When hiring a HVAC company or a HVAC technician, you may often see a note in their credentials that they are EPA certified – but what does that even mean?
Here we are going to be taking a look at the EPA and what it means when a company or technician is EPA certified.
This way, you can filter out the useless qualifications from the ones that really matter so you can hire a safe and competent technician to help install your heating and air conditioning.
So, let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
What Is The EPA?
EPA stands for Environmental Protection Agency.
They are a governing body that was created by an act of congress in 1970 with the main purpose of making sure that our environment was protected from pollution.
To do this, the EPA is the body that passes and enforces environmental laws and regulations.
For example, if a company is purposefully spilling waste into our waters and rivers, the EPA is the governing body with the power to slap them with a fine and stop the pollution.
The reason behind the invention of the EPA is not only to protect the environment from our industrial impact, but also to make sure that our towns and cities are as clean and healthy as possible to benefit our own health.
Take our example of a company spilling waste into a river – what if your kids went and swam in that river, and what kind of sickness would they experience because of that?
The EPA is not only trying to protect the environment – they are also trying to protect us from environmental health side effects.
What Is EPA Certified?
For HVAC companies and technicians, the EPA offers a type of certification called the EPA 608 certification that proves that the technicians who are installing or fixing your home’s heating or air conditioning know how to safely do so.
The EPA certification is there to prove that the HVAC technicians know how to comply with the multiple laws and rules that are in place to ensure that your heating and air conditioning systems are safe for your home and the environment.
There are a lot of chemicals used in air conditioning units and heat pumps, and these chemicals can be a huge hazard to life and the environment – and it’s important that the HVAC technicians working in your home know how to handle those chemicals safely.
To achieve their EPA certification, every HVAC technician needs to pass a written test and there are four different levels available for them to achieve.
The Four Levels Of EPA Certification
There are four different levels of the EPA 608 certification and each one proves that a HVAC technician is qualified to work with certain appliances and equipment.
The Clean Air Act of 1990 made it mandatory for every HVAC technician to prove that they can work and maintain equipment related to air conditioning systems and refrigeration units.
So, before you hire a HVAC technician, you should make sure that they have an EPA certification and that it is the correct level for their work.
Type I certification means that the HVAC technician is qualified to serve small appliances.
This includes air conditioners and water coolers as well as other objects like household refrigerators.
It is the most basic level of qualification for an HVAC technician.
Type II certification means that the HVAC technician is qualified to service and dispose of high pressure refrigerant equipment.
This means that the HVAC technician can now work with air conditioners, heat pumps and refrigeration units on a more industrial level.
The Type III certification means that the HVAC technician can service and dispose of equipment that uses low pressure refrigerant. This includes chillers.
The fourth and final level of the EPA certification is the universal certification. This means that a HVAC technician can work with all the types of equipment listed above.
They can service and dispose of small appliances, high pressure and low pressure refrigerant equipment.
This is also one of the most popular levels of certification that most HVAC technicians go for as it gives them the ability to work with lots of different appliances.
Once a HVAC technician has their universal EPA certificate, then they can pretty much work with anything – so your HVAC technician and company are most likely going to have this level of certification.
What Do HVAC Technicians Need To Learn To Pass Their EPA Certification?
The EPA certification is there to make sure that HVAC technicians know more than just how to fix and install air conditioning and heating units.
When a HVAC technician sits down for their EPA certification test, they need to know and understand a range of laws and topics that all ensure that they know how to safely work with certain chemicals.
Without this qualification, the HVAC technician does not reach the EPA’s standards and is not allowed to work in the industry.
So, every HVAC technician must understand the following subjects.
They must understand the environmental impact of ODS (Ozone Depleting Substances) as they damage the upper ozone layer of our atmosphere.
They must also know and understand the Clean Air Act and Montreal Protocol so they know what is legal and what is not when it comes to air conditioning and heating standards.
Specifically, HVAC technicians must know about section 608 of the Clean Air Act – this is the section that appeals to them directly and why the EPA certification is also called the 608 certification.
HVAC technicians must also know everything about refrigerants and oils, including how to substitute them and how to dispose of them safely.
They must also cover the three Rs (Recover, Recycle, and Reclaim) and know the basic safety procedures should something go wrong.
Once a HVAC technician is aware of all this, they can achieve their EPA certification and be allowed to work within the industry.
Without it, a HVAC technician cannot work legally – and you should not hire anyone without the correct certifications.
So, the EPA certification is super important and you should ensure that any HVAC technician that comes to work with your air conditioning or heating systems has the appropriate certificate.
Without it, they are working illegally and could be putting you, your family, and the environment at a lot of risk.