Capture Refrigerants During Service
A refrigerant is a compound, typically in a fluid or gaseous state, that absorbs heat from the environment and transfers to another area as refrigeration or air conditioning. It’s found in pretty much everything that cools, and sometimes in things that heat, most commonly air conditioners, fridges, freezers, and vehicle air conditioners. Whether you are on the job or at your home, you are likely to encounter refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment that need service or that you no longer need.
Government regulations are very strict on what you can and can’t do with used refrigerants. The guidelines are set up to avoid the damaging effects refrigerants can have on the atmosphere.
In general, if the refrigerant is not contaminated it can be recycled and reused. You can typically take the non contaminated refrigerant back to the wholesaler for exchange. If the refrigerant is contaminated, you’ll need to send it to a reclamation facility. At the reclamation facility they’ll separate the refrigerant into the individual component refrigerants or incinerate it in accordance with EPA guidelines. It’s important to make sure that during service, contractors and technicians capture all of the refrigerant so it is not released into the atmosphere.
If there are leaks during service or end-of-life disposal, it is important to follow guidelines on proper handling and disposal. Leakage of refrigerant gases has a significant environmental impact due to the ozone depletion and global warming potential properties of each specific refrigerant being released into the atmosphere.
EPA regulations under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act require technicians who service stationary refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment to follow specific practices meant to maximize recovery and recycling of refrigerants. Different practices apply to different equipment, depending on their size and manufacture. It’s important to make sure that during service, contractors and technicians capture all of the refrigerant so it is not released into the atmosphere.
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