The HVAC industry is immensely extensive, comprised of professionals with ongoing training, specializing in heat, air and/or refrigeration. Many who will pursue this line of work will focus on definite areas; however their training also requires aspects of the industry as a whole. A well-rounded foundation in all facets of air conditioning, heating, and ventilation enables any HVAC professional, no matter their specialty, to always better carry out their significant duties. Now with all of this discussion of specialization in the HVAC industry, you might possibly be curious about at least one of the areas of focus, so let’s dive into refrigeration this time around. I’ll cover what the refrigeration specialty is, necessary skills and common duties associated with it for success.
Refrigeration technicians and mechanics in the HVAC industry are the professionals who will create and maintain a climate-controlled environment in terms of temperature, air quality and humidity, in a variety of buildings, including homes, high-rise offices, factories, hospitals and shops. These professionals may sometimes be required to put together and install HVAC and refrigeration equipment as well as repair and maintain it in domestic, commercial or industrial settings. In addition to large air conditioning units, the everyday machinery that a refrigeration specialist will deal with may also include evaporators, condensing units, and compressors.
Proper construction and maintenance of refrigeration systems is paramount, as these are required for our safety regarding the storage of perishables, such as medicine and food. In their day-to-day endeavors, refrigeration technicians and mechanics not only maintain systems but also strictly adhere to government standards in performing all that they do. That’s because the EPA has very stringent requirements for the refrigeration industry as a whole, as refrigerants that are often used are dangerous and toxic chemicals. Therefore, refrigeration specialists follow rules regarding and are officially certified in handling, disposal, conservation, recycling and recovery of refrigerant fluids.
Refrigeration technicians and mechanics alike have a wide array of responsibilities that have a necessary hand to the overall functioning of refrigeration systems. Such professionals will oversee systems from start to finish, beginning with building various components with tools and welding equipment. Through the entire process, these technicians will connect electrical components and refrigeration lines throughout the system.
When problems first arise in a building’s refrigeration or AC systems, or routine maintenance is simply required, refrigeration specialists are entrusted with providing the essential solutions. HVAC refrigeration technicians quickly assess system functioning, working on the problems as they emerge, such as mechanical issues. General maintenance may sometimes include looking for and fixing equipment leaks, or maintaining compressors in cooling machines and refrigerant reclaiming (processing used refrigerant gas so that it may be recycled). In performing these and comparable tasks, refrigeration specialists must also completely understand the components and materials that they’re working with, so they will often rely on blueprints to determine the type, physical size and capacity of a new construction or repair of your home’s refrigeration system parts.
As a homeowner, when hiring a technician to work on your heating, ventilation and cooling system is a job you will most likely have to take part in at some point. There’s a great deal of inherent danger involved with HVAC equipment and a great deal can go wrong, so it’s critical to only hire a licensed HVAC technician for work around the home.
A license will provide verification that the technician has been professionally trained. Each state will have different licensing requirements, so always check with your state’s professional licensing department to confirm the status of a license.
The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification is a nationally recognized and esteemed certification for HVAC and refrigeration technicians. The HVAC certification is not legally required to become a technician, however it is widely recognized in the field and will validate a technician’s knowledge. In order to gain this certification, technicians must pass a knowledge-based test. This certification can be earned in one or more specialty areas, including air distribution, air conditioning, and gas furnaces.
The HVAC Excellence certification is another notable HVAC industry certification. HVAC technician certifications will include the professional and master specialist levels. To earn the professional-level credential, a contractor must first have two years of field experience and pass a comprehensive examination in specialty areas, such as heat pump service and residential air conditioning.
Contractors who successfully pass their exams will receive a chevron for a certain certification area, HVAC Excellence patch and wall certificate. The master specialist credential requires the contractor to have at least 3 years of verifiable field experience as well as a passing score on the HVAC Excellence professional-level exam.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now requires all technicians with access to a container or system that stores refrigerant, including A/C coolant such as R-410A or R-22, to have the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 608 certification. HVAC technicians cannot legally buy refrigerants without this qualification. There are three types of certifications available, and contractors must pass a written examin to obtain this credential.
First level of this HVAC certification will allow the technician to handle small appliances containing less than 5 pounds of refrigerant. Window air conditioning units are an example of these. The second certification allows technicians to handle products containing high pressure refrigerants. Finally the type-three certification allows a technician to handle products containing low-pressure refrigerants.