It used to be that nobody worried about the existence of the ozone layer. Then, scientists learned that man-made chemical refrigerants called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) could eat away at the ozone if they entered the atmosphere. In the 21st century, if you work on or repair equipment that could vent CFCs into the air, you need CFC certification, sometimes called a CFC license.
To get a CFC card, you must pass the EPA certification test for the type of certification you need. Passing the test licenses you to work with CFC refrigerants. After you become certified, your CFC card never expires.
Types of CFC Certification
There are three classes of refrigerant certification. Type I certifies you to work with small appliances that contain less than five pounds of refrigerants: refrigerators, freezers, room air conditioners, packaged terminal heat pumps, dehumidifiers, under-the-counter ice makers, vending machines and drinking water coolers.
Type II certification covers high-pressure appliances that use refrigerants with a relatively low boiling point. Type III covers low-pressure appliances that use refrigerants with a high boiling point. A worker needs certification if they engage in the following tasks:
- Adding refrigerant to the appliance
- Removing refrigerant
- Attaching or detaching hoses and gauges to measure pressure
- Any other activity that violates the integrity of a motor vehicle air conditioner, similar appliance or small appliance except for appliance disposal
Taking the Test
To get your CFC certification, you need to pass the EPA 608 test. The name comes from Section 608 of the Clean Air Act, which includes the ban on releasing Freon and other CFCs into the air.
You can take the Type I licensing test online. To test for Type II and III certification, you must make the trip to an EPA-sanctioned testing center. Many of the centers are community colleges that offer pretest certification training. You can find a list of programs and training centers on the EPA website.
Getting Your CFC Card
Once you have your refrigeration certification, you're licensed for life: Unlike some certifications and licensing, it never expires. The testing organization provides you with a CFC card that verifies you're licensed. If you lose the card, you need to contact the testing organization and ask for a replacement. You may have to pay for it. The North Carolina Refrigeration Board charges $25, for example.
If the organization you use closes but you still have the relevant documentation, the EPA has a list of test organizations online that can issue a replacement card. You can also submit an Assistance with Obtaining a Replacement Card form to the EPA. If none of these steps work, you have to retake the 608 certification test.