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NATE Certification for Gas

Jim Davis_3
Jim Davis_3 Member Posts: 578
There is little or nothing on the NATE heating certification that will help in any way with CO or Combustion testing and really very little on safe operation of equipment. In a recent meeting they stated they meerly are concerned with the national standards rather than actual best field practices. Because NATE does not do training, 100% of their testing is based on written standards written by non-field experienced persons. I do believe their certification has good credibility but combustion testing and carbon monoxide testing seem to be treated like the plague as is common by most of the industry. Too much liability. Someday just keeping equipment running will be upgraded to running safe and efficient. And if all you do is follow standards it ain't going to happen!!


  • How many are NATE


    A recent article in GAMAzine a publication about Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association and it members stated the following:

    "Another big concern is carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is formed when carbon-based fuels - such as kerosene, gasoline, propane. natural gas; oil, charcoal, or wood - are burned with inadequate amounts of oxygen, creating a condition known as incomplete combustion. In the case of home gas appliances, this can be caused by improper installation, poor maintenance, or other appliance misuse or failure. When incomplete combustion occurs in a home's gas appliances, CO is produced, and this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

    The bottom line is this: A qualified and licensed technician is needed. The Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA) recommends to consumers that they seek a tech certified by the North American Technician Excellence (NATE), someone who is trained to recognize and correct problems when servicing a home's gas appliances."

    "Most consumers know very little about HVAC," said Carl Smith, director of marketing and public relations for NATE. By saying you are knowledgeable and you can prove it, then you are a known quantity. Certified means you know all about heating and air conditioning. At least there is this third-party verification of your knowledge. 1t gives you more validity. It is a reassurance to the consumer that you are knowledgeable and you will not take advantage of the consumer."

    The article goes on to say that seeing a "blue Flame" indicates an appliance is operating correctly. This is mis leading to say the least as you can have a "blue flame" and be making CO.

    I find it somewhat mis-leading to state that only NATE certified personnel should work on gas equipment.

    Maybe I am just a little prejudiced but many of the best gas and combustion techs I know are not NATE certified. Not that there is anything wrong with NATE certification.

    I am interested in other opinions.
  • Mitch_6
    Mitch_6 Member Posts: 549
    Certified to work on gas equipment

    I am not NATE certified and have only recently heard of it.

    I am however a Licensed Master and Journeyman Plumber (plumbers are considered "allowed" to do gas fitting, but not actually licensed gas fitters) and Oil burner technician in Massachusetts.

    What I find totally scary is they teach nothing to do with co., combustion or how to check for proper venting other than fresh air calculations, vent size charts and holding a match to the vent hood to check draft.

    Oil school is a little better they teach hands on how to use a draft gage and check "co2" that's it.

    Mitch S.

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  • Glen
    Glen Member Posts: 855

    Tim - would this apply to both sides of the 49th? Here in Canada - gas safety is a territorial condition, eg. each province adopts the CSA 149 code with their own "directives" and inspection services. So in essence - our trade qualifications are interprovincial but gas tickets are not, although in the last few weeks B.C. and Alberta have had some discussions re a harmonized ticket. Mainly to supply the enormous need for qualified workers in the oil industry in Alberta. Does NATE have a website?
  • For those of us who hope

    the manufacturers would all someday(some do) come on board with real world testing and procedures this is very discouraging. Other parts of the same magazine address in addition to annual maintenance, tight homes and combustion. The article is very vague and does not really address the issues it does touch on depressurization but not fully.

    They also have an article called "Leading the Way in Carbon Monoxide Awareness, Action" They state "The industry and researchers have come to an agreement that 30 PPM is not a health problem unless it persists for hours. The industry agreed on a 70 PPM threshold at 60 - 240 minutes, 150 PPM at 10 - 50 minutes and 400 PPM at 4 - 15 minutes. These standards have eliminated most of the false alarms and allowed customers to rely on detectors, rather than disregard (the) alarms"

    They would never know if they did have persistant 30 PPM up to 69 PPM because no alarm would sound.

    These are the manufacturers of equipment, when are they going to get their heads out of the sand.
  • Glen the NATE

    web site is www.natex.org, I am not sure if there certification is accepted in Canada. GAMA however is definetly involved on both sides of the border.
  • Ranger
    Ranger Member Posts: 210
    Jim,I strongly disaggree

    "100% of there testing is based on written standards written by non-field experienced persons" I sir take issue with that statement.I have over 24 years HVACR experience.I have been an RSES member since 1986 and a certificate member since 1988.I have 4 years military experience,10 years commercial/industrial service experience,one year as a union electrician & 9 years supply house experience as a tech.service rep.I was part of the chapter that happily hosted one of Dan's very first hydronic's seminar's way back in 1990. I was asked to particapate in the origional drafting of the hydronics tests in June of 2005.I was in awe of the amount of talented persons the filled the room from all over the U.S..I would guess without hesitation that there was over 1000 years experience there alone.And the process of getting just one question into a test is brutal.You Sir have no idea about that process.I do not agree with all of the NATE proceedures but that is how I got involved with Pat Murphy in the first place.Besides,NATE is relatively new and there is much room for improvement.All the people I met thru NATE are as passionate about this industry as anyone here on the wall (and some of them actually are here also).Pat is consistantly looking for input as to how to improve NATE.May I suggest you start there,as I have also done.
    Ranger Novrit CM
  • Jim Davis_3
    Jim Davis_3 Member Posts: 578

    I didn't say the NATE test was written by non-field personnel, but the standards and codes that they conform to on the tests were. I have no problem with what NATE is doing and I know Pat and many of their people. We participate in NATE and support them. My point being is that if you are NATE certified for heating, to follow all listed standards, will you be able to make a furnace run more efficient and safer as Timmie has stated from the current GAMA magazine? The answer is NO!! You will just be able to possibly fix it faster when it is broke and assure the people they will die warm. I do believe someone that is CO/Combustion Certified would be much more qualified on these issues. I have not seen the current GAMA magazine as Timmie has commented but it is on the way.

    Anyone that knows the real story behind the current UL alarm standards would know they were not specifically written to protect people but instead to minimize the inconvience of those who responded to them.
  • Ranger
    Ranger Member Posts: 210

    I stand corrected,I misread the paragraph.And I absolutly agree with what you and Timmy are tring to convey.
  • It seems anytime

    I see information on seasonal checks no one ever mentions the gas oven. Many times the cause of Carbon Monoxide in the home it is the gas oven. Because of its limited use it does not always cause a identifiable problem. Every heating tech gas and oil shoud be at least checking the oven for CO. Check out some info on that in my area on Oiltechtalk.com
  • Eugene Silberstein
    Eugene Silberstein Member Posts: 1,380

    As a holder of all 10 presently offered NATE certifications, I can safely say that NO TEST, be it offered by NATE or any other testing organization, can cover everything.

    I will contact Carl and Pat over at NATE tomorrow and maybe, just maybe, a separate certification devoted strictly to combustion testing and analysis may be worth looking into.

    Your thoughts?
  • Eugene

    Eugene I congratulate you on holding all 10 certifications, I am not surprised.

    My concern is with GAMA seeming to infer that the only people that should be servicing gas equipment are those NATE certified. I have thousands of people I have trained who are more than qualified to service gas equipment who do not hold NATE certification. What about some of the utilities that still have highly trained gas techs that are more than qualified to service equipment.

    I agree with you that no test can fully determine qualification or certification, which is why I find them (certifications) of no real consequence. I find the same problem with licenses and lack of expertise even though techs hold licenses.

    I often meet people with a gas expert chevron on their sleeve. I like to ask them some basic gas questions that any tech should be able to answer. Most of the time they cannot answer the questions. This causes me concern as to the validity of testing relative to gas. I cannot question other certifications, as I do not feel qualified to do so.

    It would perhaps be a good idea to include combustion testing as another criteria. I am not sure however those manufacturers would agree with my approach to solving gas combustion problems. I am sure the NATE people do not even know who I am, let alone most of the manufacturers. That would certainly bring into question my credibility with them.

    Maybe Jim Davis could work with them, as I am sure they know Jim.
  • Eugene Silberstein
    Eugene Silberstein Member Posts: 1,380
    That Seems To Be...

    For GAMA, or any other organization, to state that the only people that should be permitted to service gas equipment are those certified by NATE is a BIG mistake, as you mentioned.

    Although NATE is gaining popularity, it still has a long way to go.

    My Pressure Enthalpy without Tears seminar is NATE recognized and many people still ask me what that is when they read it in my brochures.

    Although I am a big proponent of certification, I definitely agree with you and many others when you mention that there are many qualified technicians out there who are not certified by an outside, third party.

    And don't worry Tim.... We know who you are!
  • Gary Reecher
    Gary Reecher Member Posts: 111

    Have only been able to go through parts of the new GAMAzine since it arrived. Very busy week with this heat wave. But did read that in one Canadian province they require that technicians test boiler flue co production regardless of why they went on the dispatch or whether the owner requests the check or not. Can see where this is going to get interesting if they get called on an air conditioning service call. "Sir/Ms I know I was called on your no cooling problem, but by law I must test your boiler for CO production."
  • Wayco Wayne_2
    Wayco Wayne_2 Member Posts: 2,479
    I was

    able to take the relatively new NATE Hydronics test for certification. It wasn't bad. My impression was it needed some tweaking but it tried to be comprehensive. I sent in a few comments and suggestions. When I got back my grades I was impressed by how illuminating they were. I was broken down into categories so you could see your strong points and less strong areas. I considered them to be accurate in my own case. My strong category was design and code. Well duh! I've been strong in that for a long time. Less so on maintenance. (Dont't bother me with maintenance, I'm busy doing design. :). This is my only window on the NATE exams but if the other areas of testing are similar I think it is a good thing and can be a good tool for employers to know to a degree what they got in the hiring process. WW

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