All You Need to Know About EPA Section 608 Certification

Those who are looking forward to becoming an HVAC tech have to get a certification from the Environmental Protection Agency.

It is Section 608 Certification which proves you can safely handle the refrigerants.

Misuse or incorrect identification of refrigerants can be damaging to the HVAC equipment.

More importantly, it can cause an injury or even be lethal.

Besides, it can be harmful to the environment.

Here we gathered useful information about an EPA 608 certification.

You’ll find out what it is, what you need to learn to pass the examination, concepts, and procedures.

Read on to get more details about the EPA Section 608 certification exam.

Obtaining an EPA Certification should be one of your primary goals.

What’s more important is having a solid understanding of refrigerants and their usage to get a good knowledge base.

The refrigeration cycle is the core of the HVAC field.

Extensive knowledge of physics is also essential.

This is what can distinct an average HVAC technician from a sought-after expert.

Origins of Refrigerants

The first refrigerant that was widely used was ammonia.

In the mid-1880s, it was adopted for refrigeration of food.

Ammonia was good to absorb heat, but it was highly toxic, which made its use in the house hazardous.

Older versions of the refrigerant we still use today were produced by the 1920s.

The toxicity in them was reduced, which made it possible for in-house use.

So they became a widely used household appliance.

The variations of these refrigerants were later used in the present-day air conditioning and heat pump systems.

In early 1970, scientists found out that these refrigerants can be harmful to the ozone layer.

They started the crusade that led to appearance of what we know today as the Montreal Protocol in the late 1980s.

The Montreal Protocol is a treaty between the UN member-nations to reduce the use of materials considered harmful to the atmosphere.

To comply with the regulations of the Montreal Protocol, the US government passed the Clean Air Act in 1990.

It became a reason for the EPA certification requirement to handle particular types of refrigerants.

Present Day Refrigerants and Regulations

The most used refrigerants in residential HVAC are R22 and R410A.

R22 systems aren’t manufactured anymore, so the use of refrigerant is gradually coming to an end.

Due to certain government regulations, the annual manufacture of R22 significantly reduced. 

Newly-installed systems commonly use R410A which operates at a higher pressure than refrigerant R22.

These little differences are the reason for all HVAC technicians to be trained and certified.

These regulations help prevent damage to the equipment and injuries of the people because of the misuse of refrigerant.

In the industrial sector, the injury and damage risk is even higher due to the higher pressure in the industrial HVAC systems.

So, the EPA regulations require that the techs dealing with maintenance, repair, or disposal of the refrigerants must be certified.

You only need to pass the EPA Certification exam once, and the credentials remain valid for life.

Types of EPA Certification

EPA Certification has four levels of certification and types of allowed work:

  • Type I – service of small appliances.
  • Type II – service and disposal of high-pressure appliances, except MVAC.
  • Type III – service and disposal of low-pressure appliances.
  • Universal – includes all three types.

Core Exam

All types of certification include the Core Section of the exam.

It tests any areas that are relevant to the use of refrigerants.

It is more about the fundamental principles and reasons why this industry is highly regulated.

The Core Section includes the following general topics:

  • Ozone exhaustion.
  • Section 608 regulations.
  • Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol.
  • Substitute refrigerants and oils.
  • Refrigeration.
  • Recovery techniques.
  • The Three R’s (Recover, Recycle, Reclaim).
  • Safety.
  • Shipping.
  • Dehydration evacuation.

Similar to the other sections, the core section comprises 25 questions 18 of which should be answered correctly to pass.

In Type I, you need to get 21 correct answers.

But this examination is available openly.

Type I Certification – Servicing Small Appliances

With Type I certification, you are allowed to service small appliances.

The examination comprises 25 questions open to public access.

They include the following topics:

  • Recovery techniques and requirements.
  • Safety.

To pass Type I certification exam, you have to answer 21 questions out of 25 correctly.

The core section should be also passed.

Only for Type I certification, the Core Section can be taken as an open book exam.

To obtain the certification above Type I, you will have to pass the Core Section again, at a proctored exam.

To successfully prepare for the examination, you need to understand the definition of a small appliance.

You also need to know the evacuation requirements for small appliances.

It includes the use of recovery equipment made before and after November 15, 1993.

You also need to be familiar with appliance evacuation requirements with and without operating compressors.

To identify the refrigerant you’re working with, you need to focus on the pressure and temperature.

You also need to know the recovery methods.

Understanding of how to put in high and low side access valves while recovering refrigerant from small appliances with non-working compressors is also essential.

You should understand operational compressors, decomposition products of refrigerants, and solderless access fittings.

Type II Certification – Services High-Pressure Appliances

Type II Certification enables you to service and dispose of high-pressure appliances.

It doesn’t include motor vehicle AC and small appliances.

The primary topics of the examination include:

  • Leak detection and repair requirements.
  • Recovery techniques and requirements.
  • Refrigeration.
  • Safety.

Type II exam focuses mainly on leak detection.

You should be aware of proper identification of the leakage signs.

You should also know how to conduct a leak test before the equipment is charged.

You should also be aware of the commercial and industrial process of refrigeration leak rate per year.

It also applies to appliances with more than fifty pounds of refrigerant.

Additional topics you need to study for the Type II exam include recovery requirements and techniques.

Cooling off the recovery vessel to speed up the recovery is an essential matter you should know.

You should also focus on recovery requirements when it comes to disposal, repair, and leakage of high-pressure appliances.

Of course, you need to know the components of high-pressure appliances where the refrigerant is placed to pass the Type II exam.

You also have to be able to carry out the pressure-temperature testing.

Type II exam comprises 25 questions with 25 core section questions additionally.

Type III Certification – Servicing of Low-Pressure Appliances

Type III Certification enables you to service and dispose of low-pressure appliances.

The topics covered in the Type III examination are similar to Type II:

  • Leak detection and repair requirements.
  • Recovery techniques and requirements.
  • Refrigeration.
  • Safety.

The Type II and III exams are similar with the difference that Type III focuses on low-pressure appliances.

While the terms are identical, the operation of low-pressure systems differs greatly.

They work in a vacuum.

Leakage and leak test methods are the main focus area of this exam.

You have to be able to determine the leakage signs and leak test pressure of the centrifugal chillers.

The test also includes identification and repair of leakage, liquid and vapor recovery.

You have to be familiar with recharging techniques.

For example, application of vapor before liquid to avoid freezing.

You should identify evacuation requirements, understand the concepts of major repair, pressurize low-pressure systems.

One more area of study for the Type III exam is ASHRAE Standard 15.

Similar to Type II, the examination includes 25 questions with 25 core section questions.

Universal Certification

You can obtain a Universal Certification after passing Types I, II, III, and the core section.

That means that you will have to answer 100 questions.

It’s highly recommended going after the Universal Certification as it’s usually more valuable than having just one of the types.

Before taking this test, it’s a good idea to obtain EPA 608 Technician Certification.

It can be acquired from one of the EPA-approved organizations.

They include the HQs that provide the certification.

The examinations can be directed by the certified experts affiliated with these organizations.

Preparation for the EPA Certification Exam

Taking the EPA Section 608 exam is essential for HVAC tech’s career.

So you need to find resources that can help you practice and study for the exam.

There are some practice tests for the four types of the EPA exam you can find online.

They can be a great way to practice.

The example practice tests include all the information you will need to cover before the exam.

What You Should Know About the Certification Process

The EPA 608 Technician Certification includes fees that can vary depending on your methods of HVAC training.

If you are enrolled with an apprenticeship program, you may expect to spend up to $100.

Your mentor can guide you through the exam process.

However, if you only entering the field, you will need to find a training program that includes EPA exam preparation.

Conclusions

An EPA Section 608 certification is an essential step in the HVAC tech career.

You have to be attentive at the exam and read each question and answer carefully to avoid missing anything.

It takes great effort to prepare for the Universal Certification.

But once you earn it, it will be valid all your life.

Having an EPA Universal Certification is your proof of knowledge.

This way, you can show your employers, trainers, and customers that you are serious about becoming successful in the HVAC field.

FAQs

How different are the EPA 608 Certification and EPA Refrigeration Certification?

These terms are synonymous, EPA 608 Certification covers handling refrigerants, so it allows working with both AC and refrigeration systems.

What is the cost of EPA 608 Certification?

The costs for the certification vary based on testing location.

They can be anything from $20 for taking Type I online to $150 for Universal exam in a proctored area.

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