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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Professional group warns against hiring of unlicensed air conditioning technicians

Jeremías Santana Castro, president of the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technicians Association

By The Star Staff

While completing the electrical load study for the possible installation of air conditioners in all public schools in Puerto Rico, Jeremías Santana Castro, president of the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technicians Association (CTRA by its Spanish initials), warned Monday about the hiring of personnel without the proper licenses and professional credentials, which could result in the loss of money and guarantees for each installation.

In Puerto Rico, Act 251 of August 20, 1998 requires certification and the affixing of a seal on the work performed by any licensed refrigeration or air conditioning technician to guarantee that the equipment is free of refrigerant leaks and that installation service meets all quality standards.

Santana Castro said he was struck by the number of schools that have installed air conditioners, either because they had budgeted for it or because the mayors of the towns where they were located had purchased several units.

“Government agencies such as the Department of Education and municipalities must ensure that they hire companies that have a licensed technician so that they never face difficulties when demanding guarantees, maintenance service or repair,” Santana Castro stressed.

The CTRA president said that to help mitigate the effects of climate change, at a global level “we are in a transition, where modern air conditioning equipment uses the R32 refrigerant, which is flammable, and you must know how to handle it well, since sometimes welding must be done at pipe joints.”

“No one should be at risk of a fire in their school, home or business,” he added.

Santana Castro said further that “they must take into account the fact that a labeled van, tools and the name of a company registered with the Department of State does not authorize them by law to carry out work in Puerto Rico because this is a regulated profession,” and that installers “need knowledge and training on the use and management of refrigerants.”

He stressed that given the increase in requests to install air conditioners in schools, the companies participating in the tenders or the personnel hired to carry out any installation must be certified by the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technician Examining Board to practice the profession.

As a support arm to the examining board, which is attached to the Department of State, the CTRA has digitized the names of all licensed technicians up to date and names of companies so both private entities and government agencies can call to corroborate before hiring the personnel who will carry out any new installation, maintenance or repair service, Santana Castro said.

Refrigeration and air conditioning technicians are those who complete their eight hours of continuing education per year and renew their license every four years with the Department of State. “Every citizen must demand that they be shown their current license, which is a certificate that many keep in their email or a paper copy,” he said. “Likewise, technicians who remain registered have their card that indicates their license number.”

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