science classes in school. Understanding these terms is crucial for HVAC technicians and beginning your education with knowledge of them can get you started off on the right foot.

Here are some common electrical terms HVAC technicians need to be familiar with and what they mean. Each of these terms relates to different materials and parts of a heating or cooling system that relate to the transfer of electricity. 

Conductor

An electrical conductor is any kind of material that allows electricity to flow easily through it with little to no resistance. Certain metals like copper, aluminum, silver, and gold are all terrific conductors of electricity. This is why many of the wires used in HVAC equipment are made of these materials. This is also a great reason why practicing extreme safety precautions when working with live wires.

Resistor

An electrical resistor is any material or component in the electrical circuit that resists the flow of electricity, limiting the amount of electricity that passes through them at any given time. Resistors are important because without them limiting electrical flow to motors, coils, lights, and heat elements, these components would become overloaded with electricity and more quickly burn out or overload causing a loss of efficiency and creating potential hazards.

Capacitor

An electrical capacitor stores electricity for short periods. Many HVAC systems have dual capacitors, a start capacitor and a run capacitor. The start capacitor provides the electrical power needed to get the compressor or fan motor of the heating and cooling system started up. The run capacitor, on the other hand, in turn, supplies the compressor or motor the energy it requires to keep them running.

Insulator

An electrical insulator is a material or component of a heating and cooling system that does not allow electricity to flow through it. Wires and thermal pipes in an HVAC system are equipped with insulating coverings to prevent the loss of energy and heat so the unit can run more efficiently.

Now don’t think that knowing the meaning of these common electrical terms makes you an expert. There are still plenty of other important terms you’ll need to know as you continue your HVAC education. However, for folks looking to start their journey without much past experience, understanding these terms can get you off to a good start.

Ready to begin your HVAC career? Call the Training Center for Heating and Air Conditioning today to learn about our upcoming classes and reserve your spot today.  

Different Types of HVAC Units

Different Types of HVAC Units

You might not have given the types of HVAC units available much thought when installing one in your home. However, each unit has its own benefits and drawbacks. If you plan on installing an HVAC unit, it is worth taking a second look at the four basic types of HVAC units available. 

Heating and Cooling Split Systems

Heating and Cooling Split Systems are the most common types of HVAC systems. The system is split between two main units, one for heating and one for cooling. Hence the name “split system.”

These units contain both an indoor and outdoor component. Do you know that large box you see blowing out air on the side of homes? That is the outdoor piece, also known as the condensing unit. This cooling system outside using refrigerant, compressors, and coils to cool air, and a fan to blow out hot air.

This system uses a traditional thermostat to manage the temperature. Because of this, the system is able to keep most houses at a desirable temperature. These systems are most widely used because they are most generally applicable. These units do not require any specific needs or environmental factors. This makes them perfect for most homes.

Hybrid Split System

A hybrid system is similar to the split system, but with some key differences. These systems are on the rise due to their ability to mitigate energy costs through their electric hybrid heating system. This differentiates them from other types of HVAC systems.

The ability to switch between gas power to electric power allows homeowners to decide how they want to heat their homes. Gas power is much quicker and more complete than electric, but electric power is more efficient and quieter. This system uses traditional ducts, as well as thermostats, and provides all the benefits of a split system, but with the added option to conserve energy. Plus, these units can lessen utility bills.

Duct Free

A duct-free system, also known as a mini-split system, provides big benefits for certain needs. However, these systems typically have large upfront costs. These HVAC units are individual units in each room. These units are perfect for new additions to homes, such as garages, additions, or additional buildings, because it is easier to install. Plus, this system allows independent control over each unit. These types of HVAC units are also beneficial for service businesses such as hotels or venues, allowing tenants to control individual temperatures. 

Another benefit is energy conservation since individual rooms that are being used are being heated, it keeps exterior or unused rooms from wasting energy. The small size of a ductless cooling system and its zoning capabilities allows for greater energy efficiency.

Despite the benefits, these systems require regular and intensive cleaning and maintenance. This is important to keep up with as the cost of total repairs and replacements are quite expensive. 

Packaged Heating and Air

Packaged heating and air is the most niche unit. This system is typically stored within the house and is usually kept in an attic or top storage place. It serves to both cool and heat a home.

Its compact size makes it useful for smaller spaces or houses. Its size allows it to be placed within the home if the exterior is not an option. Despite its size, this type of unit is able to be very efficient and easily maintained. These units are typically used in warmer climates since the heating element is not as strong as other systems. 

There are many types of heating and cooling systems, but now we hope you are a little more prepared to make a decision. These types of systems are just a fraction of the things you will learn about during your time here at the Training Center of Air Conditioning & Heating in Houston, Texas. If you or someone you know is interested in signing up for classes, please feel free to contact us so we can chat about available options.