Many people with an HVAC problem want a quick fix for their problem, and they pay too little attention to where this help comes from. This is a mistake; like any industry, there are good and bad technicians in the HVAC business. So, if you want some reassurance that you will get great technical service what should you look out for? What you need is a NATE-Certified technician, and in this article, we will explain what this means in more detail.
What is NATE?
North American Technician Excellence (NATE) is the largest non-profit organization in the nation for HVAC/R technicians. NATE is a well respected certification organization that has been acknowledged by the heating, air conditioning and ventilation industry for almost 20 years. Not every technician is NATE-Certified, this certification is discretionary, and there are technicians working on heating, cooling, ventilation and refrigeration systems without NATE certification. But, choosing to use a NATE-Certified technician is an advantage that homeowners should look for when they want someone to work on expensive equipment in their homes.
When you have a NATE-Certified technician working on your equipment what’s the difference compared to a regular HVAC technician? In order to meet the required standards, NATE-Certified technicians have to pass exams that will verify that they have a working knowledge of how HVAC and refrigeration systems work in the real world. Assessments are carried out to ensure that the technician understands all the required guidelines for their field.
Many organizations and companies take the time to provide training for their staff. But, NATE goes further by testing their applicants on HVAC systems and their working knowledge of them. There are written tests that have been developed by HVAC industry experts, and these must be passed to achieve certification. These tests are designed to test the applicant in many areas of the HVAC/R industry, such as air conditioning, gas furnaces, oil furnaces, heat pumps, and air distribution. There are other specialty tests related to refrigeration and hydronics for those seeking those services from other companies.
A technician must be certified in installation and/or servicing to provide those services to an acceptable standard. If the test is passed, the technician will have proved that they can apply their knowledge to these areas of the heating and cooling industry. This is not a quick process, in many cases, NATE certification can take as long as five years to achieve. If the certification is lost, the applicant needs to retake the test or complete the required 60 hours of continuing education. This system ensures that NATE-Certified technicians will keep up to date with the latest advances in the HVAC/R industry. It also ensures that the consumer is protected, a technician cannot take a NATE test once, pass it and then keep that certification in perpetuity without regularly updating their knowledge and skills to stay relevant.
As your local HVAC company, we will focus on the HVAC side of the NATE certification process, but technicians can gain NATE-Certification in a number of areas:
- Installation and Servicing Air Conditioning
- Installation and Servicing Air Distribution
- Installation and Servicing Gas Heating
- Installation and Servicing Oil Heating
- Installation and Servicing Heat Pumps
- Servicing Hydronic Gas Systems
- Servicing Hydronics Oil Systems
- Servicing Light Commercial Refrigeration Systems
- Servicing Commercial Refrigeration Systems
- Installation of Ground Source Heat Pump Loop
- A Senior HVAC Efficiency Analyst
When you hire a technician with NATE certification, you can be assured that you will be hiring a professional with the knowledge and skills to work on your equipment. Your HVAC system represents a significant investment, and it makes sense to use the best technicians to work on it.
Choosing a NATE-Certified Technician
Always look for an HVAC company that prominently displays their NATE certification credentials. This should be on the company website and all their literature to ensure that prospective clients understand that their technicians are well trained and experienced. NATE is operated, owned and supported by the HVAC/R industry and participation in the program is voluntary. So, an HVAC company that’s taken the time to adhere to NATE guidelines and train their technicians to be NATE-Certified is making a statement. This HVAC company is choosing to go the extra mile to ensure that their technicians can provide a better installation, repair and servicing experience for their clients.
Will a NATE-Certified Technician Fix Your Problem?
If you need to get your air conditioning fixed or a new furnace installed, it’s essential to get it done right the first time. Having HVAC equipment installed incorrectly is frustrating, you want to use the system now, and yet you need to get the technician back a second time to get it working correctly. Sometimes, the equipment may work fine, only to fail a few weeks later and you’re left with a lack of indoor comfort when you need it most. Both of these situations are inconvenient, but they are less likely if you choose a NATE-Certified technician for the installation. Of course, there could always be a potential problem when a new system is installed, but many of those sillier errors can be avoided if you get the best HVAC technician.
Every company claims that they have the best technicians, but without NATE certification how can you check accurately? As we showed earlier, it isn’t easy to get NATE-Certified, and it’s only earned by technicians that can pass the extensive testing. The aim of NATE is to raise the level of skill and knowledge in the HVAC/R industry so that consumers can have a better installation and servicing experience. The educational program at NATE is under constant evaluation by professionals with extensive real world experience. This ensures that the testing procedure is as effective and accurate as it can be to improve the reliability of performance for consumers.
Because participation in NATE is voluntary, a technician has to demonstrate a certain amount of motivation to complete their NATE certification. The technicians that undergo this process are attempting to better themselves and improve their prospects. NATE certification quickly weeds out applicants that don’t show an interest in providing high quality service in the HVAC/R industry.