EPA’s Refrigerant Management Program: Questions and Answers for Section 608 Certified Technicians
Is section 608 certification required to service, repair, and install refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment?
Yes. Certification is required for anybody who in the course of maintenance, service, or repair of an appliance could be reasonably expected to violate the integrity of the refrigerant circuit and therefore release refrigerants into the environment.
Is section 608 certification required to dispose of appliances?
Section 608 technician certification is required to dispose of appliances, except for small appliances (an appliance that is fully manufactured, charged, and hermetically sealed in a factory with five pounds or less of refrigerant), motor vehicle air conditioners (MVACs), or MVAC-like appliances.
Can my employer send another person to purchase refrigerant for me?
Yes. You or your employer can send a coworker to purchase refrigerant, or designate somebody else to receive delivery on your behalf. The purchasing account holder is the buyer, and anyone purchasing refrigerant under that account is allowed to conduct the transaction, provided that the account holder can demonstrate they are a certified technician or currently employ a certified technician.
What type of documentation do I need to purchase refrigerant?
Refrigerant sellers must verify that the buyer is a certified technician or currently employs a certified technician. Documentation such as a copy of a technician certification card, a technician certificate issued by the certification program, or documentation that demonstrates that the buyer currently employs a certified technician (if the buyer is an employer) is acceptable.
What should I do if I believe that someone is using my technician certification card to purchase refrigerant without my permission?
If you believe someone is using your technician certification card to purchase refrigerant without your permission, contact your refrigerant supplier and let them know that this person is not your employer or employee, and is not purchasing refrigerant for your use. You can also report possible violations to EPA.
Can I sell used refrigerant that I recover from customers’ appliances?
No. Before used refrigerant can be sold it must be reclaimed by an EPA certified reclaimer. Depending on the type of refrigerant and the level of contamination, EPA certified reclaimers and some distributors may offer money for it.
However, you may charge used refrigerant that you recovered from an appliance into another appliance owned by the same customer.
Am I required to keep a copy of my certification?
Yes. As a section 608 certified technician who installs, services, and/or disposes of appliances, you are required to keep a copy of your certification at your place of business and keep it until three years after you are no longer operating as a technician.
Do I need to carry my certification card with me when I am performing refrigerant work?
No. EPA does not require you to carry your certification card with you when servicing appliances, although some customers may inquire about whether you have proof of certification. You may want to consider keeping a picture of your certification on your phone in case asked by a customer.
Is a section 608 certification required to pull the “heel” or residue out of an empty cylinders of refrigerant?
No. Cylinders that store or transport bulk refrigerant are not considered appliances.
Can I use my certification card to purchase refrigerant for a person that is not certified?
No. It is a violation of EPA’s regulations to sell, distribute, or offer for sale or distribution a refrigerant for use in an appliance, unless the recipient is, or employs, a certified technician.
Questions on Servicing Appliances with 50 or More Pounds of Ozone-Depleting Refrigerant:
What is the difference between a leak inspection, an initial verification test, and a follow-up verification test?
A leak inspection is the examination of an appliance to determine the location of refrigerant leaks. Methods include ultrasonic tests, gas-imaging cameras, bubble tests, or the use of a leak detection device operated and maintained according to manufacturer guidelines. Methods that determine whether the appliance is leaking - but do not determine the location of a leak - such as standing pressure/vacuum decay tests, sight glass checks, viewing receiver levels, pressure checks, and charging charts are not leak inspections, and must be used in conjunction with methods that can determine the location of a leak.
An initial verification test is a check to make sure that repairs were successful before refrigerant is added back into the appliance. This test is performed after the leak has been located and repairs are made, but typically before the appliance (or isolated section) has been recharged and returned to normal operating conditions.
A follow-up verification test is done within 30 days of the appliance's returning to normal operating characteristics and conditions, except in cases where sound professional judgment dictates that these tests will be more meaningful if performed prior to the return to normal operating characteristics and conditions.
Leak inspections, initial verification tests, and follow-up verification tests are only required when an appliance with 50 or more pounds of ozone-depleting refrigerant exceeds the threshold leak rate. They are not required for smaller appliances, or appliances that do not leak above the threshold rate, or appliances containing substitute refrigerant, such as HFCs.
What information am I, as certified technician, required to provide to customers?
If you are servicing appliances normally containing 50 or more pounds of ozone-depleting refrigerant, you must provide the customer an invoice or other documentation showing the amount of refrigerant added to the appliance.
When you conduct leak inspections on appliances that contain 50 or more pounds of ozone-depleting refrigerant, you must provide the customer with documentation that includes the date of inspection; the method(s) used to conduct the leak inspection; a list of the location(s) of each leak that was identified; and a certification that all visible and accessible parts of the appliance were inspected.
When you conduct initial or follow-up verification tests on appliances that contain 50 or more pounds of ozone-depleting refrigerant, you must provide the customer documentation of the dates and results of all initial and follow-up verification tests. The records must include the location of the appliance; the date(s) of the verification tests; the location(s) of all repaired leaks that were tested; the type(s) of verification test(s) used; and the results of those tests.
While technicians are not regulatorily required to provide other records, such as the full charge of the appliance, and the results of leak rate calculations, your customers are required to maintain that information for appliances that contain 50 or more pounds of ozone-depleting refrigerant. Owners and operators of AC and refrigeration equipment may contract technicians to perform these services. You should consider having an upfront conversation with your clients about whether they expect you to provide any additional records.
Learn more about the other reporting and recordkeeping requirements under the refrigerant management regulations.
Questions on Servicing Appliances with 5 to 50 or More Pounds of Ozone-Depleting and Substitute Refrigerant:
What records am I required to keep?
Technicians who dispose of mid-sized appliances with 5-50 pounds of refrigerant (for example, residential split systems), must keep records of:
· The location, date of recovery, and type of refrigerant recovered for each disposed appliance;
· The quantity of refrigerant, by type, recovered from disposed appliances in each calendar month; and
· The quantity of refrigerant, and type, transferred for reclamation or destruction, the person to whom it was transferred, and the date of the transfer.
Can my employer keep the records for me?
Yes. While it is the technician’s responsibility to ensure that records are kept, the technician’s employer can keep records for their employees.
Is there a required format for the records on refrigerant recovered from mid-sized appliances prior to disposal?
No. These records may be kept in the format most convenient for the technician. They may be kept electronically or as paper records. Records must be kept for three years.
Is technician certification required to install an R-410A mini-split?
Yes. Adding or removing refrigerant from a mini-split as part of installation, and/or connecting or disconnecting hoses or pre-charged lines requires a section 608 technician certification. Activities reasonably expected to violate the integrity of the refrigerant circuit include but are not limited to: Attaching or detaching hoses and gauges to and from the appliance; adding or removing refrigerant; adding or removing components; and cutting the refrigerant line.
Questions on Becoming a Certified Technician:
Can students in refrigeration or air conditioning courses perform work on appliances in a classroom or school laboratory prior to obtaining certification?
Yes. Performing laboratory course work prior to certification is allowed. However, training performed on the job, and training that is not part of formal, course-driven laboratory work is considered maintenance, service, repair or disposal, and requires an individual to be certified, or to be a registered apprentice. Apprentices must be closely and continually supervised by a certified technician.
Can apprentices work on appliances prior to obtaining certification?
Apprentices can work on appliances prior to certification if they are closely and continuously supervised by a technician that has the appropriate section 608 certification(s) for the type of appliance that is being serviced. To qualify as an apprentice, you must be currently registered as an apprentice in maintenance, service, repair, or disposal of appliances with the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Apprenticeship (or a State Apprenticeship Council recognized by the Office of Apprenticeship). A person may only be an apprentice for two years from the date of first registering with that office.
Does EPA require an "R-410A Certification”?
EPA requires a section 608 certification regardless of refrigerant type based on the type of appliance (Type I, Type II, Type III, or Universal). However, EPA does not have a certification that is exclusively focused on R-410A. Because R-410A differs from R-22 in several respects, including operating pressure, some trade schools offered classes and certifications for R-410A specifically. These are not equivalent to a section 608 certification.
How do I get a replacement certification card?
Contact the company that certified you. The company’s name is on the certification card. Their contact information is on our website: https://www.epa.gov/section608/section-608-technician-certification-programs
I lost my card and don’t remember who certified me.
If you cannot remember the name of the organization, try to find a certificate, plaque, receipt, cancelled check, credit card record, study materials, test scores, resume, job application, or document with the name of the organization or a copy of the card on it. Other ways to identify which company certified you include:
- If your state environmental and/or licensing authorities require that you register or document your certification, they might have a copy of your card or a record of the name of the certification organization.
- Check with a present or former refrigerant supplier to see if they have a copy of your card or a notation with the name of the certifying organization.
- Check with a present or past employer to see if they have a copy of your card or a notation with the name of the organization.
- If you are in contact with anyone who took the test with you, ask them to examine their card for the name of the organization.
- If you were certified through a former employer and they still employ anyone who took the test around the same time as you, ask them to inquire with one or more of those individuals concerning the organization name on their certification card.
- Check with the business, institution, or organization where you took the examination to ask them which company's test they used when you were certified.
You can also call some of the major organizations to see if they have a record of your certification. Among the largest programs are ESCO Institute, Ferris State University, Mainstream Engineering Corporation, Refrigeration Environmental Protection Association (REPA), Refrigeration Service Engineers Society, Universal Technical Institute, and Video General, Inc. (VGI).
I lost my card and the certification company is out of business.
If you have any documentation of your certification (see the complete list in the previous question) you can submit it for review to one of the presently approved testing and certification organizations that have agreed to issue replacement cards.
The organizations that issue replacement cards are ESCO Institute, Ferris State University, and Refrigeration Environmental Protection Association (REPA). Their contact information is available in the fact sheet on lost cards at https://www.epa.gov/section608/steps-replacing-lost-section-608-technician-certification-card. Their information is also on the list of approved Section 608 programs available at https://www.epa.gov/section608/section-608-technician-certification-programs. If you have no documentation of your certification, you will need to make arrangements with an approved Section 608 program to retake the exam in order to receive a valid card.
How can I find out where to take the test?
An alphabetical list of EPA approved Section 608 testing and certification organizations, with contact information for each organization, is available at https://www.epa.gov/section608/section-608-technician-certification-programs. The addresses and telephone numbers on this list are for the program headquarters. However, many of these programs have test locations/testing arrangements throughout the United States. Several of the entries on our list also have a link to their program website. These websites sometimes have information concerning test dates and locations. You may also look for entries on our list with the notation "locations nationwide" to the right of the program name. In addition, some organizations allow for online testing. Look for “remote testing available” to the right of the program name. Some organizations also indicate to the right of their entry the levels for which they test.
How do I retrieve my test scores?
The EPA does not administer the tests, and we do not issue test results or certification cards. The tests are administered by EPA approved Section 608 testing and certification organizations and their proctors. You should contact the business, organization, or institution where you took the exam to ask them which program’s test they used for your exam. Once you know the name of the testing organization, contact the organization directly to let them know that you did not receive your scores. An alphabetical list of approved Section 608 organizations, with contact information for each organization, is available at https://www.epa.gov/section608/section-608-technician-certification-programs. The testing organization can investigate the matter further.
Please also note that regulations allow testing organizations up to 30 days from the date of the test to issue test results and certification cards.
Does EPA have a database of certified technicians?
The EPA does not maintain a database of all certified technicians. Testing organizations keep track of who they certify. Since 2017, non-federal programs are also required to post a list of individuals they certify on their program website.
Does EPA have study guides for the technician certification exam?
The EPA does not provide a study guide. Some of the test topics that you might expect to encounter for each level of Section 608 certification are also available for review on our website at https://www.epa.gov/section608/section-608-technician-certification-test-topics. You may also find it useful to review information on our website for "Stationary Refrigeration" at https://www.epa.gov/section608 to get a summary of regulatory updates.
Some testing organizations also have study guides for sale. A number of programs have guides specifically geared to individuals who have not taken the exam in a long time. There are also free practice questions and study guides on some of the websites.
How do I receive a Universal certification?
In order to receive Universal certification, an individual must pass the examinations at all levels for stationary refrigeration and cooling equipment under closed book, secure, proctored conditions through an EPA approved Section 608 testing and certification organization
How do I become an exam proctor?
If you wish to test individuals, you may contact any of the EPA approved Section 608 testing and certification organizations to become a proctor. Proctors may conduct training and may administer the test for approved organizations. However, proctors may not issue certification cards, and do not have all the regulatory responsibilities of an approved organization such as recordkeeping, reporting to the EPA, test compilation, or card replacement. An alphabetical list of approved organizations, with contact information for each organization, is available at https://www.epa.gov/section608/section-608-technician-certification-programs. The addresses and telephone numbers on this list are for the program headquarters. Several of the entries on our list also have links to the program website.
Other Information on the Section 608 Program for Technicians
More information is available on the following topics: