Although a career in the HVAC industry is rewarding for most, there are areas that can be dangerous and require EPA certification. There are various systems a technician may encounter that are hazardous to their health and safety as well as the safety of others. Dangerous chemicals and gases require special expertise to troubleshoot and solve potential problems as they occur.
What Is The EPA?
EPA stands for the Environmental Protection Agency. It was created by the U.S. government in 1970, when it became increasingly apparent that air pollution was becoming a health hazard for the American population. The EPA’s mission is to keep Americans safe from environmental hazards where they live and where they work. Technicians within the HVAC industry, may be required to work with potentially environmentally hazardous equipment. Therefore the the Environmental Protection Agency mandates that before a technician can work on these kinds of systems. They must obtain EPA certification.
Are All HVAC Technicians Required To Get EPA Certified?
Technically, yes. Anyone working in the heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration industry that handles or will be required to handle any kind of “refrigerant” will be required to be EPA certified.
Types Of EPA Certification
There are three different specialties that one can become certified for.
- Small Appliance Certification-608 Type 1 certification and means you are certified to work on small appliances. These appliances must contain no more than five pounds of refrigerant.
- High Pressure Certification- This certification is called a 608 Type 2 certification. Obtaining this type of certification means you will be certified to work on appliances that are high or very high pressure systems. They must be non automotive and should not be any of the appliances covered under the EPA Small Appliance certification.
- Low Pressure Certification-This is also under the EPA section 608. It is a Type 3 certification that certifies you to work on low pressure appliances.
You can choose to specialize in one of the above or you can choose to specialize in all three. Passing all three exams means your EPA certification is “Universal.” This means you are certified to work within any of these areas. Before you take one or all of these types of certifications you will need to take and pass a Core exam. This exam is a basic skills and knowledge test. So for example once you pass the Core exam, you would then take one or all of the above specialty exams.
What Is Covered On The EPA Exams?
You must be able to demonstrate excellent knowledge in regards to how to properly handle environmentally hazardous waste and materials. Air-conditioning and refrigeration units contain hazardous gases. You should understand the process of how these gases are recycled and recovered. It will also test your knowledge of all safety regulations, policies and procedures. You must also demonstrate the ability to understand and perform leak testing for various HVAC-R systems.
The Benefits Of EPA Certification
Employers are actively seeking well qualified technicians that have taken the time to make sure they have as much HVAC training needed to execute their job professionally and accurately. If you plan to work in any area where the system may be potentially hazardous to the environment, you are required to get this certification.
You can enroll in an EPA approved certification program to learn about environmental systems. Approved programs can be found at local community colleges and trade schools. You can also inquire about this course where ever you received your HVAC Technician certification as well. If scheduling is an issue you can opt to enroll in an EPA approved online program.
There are also programs that will allow you to study for and take the exam the same day. Other programs may last 6 months or less. Which to choose depends on your own goals and time table. If an accelerated program works best for you then go for it. If you would rather take your time or if you need more time to absorb the content. Then by all means choose regular classroom instruction.
Check out some free EPA practice exams here.
In order to take the EPA exam, you must first successfully complete an accredited HVAC Certification program.