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  1. #1
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    EPA's Revisions to the Section 608 Technician Exam

    There has been a lot of incorrect information floating around about the EPA’s revisions to the Section 608 Technician Certification Exam. I wrote this post to update the current status of the revised exam questions and to provide some guidance as to the time line for the updated training and testing materials.

    Mainstream Engineering Corporation (along with other testing and training organizations) was asked to submit improved questions to the EPA for their consideration. We took this opportunity very seriously, since we believe the old exam questions did not stress good practices, but rather amounted to lots of memorization of dates. We understand that memorizing dates does not properly evaluate the technician’s skills, knowledge of environmentally safe service practices, current regulations or the technician’s legal requirements for recordkeeping.

    We remain extremely grateful the EPA has asked for input from the HVAC/R community. As a manufacturer of QwikProducts, we believe we understand this industry, the training needs and the technology technicians deal with every day.

    In January of 2016, Mainstream submitted our initial questions to Mr. Robert Burchard of the EPA. Our goal was to offer alternate questions for the revised Section 608 EPA exam that tested ability and understanding rather than memorization. We altered the questions in a manner that stressed good safety practices, Clean Air Act rules, and proper service and diagnostic techniques. For example, it is not important to test when virgin CFC-12 became illegal to manufacture and use, only that CFCs are illegal to be manufactured and used.

    In May of 2016, we received our first look at the initial questions submitted by all the various testing organizations. We used this opportunity to provide feedback on these initial questions and suggested revisions to any questions that stressed memorization rather than understanding. Again, our feedback to the EPA was to stress ability and understanding not memorization.

    On March 3, 2017, we received the EPA’s proposed “Final Set of Test Bank Questions” for our last round of comments and suggestions. To quote from that letter from the EPA:
    “thank you again for your contributions to the update of the section 608 test bank. We appreciate your efforts to identify outdated questions and provide replacement questions that reflect the current state of the industry. We have incorporated many of your suggestions and made adjustments in some places”

    On March 6, 2017, we were asked to review some of the questions the EPA had “lingering issues with.” We completed all of our feedback on those “lingering issues” by March 13, 2017. On March 18, 2017, we had further correspondence with the EPA concerning safety related questions in the revised test bank. Suggestions for improvements to those questions were also submitted by Mainstream.

    While we have always been in frequent contact with the EPA; the false lingering rumors (and subsequent concerns) that the “new questions were out” led us to once again confirm this was not true. We contacted the EPA for confirmation that these rumors were completely false. On August 23, 2017, we received another update from the EPA which stated:
    “We [EPA] are still working on the revised test bank. Unfortunately, I cannot provide any clarity about the timing of its release.”

    So, let me summarize the current situation.

    A. In spite of what you have heard, the release date of the revised section 608 questions has not yet been decided by the EPA. They are still working on the revised test bank. New training materials will not be developed until the new questions are finalized.

    B. Once the new questions are finalized, training organizations will have at least 6 months and more likely up to 18 months to develop the new training materials before the exams will be released for use. We only need 6 months, since we are prepositioned for the new questions.

    C. All of our training materials will be ready to go before the new EPA Test Bank questions are released.

    D. We are in constant contact with the EPA and will inform you of the roll out schedule for the new testing and training materials as soon as the EPA makes those dates available.

    I hope this clears up any confusion you may have had about the new EPA exam questions

  2. #2
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    Here is a question.

    The original purpose of both 608 and 609 testing was linked to and driven by the phase out of CFC's. Since they have been illegal and not manufactured for many years now, what is the new stated purpose for these tests? Is it to address what is whimsically referred to as GWP? I say whimsically because of the word "potential," since no impact has been scientifically identified, and any data is being produced by computer models rather than what I was taught to be the "scientific method."

    Basically, why are we still testing when the offending compounds have been nearly eliminated?
    [Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
    2 Tim 3:16-17

    RSES CMS, HVAC Electrical Specialist
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  3. Likes lions_lair, Juan Madera liked this post
  4. #3
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    EPA Section 608 has been and is a complete Joke! It has done nothing.

    What happened to all the R-11, 12, 22 & 502 that has been phased out? Any records being kept by techs, company's? Other country's require record keeping not the US! at least on equipment containing less then 50#'s.

  5. Likes lions_lair liked this post
  6. #4
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    All I have to say is you bring logic and common sense to a manure fest?

    The genius of the United States Constitution - when it frustrates the government, you know it is working.

    RIP Mr. Gizmo; end of watch 10/27/16

    It was a good situation, until everything went wrong!
    Rub some dirt on it and walk it off...
    We will always know it should have worked!

    “Don't believe signature quotes.” - George Washington

  7. #5
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by pecmsg View Post
    EPA Section 608 has been and is a complete Joke! It has done nothing.

    What happened to all the R-11, 12, 22 & 502 that has been phased out? Any records being kept by techs, company's? Other country's require record keeping not the US! at least on equipment containing less then 50#'s.
    NOT TRUE
    Since July, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy has required HVAC contractors in the Southwest and Souteast to maintain records of the air conditioners (split systems, single-package unitary systems, condensing units and air handlers) that they install, and they must keep these records for at least 4 years. This is a DOE ruling, that interestingly does not apply to heat pumps, only straight cool A/C units and components. Where is the logic here?

    Specifically, the contractor must maintain the following records:
    a) Who sold the contractor the unit (name, address, phone number of the supply house)
    b) Date contractor purchased unit from supply house
    c) Model number and serial number
    d) Name of homeowner or building owner where unit was installed
    e) Address of location where unit was installed
    f) Date the unit was installed

    To help contractors out, Mainstream Engineering Corporation, the U.S. manufacturer of the QwikProduct line of HVAC/R parts and supplies, and one of the largest EPA Section 608 training and certification companies, provides this mandatory recordkeeping at no cost to all licensed contractors.

    As part of the services provided to the HVAC/R technician community, Mainstream’s QwikProducts team is offering a free service to maintain all this information on a secure website that is accessible through a contractor’s unique password, and only visible to the contractor that performed the installation. This service and the website is not accessible by the general public; you must be a HVAC/R contractor, and you must have at least one EPA section 608 Type II, Type III or Universal certified technician on staff for the free sign-up. In addition to the free record keeping service, this site has lots of free training courses, such as Flammable Refrigerants, Indoor Air Quality, R-410A, and Preventative Maintenance Technician Training.

    To get free access to all this and more, the QwikProducts team will personally verify you are working in the HVAC/R trade and your company has at least one employee who holds Section 608 Type II, III or Universal certification before you are granted access to these free services. Type I certification is not enough.

    Dr. Scaringe, President of Mainstream, said, “Although this record keeping seems to be an unnecessary government requirement, I recommend that everyone comply. We will maintain these records for you at no charge, and meanwhile, I will continue to argue to remove this requirement.”

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  9. #6
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    ...and why are we still testing when anyone can buy the current refrigerants??????
    [Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
    2 Tim 3:16-17

    RSES CMS, HVAC Electrical Specialist
    Member, IAEI

    AOP Forum Rules:







  10. Likes lions_lair liked this post
  11. #7
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by timebuilder View Post
    ...and why are we still testing when anyone can buy the current refrigerants??????
    That is going to change, after January 1, 2018 only certified EPA 608 or 609 technicians will be able to purchase refrigerant including HFCs. The only exception will be small cans in auto parts stores. However, you are correct, right now anyone can purchase HFC refrigerants.

  12. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by QwikProducts View Post
    That is going to change, after January 1, 2018 only certified EPA 608 or 609 technicians will be able to purchase refrigerant including HFCs. The only exception will be small cans in auto parts stores. However, you are correct, right now anyone can purchase HFC refrigerants.
    1) Who’s policing this?
    2) how does more regulations Change the complete lack of enforcement of previous laws and any new regs!

    608 Is a complete waste and unenforceable

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  14. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcstl View Post
    All I have to say is you bring logic and common sense to a manure fest?
    Were dealing with the E P A

    it is a Manure Fest!

  15. Likes lions_lair liked this post
  16. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by QwikProducts View Post
    That is going to change, after January 1, 2018 only certified EPA 608 or 609 technicians will be able to purchase refrigerant including HFCs. The only exception will be small cans in auto parts stores. However, you are correct, right now anyone can purchase HFC refrigerants.
    That blows my dress up! Lol

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