When your house feels like an Easy Bake Oven even with the air conditioner running at full speed, it’s time to get some professional help. During your search for a quality HVAC technician, you may stumble upon a NATE icon or a profile of the company mentioning NATE-certified technicians and wonder, “What exactly does that mean?” Well, below we list four things you should know about NATE certification before hiring a technician.

1. NATE started in 1997 to improve the service and installation of HVACR equipment.

North American Technician Excellence, more commonly known as NATE, is a nonprofit organization that develops and administers certification tests that mimic real world working knowledge of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) systems. NATE certifications are highly regarded in the HVACR industry because technicians who can successfully pass a NATE exam demonstrate that they are knowledgeable about installing and servicing HVACR systems.

Before NATE was established, HVACR manufacturers, distributors, and contractors expressed that some technicians lacked the knowledge and experience needed to properly install and service HVACR equipment, which was costing both manufacturers and homeowners unnecessary time and money. Later, NATE was founded to provide a standard examination to certify that technicians were indeed knowledgeable and able to install and service HVACR systems.

2. Individuals can be certified as an installation and/or service technician.

Every technician that applies for NATE certification has to pass a core exam—a test of the candidate’s general knowledge—as well as a specialty exam that covers how to install, service, maintain, and/or repair specific systems. It’s important to know the specifics of your technician’s certification so you can be sure he/she is best suited for your needs. Technicians are only required to be certified in either installation or service, but they may choose to become certified in both.

3. There are ten specialty certifications.

Before hiring a company to service or install your HVAC system, make sure you ask for a NATE-certified technician that specializes in the job you need done. Technicians can choose from the following specialties: air conditioning, air distribution, heat pumps, gas furnaces, oil furnaces, hydronics gas, hydronics oil, light commercial refrigeration, commercial refrigeration, and Senior HVAC Efficiency Analyst.

4. Certified technicians have to recertify every two years.

NATE recently changed its certification period from five years to two to ensure that technicians stay up-to-date with changes to the industry. Technicians with a Ground Source Heat Pump Loop Installer certification recertify every three years.

Using a NATE-certified technician ensures that your installation or service will be performed by a person who is knowledgeable about home comfort systems. Since technicians can specialize in different types of systems and services, specify your exact needs and the system you have before scheduling an appointment in order to get a NATE-certified technician who can help you with your situation.

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Sources: North American Technician Excellence (NATE).

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