NATE Tests Offer Growth

I went to the NATE website and downloaded the five sets of sample exam questions for the set of service tests. NATE claims that if you can pass the sample tests with 70% or better, you are ready to take the real thing.

I had no problem passing all five sample tests. I thought they were well written, yet challenging. I got a few wrong and learned a few things in the process.

I look forward to taking the real thing and know that I will learn more yet from the testing process. I encourage all who read this to go to the NATE site and do the same.

I have been in the HVAC industry for nearly 30 years and have taught full time for 18 years, and I am constantly in the books. Yet, I learned a few things from the tests.

The tests are challenging and challenge promotes growth.

Norm Christopherson, HVAC Service Instructor, Western Washington Sheet Metal Joint Apprenticeship Training Center, Lacey, WA

Get A Hold On Mold

The articles recently about mold have been very interesting. I have an old warm-air system in my home that I had cleaned myself about 10 years ago. It was not really that bad. I change the filters once a month and keep the system sealed very tight. The house is 50 years old and so is the furnace. It still has the original motor and blower. I converted it to Powerpile (pilot stays on year-round, keeps it dry) many years ago and have it set up in the winter on constant-air circulation. I do not bring in outside air, but get all my air for combustion from within the house.

I just had a company come in for free and clean my ducts and check my system. They wanted to use me as an ad for the rest of the neighborhood. I worked with them and found very little of any contaminant and absolutely no mold. (They did an excellent job, and I should know.)

I have three sump pumps that run constantly in my basement; the basement is finished and carpeted. We have been flooded several times. I had them go around and do extensive testing that they typically do not do, which they sent to a local lab. The report came back today. I was surprised that I have absolutely no mold of any kind anywhere. I was really surprised, seeing as I have all this dampness. I talked to a professor friend of mine about this. He said that it is very possible, because when I had the water, I reacted to remove it immediately; we also treated the carpets with disinfectant. Also, I have wood (pine) paneling all over the basement; this instead of drywall may be a little better. I am going to continue to have areas of my home checked.

I also saw an interesting article by Bob Baker from BBJ Chemicals. It sort of parallels your July 8 article [“Is Mold Black Gold?”]. The customers are going to expect techs to have knowledge of these things. I have been harping on this for years, especially with the warm-air guys and A/C techs. My own consulting on problems finds numerous cases of insufficient air in homes.

Tim McElwain, President, Gas Appliance Service Training and Consulting, Riverside, RI

Particulate Circulation

[Editor’s note:This letter is in reference to John R. Hall’s June 17 column, “This Guy Doesn’t Like Forced-Air Systems; What Say You?”]

Erik Knaack has either misquoted or misinterpreted John May’s comment on forced-air circulation. John rightly notes that forced-air systems do circulate allergic particulate. They don’t have to if they are installed with good filters and dirty filter warning systems (all available). However, the existing “as cheap as possible, no matter what the real cost” philosophy of our society and industry does not support the design, installation, and selective sales of good forced-air systems that would provide low particulate exposure.

Existing forced-air systems circulate a great deal of respirable particulate. Good ones would not. Let Erik call for better systems, not misquote John May.

Jim H. White, System Science Associates Ltd., Kemptville, ON, Canada

Publication date: 08/12/2002