Monthly Archives: October 2013

I noticed some discussion lately on Linked-In about NATE and what some of the opinions are out there about it. One of the things I read about it was the idea that the organization has become more interested in perpetuating itself than in certifying technicians. This is where my question about jumping the shark comes  from.

The phrase “jumped the shark” was coined when, according to the opinion of some people involved in the production of the TV series Happy Days, the show reached a point where it was more about ratings than it was about telling its story and entertaining viewers. The episode was about the character Fonzie and his proving he was brave by water skiing, and ultimately jumping over a shark in the water. Actually, it was more of a gimmick than it was a story, and so, for many, it is considered a turning point when the production became more about earning revenue from high ratings than staying true to its original intent. And, what has happened to the phrase “jumping the shark” is what usually happens to a newly-coined phrase that came about due to some very specific situation. It is now often used to refer to any situation in which a negative, such as greed, has overcome what is considered to be the original honorable intent of an organization.

So, my question is, has NATE jumped the shark?

Well, I won’t pretend to know the answer to that question, but there are some things that I do know about the process of technician certification.

I know that even though there may be situations in which every question on a certification exam may not be valid according to everyone working in the field, the exam process itself still speaks to the overall understanding that technicians have in regard to their craft when they achieve a passing score on that exam.

I know that when the certification process works as intended, which is to both increase and measure the overall understanding a technician has about an industry, it results in increased confidence and competency.

I know that when confidence and competency increases, it results in a higher quality of work being performed by persons in their craft.

I know that when a higher quality of work is being performed by persons in their craft, it raises the standards of their industry.

I know that when the standards of an industry are raised, it results in a better end product or service for the consumer.

And I know, as everyone else also knows, that is the honorable intent of any business or industry.

So, like I said, I won’t pretend to know the answer to the question about NATE jumping the shark, and I don’t know that anyone can answer it for certain. All I can say is that if something isn’t perfect, then engaging in a dialogue about it is a good thing because that’s how we get as close as we can to perfect in any honorable effort.

And I know that increasing the confidence and measuring the competence of HVAC technicians is an honorable effort.


Learn From Yesterday….Live For Today…..Look Forward To Tomorrow



The bottom line on the proper and efficient operation of any HVAC system is that the air flow through the duct system has to be correct. If it’s not, then any other segments of the equipment operation such as the refrigeration system, fuel-burning system, or resistance-heat system, simply cannot perform as they are designed. The end result of this imbalance of operation between the equipment segments is poor performance that wastes energy and money, and can even become a safety and health concern for the building occupants.

 What this means is that specific measurements must be accomplished to ensure proper operation of the equipment, and one way to approach this task is to use an in-duct hot wire anemometer and a traverse measurement system in the main supply plenum. A digital device such as the one shown in Figure One that is capable of monitoring air temperature as well as measuring volume and velocity, allows you to enter duct sizing information, and has the capability to average so you can accurately calculate the total air flow, will tell you if there is sufficient air flow overall through the equipment. In a comfort cooling system, this accomplished simply through the process of accurate measurement in a duct, and then comparing the information you obtain to the manufacturer’s standard recommendation of 400 CFM per ton of equipment capacity.

Figure One

Figure One

Determining possible traverse locations for measurement applies to both rectangular ducts and round ducts, a sample of each of which is shown in Figures Two and Three.

Figure Two

Figure Two


Figure Three

Figure Three

With a fundamental understanding of traverse locations, a technician can use available tables and other information to consider the proper procedure for determining traverse air flow testing in a specific situation. As an example, consider the equipment shown in Figure Four where the supply plenum is shown positioned on the air handler cabinet.


Figure Four

Figure Four



For our purposes, we’ll determine that the duct assembly has a width of 24” and, because of that factor, we have chosen five traverse locations in a position on the plenum that is far enough away from the air handler. These five points are the locations for drilling a 3/8” hole in the duct. To accomplish the traverse measurement process, the probe of our anemometer will be inserted slowly through each opening until the tip of the probe touches the inside of the duct on the opposite side from our measurement  position. During each insertion, the anemometer will be set to take a measurement, and those measurements will be averaged to tell the technician what the total air flow measurement is in CFM.

In the event that the air flow is found to be insufficient, steps can be taken to modify the duct system or adjust the fan speed in order to ensure a proper balance between the air flow and refrigeration systems in the equipment.

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