Tag: HVAC Training
You’ve finally found the HVAC technician position you have been looking for. You fired off your pristine resume and quickly got a call back asking you for an in person interview.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry, you have a fantastic opportunity in front of you! Here are 5 quick tips to keep in mind before you head off to that first HVAC interview.
I can’t stress the importance of this more. Honesty is key.
When I say honesty, I should also explicitly say that you should also avoid “exaggerating” your abilities or work experience. I know that it can be tempting to maybe bolster your past a bit, but in the long run, it will likely only hurt you.
Play To Your Strengths
A lot of people forget to tell people about the things that they are best at. Remember that’s its their job to ask the questions, but it’s your job to respond with the appropriate answer. Let me give you an example.
Lets say that during your HVAC technician interview, you get asked, “Do you have any hands on experience?” If the answer is no, then maybe you can add a few details about the experience you do have. Do you already have your EPA 608 certification? NATE certification? HVAC degree from a college? Worked on car air conditioning systems? These are all quick tidbits that you can throw in to show that although you may not have the experience they are referencing, you still have skills that would be valuable to their company.
Learn About Their Company
Doing a little homework before you head into the interview can show that you are serious about the position and what the company’s values are.
A lot of companies have certain ideas or values that they look to operate by. A lot of times you can briefly speak about how you want to work for a company that has values that align with yours.
There are other pieces of info you can pick up as well like how the company started, locations, goals, awards, etc.
References are one of the best way to show an employer your abilities.
If you have previous work experience, it’s a good idea to bring your old supervisors contact information with you. Of course, this is assuming that your previous supervisors would have good things to say about your work. It is also polite to ask people for their permission before listing them as a resource.
If you don’t have previous work experience, character references could also be an option.
Provide Real Life Examples Where Possible
The HVAC industry is a technical field, with lots of expertise needed. This gives you a chance to expand on your knowledge and problem solving skills.
It is not uncommon for employers to ask you about specific HVAC technical questions about procedures, refrigerants, AC units, etc. When possible, you should answer these types of questions by talking about previous times in your work history where you had to solve a similar problem. Explain what the problem was, how you overcame it, and what was the result
I hope these tips help you land that HVAC job you have been hoping for. Don’t forget to have fun.
The EPA 608 certification is the first HVAC certification you should pursue. Why? Because it is a federally mandated certification! That means that if you are going to be buying or working with refrigerants, you are going to need to pass this test first.
Types of EPA 608 Certification
As discussed in our What is EPA Certification? post, there are 3 types of EPA 608 certification available. They are:
- Type I – Small Appliances
- Type II – High-Pressure
- Type III – Low Pressure
There is a specific exam associated with each of the separate types of certifications. In addition, you will need to pass a CORE exam that is required for all certifications.
The CORE EPA 608 certification exam covers a wide variety of HVAC topics – it is the least “focused” exam, if you will. The exams relating to the Type I, Type II, and Type II certifications are much more centered around their applicable topic, and rightfully so. According the EPA, the CORE exam consists of the following topics:
- Destruction of ozone by chlorine
- Presence of chlorine in CFC and HCFC refrigerants
- Identification of CFC, HCFC, and HFC refrigerants (not chemical formulas, but idea that R-12 is a CFC, R-22 is an HCFC, R-134 is an HFC, etc.)
- Idea that CFCs have higher ozone-depletion potential (ODP) than HCFCs, which in turn have higher ODP than HFCs
- Health and environmental effects of ozone depletion
- Evidence of ozone depletion and role of CFCs and HCFCs
Clean Air Act and Montreal Protocol
- CFC phaseout date
- Venting prohibition at servicing
- Venting prohibition at disposal
- Venting prohibition on substitute refrigerants in November, 1995
- Maximum penalty under CAA
- Montreal Protocol (international agreement to phase out production of ozone-depleting substances)
Section 608 Regulations
- Definition/identification of high and low-pressure refrigerants
- Definition of system-dependent vs. self-contained recovery/recycling equipment
- Identification of equipment covered by the rule (all air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment containing CFCs or HCFCs except motor vehicle air conditioners)
- Need for third-party certification of recycling and recovery equipment manufactured after November 15, 1993
- Standard for reclaimed refrigerant (ARI 700)
Substitute Refrigerants and oils
- Absence of “drop-in” replacements
- Incompatibility of substitute refrigerants with many lubricants used with CFC and HCFC refrigerants and incompatibility of CFC and HCFC refrigerants with many new lubricants (includes identification of lubricants for given refrigerants, such as esters with 134; alkylbenzenes for HCFCs)
- Fractionation problem–tendency of different components of blends to leak at different rates
- Refrigerant states (vapor vs. liquid) and pressures at different points of refrigeration cycle; how/when cooling occurs
- Refrigeration gauges (color codes, ranges of different types, proper use)
- Need to avoid mixing refrigerants
- Factors affecting speed of recovery (ambient temperature, size of recycling or recovery equipment, hose length and diameter, etc.)
- Need to evacuate system to eliminate air and moisture at the end of service
- Risks of exposure to refrigerant (e.g., oxygen deprivation, cardiac effects, frost bite, long-term hazards)
- Personal protective equipment (gloves, goggles, self-contained breathing apparatus–SCBA–in extreme cases, etc)
- Reusable (or “recovery”) cylinders vs. disposable cylinders (ensure former DOT approved, know former’s yellow and gray color code, never refill latter)
- Risks of filling cylinders more than 80 percent full
- Use of nitrogen rather than oxygen or compressed air for leak detection
- Use of pressure regulator and relief valve with nitrogen
- Labels required for refrigerant cylinders (refrigerant identification, DOT classification tag)
EPA 608 Certification – Wrapping Up
As you can see, there are quite a few topics here. In a later post we are going to dive into the EPA 608 certification exam in much more detail to hopefully shed light on some of the topics you may not be familiar with.
Also, you may want to have a look at the HVAC training locations in your state.
Have you taken the EPA 608 Certification exam? Have any tips you would like to share with others? Was it a piece of cake? Impossible? Let us know your thoughts!
NATE certification (North American Technician Excellence) is widely considered to the be the gold standard of excellence in HVAC training and certification. Consumer Reports has recently started recommending that any HVAC work you are having done be completed by a NATE certified contractor.
NATE certification does not have any eligibility requirements – no previous work experience or training needed. All you have to do is register for, and pass the exam. After passing, you will receive a NATE ID card to show to prospective employers and/or clients to prove that you are NATE certified.
NATE certification exams consist of a core exam and a specialty exam. You are offered the choice of a focus of either installation or service. There are a total of 21 specialty exams for you to choose from. Each of the specialties listed below are offered with the focus of installation or service.
- Air Conditioning
- Air Distribution
- Air-to-Air Heat Pumps
- Gas Furnaces
- Oil Furnaces
- Hydronics Gas
- Hydronics Oil
- Light Commercial Refrigeratioin
- Commercial Refrigeration
- Ground Source Heat Pump Loop Installer
- HVAC Efficiency Analyst (This exam is a Senior Level exam – there is no specific focus attached)
As an example, you could choose to take the Core installation exam, along with the Air Distribution installation exam to become certified. You could also choose to take the Core service exam, along with the Air Conditioning service exam to become certified.
NATE does not administer the exams themselves so you will need to locate a testing location near you. Testing locations can be found on the NATE website. You must pass both the core and specialty exams in order to become certified. If you pass one exam and fail the other, you will have 2 years to pass the other exam. If 2 years have elapsed since you passed the first exam, you will need to retake both exams. Once you have passed, your NATE certification will be good for 5 years. You may retake the tests prior to the 5 year mark to regain certification for an additional 5 years.
NATE certification exam fees vary so please check with your local testing location for fee information.
Have you already received your EPA Certification? If not, check out our article explaining what you need to know to become EPA Certified.
The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has a certification program that is required by federal law in order to be able to handle or work with refrigerants called EPA certification. This is often the first certification that HVAC professionals pursue being that it is required by law. There are two different types of EPA certification:
EPA 608 Certification
The first, and most commonly pursued certificate is the EPA 608 Certification. There are 4 different types of certification depending on the type of work you will be conducting:
- Type I – Can only work on small appliances containing 5 lbs or less of refrigerant
- Type II – Can only work on medium, high, and very high pressure appliances
- Type III – Can only work on low pressure appliances
- Universal Certification – Someone who possesses Type I, Type II, and Type III certifications.
All of the certification tests also require you to pass a CORE exam. Any of the tests listed above may be taken one at a time, or all together at once in conjunction with the CORE exam.
The EPA 608 Certification is currently the only nationally mandated requirement. However, many states, or even some counties, have their own requirements in addition to the 608. Very few require additional certification (some do!) but many offer a state mandated exam in order to legally work with HVAC systems.
EPA 609 Certification
The EPA 609 Certification is specifically for those persons looking to work on motor vehicle air conditioning systems.
This certification allows the purchase of any refrigerant in any size from an auto supply house for use in the cooling of passenger compartments in motor vehicles. This certification is much less common and is pursued mainly by auto mechanics working with MVAC units. The exam is similar to those listed above. If you have no intention of working with MVAC units, this certification will most likely not be relevant for you.
For more information, visit the EPA Certification website.