EPA Certification – What It Is, How To Get It

epa certification

EPA Universal Card

One of the most important licenses you can get to make yourself more valuable and marketable as a building engineer is an EPA certification. There are different types or classes of being EPA certified but the highest level, or most desired by employers, is generally the EPA universal certification.

If you have no idea what I am talking about or are even thinking, what the heck is an EPA certification, don’t worry. I’ll try to make this as basic as possible to follow. Being a building engineer requires to you to have some knowledge in several areas. You may be stronger in some, like me and plumbing for example, and weaker in others, like this topic, for me.

When you hear the acronym EPA, you should automatically think Environmental Protection Agency. Let’s just say they govern a lot of things related to our environment. They don’t want it damaged or polluted by people or companies.

When you hear EPA certification, or universal certification, you should think refrigeration – chillers, gases, refrigerants. It turns out that some of the products us humans have used can damage the environment. Who would have thought? Ha ha. For example, some of the refrigerants used in your car a/c unit, home, or the chillers at your work, when released to the atmosphere, can damage the ozone layer. We may get deeper into how all of this happens in another post but for here we are keeping it basic.

To protect the environment, the EPA set up a certification program that requires people that work on refrigerant systems or handle gases have some type or class of EPA license to do so. Having a certain class allows to perform work in that class like small appliances while having a universal certification allows you to work on all of the classes. They are referred to as types by the EPA though. I like using classes.

Along with some form of steam operator license, I would say the EPA universal certification are the two most important licenses a building engineer or facility operator should have in their hot little hands. Read more

How a Fridge Works

how a fridge works

One of the staple books for understanding refrigeration.

Your refrigerator gets taken for granted, admit it. It’s always on, it controls itself. Cycles refrigeration when it needs to, and turns itself off when the temperature is satisfied. Have you seen the recent Maytag commercial featuring the fridge? It is basically the only appliance in your kitchen that is constantly on.

Have you ever wondered what goes on inside there? Behind the insulated walls of plastic laminate. What does the curly thing on the back do? That’s the condenser. If you have ever wanted to know how a fridge works, this post should help you understand the awesome basics of refrigeration, heat, and energy. I am counting on you to connect those dots. Read more

The Basic 4 Step Refrigeration Cycle

Let’s keep going with the topic of refrigeration since you may have to work on refrigeration equipment on the job or maybe you want to do some repairs at home. For this post we are going to try and provide some answers for yet another one of those questions that they try to trip you up with (which means stuff like this should be standard knowledge for us.) The question is usually “draw and explain the basic 4 step refrigeration cycle.”

You might get asked this during a facility maintenance job interview, a qualification board, or by your spouse when the house is 105F mid-summer.

The basic drawing was created by me, Steven Van Gogh using Microsoft Paint as the medium. If your boss asks you to sketch the basic refrigeration cycle, this is what you should draw. Learn it, copy it, love it. Read more

Refrigeration – The Start

basic refrigeratiob

A basic chiller plant

If a building engineer were tasked to sit down and list all of the systems he operates and maintains, he’d be there for seconds if not minutes.  Nah, he could be there for days.  When we get down to it though, the nitt-ay gritt-ay of building engineering, there would only be a few vital, critical systems that we all should know the fundamentals of.

And that would be refrigeration.

From building engineers, to landlords, to homeowners, it would probably help you out a little by knowing at least the basics of refrigeration.  Things like the definition of refrigeration, sensible and latent heats which always confused the beejeezus out of me.

By us at least having a handle on the fundamentals of refrigeration, cooling, heating, you’ll know in your car if your air conditioning is working properly.  You’ll know at home if the repairman is telling you big fat lies when he tries to bill you for your window unit.

Do I have to point out that when you hear the term HVAC, the ac on the end is for air conditioning?  And refrigeration.  Which is why we are discussing it here. Read more