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FAQ


What is an air purge system?

An air-purge system is a technology which allows an A/C technician to purge air from pure (98%+) R12 or R134a.

What happens when a hydrocarbon such as propane or butane is used in an A/C system?

The performance of the A/C system is actually not hampered by the use of these gases, however, the safety of the user of the vehicle IS.  If there is a leak in any part of the A/C system or a front-end collision, which causes a leak in the system, the potential for fire and explosion is nearly 100%.  Under the hood of a car there are hundreds of potential ignition sources to ignite the propane.

I heard of propane or butane being used in A/C systems, is this true?

Yes.  There have been some documented cases where technicians have found 100% hydrocarbons in an A/C system.  In this situation, it is acceptable to vent this gas –recovering this would cause too much potential harm to human life.

Is air in refrigerant a problem?

Yes. Air is a contaminant of refrigerant that can enter an A/C system or cylinder and create A/C performance problems.

Non-condensable gasses (NCG or "air"), which are mainly comprised of ambient air commonly contaminate refrigerant storage cylinders and air conditioning systems.  Contamination enters into the refrigerant from sources such as leaking joints on vehicle air conditioning systems, improper handling of refrigerant transfer hoses, improper use of refrigerant recovery and recycling equipment or failure of recovery and recycling equipment.  Air contamination will lead to a number of vehicle air conditioning system problems including increased compressor heat and wear due to increased head pressures, added stress of components due to increased head pressure and reduction of system efficiency due to dilution of refrigerant by the air.

According to MACS' (Mobile Air Conditioning Society) statistics, the most consistent problem in a vehicle's poor air conditioning performance is the presence of air in the A/C system.  Air, when mixed with refrigerant, changes the pressure of that gas and causes an A/C system to exhibit poor cooling properties.  In the 1996 MACS study, 111 automotive repair facilities were checked in Florida to qualify/quantify the A/C contamination problem, 27 facilities (24%) indicated that excess air was their biggest problem/contaminant.

What air purge systems are available today?
  1. Recovery/Recycling Machines
  2. Temperature/Pressure Measurements
  3. Neutronics Air-Radicator™
1. Recovery/Recycling Machines can be used to purge air from A/C systems or cylinders.  This process involves pulling a vacuum on the system, and allowing the machine to purge the air automatically.  This process, however, can take upwards of an hour to complete and may not be able to remove all air.

2. Temperature/Pressure measurements allow a user to make some assumptions about air content based on the readings of two variables, temperature and pressure.  This method is in no way 'automatic', and requires hours of 'babysitting'.  Essentially a refrigerant storage cylinder must first temperature stabilize ("room" temperature is ideal) to the ambient air conditions.  Next, the refrigerant will "read" a pressure for that  specific (ambient) temperature.  If the pressure is higher than it should be for the ambient temperature, an "assumption" is made that there is air in the cylinder.  By opening the cylinder valve slowly the air is vented.  However, when air is vented from the cylinder, the refrigerant will automatically begin to cool itself, so the technician will need to close the valve and allow the cylinder to temperature stabilize again.  Allowing a cylinder to temperature stabilize can in some cases take over 12 hours depending on ambient conditions.  This process is repeated until the cylinder has stabilized and reads the correct pressure for the temperature, (tired yet?).

3.The Air-Radicator™ (manufactured by Neutronics) is an automatic air purge system. Purging of air is achieved through a direct measurement of gases via the use of an infrared technology.  This technology is not dependent upon pressure or temperature measurements or an oxygen sensor.  A technician will attach the Air-Radicator™ to the vapor port of a cylinder or vehicle's A/C system and follow the instrument's easy instructions.  The Air-Radicator™ accurately measures the air in R12 or R134a and automatically shuts off when the air is successfully purged.  A typical 32 ounce A/C system with 8% air will only take about 3 - 5 minutes to purge.

Do I need be concerned about A/C component warranties if I retrofit a system to an alternative refrigerant?

Yes.  If a contaminated or alternative refrigerant is used–knowingly or unknowingly –the original factory warranties on the A/C system (including components, i.e, compressor, evaporator, etc.) typically are voided.  Additionally, the warranty on the A/C service equipment that the technician used is also voided, in most cases.

Whoever placed the refrigerant into the car or into the machine is responsible.  In the event that a technician contaminated a customer's A/C system, the technician/shop pays for the repair –in the event that a technician pulled contaminated refrigerant through a recovery/recycling machine, again, the technician or shop pays for the repair!

Do I need to do anything special to retrofit an old R12 system to a R134a system?

Yes. According to EPA regulations, the use of any alternative refrigerant to replace R-12 requires at a minimum that --
  • unique service fittings be used in order to minimize the risk of cross-contamination of either the air- conditioning system or the service facility's recycling equipment;
  • the new refrigerant be identified by a uniquely-colored label in order to identify the refrigerant in the system;
  • all R-12 be properly removed from the system before filling the system with an alternative refrigerant;
  • in order to prevent release of refrigerant to the atmosphere, a high-pressure compressor shutoff switch be installed on any system equipped with a pressure relief device; and
  • separate, dedicated EPA-approved equipment be used to recover the R-12 from the system.
In addition, alternative refrigerant blends that contain HCFC-22 must be used with barrier hoses

What does R-22 do to a typical MVAC (mobile vehicle air conditioning) system?

Refrigerant HCFC-22 (R-22) is a base refrigerant in over 80% of the SNAP listed alternative refrigerant blends.  And R-22 is widely used and acceptable in the HVAC market.  But why isn't R-22 compatible with most MVAC systems?

The R-22 molecule acts much like water to a sponge in a MVAC system - it penetrates the rubber hoses and seal materials and swells them - like a sponge would expand when water is absorbed.  Once the gas (R-22) has saturated the rubber material it will then try to escape, causing bubbles to form on the surface of the rubber which pop and blister the material.  Once the R-22 has escaped, it leaves behind a hose or seal which  (1) is now deformed, (2) has little or no remaining elasticity, and (3) will dry-rot causing leaks in the system.  In many cases, the compressor shows the most noticeable damage ~ and if the compressor fails under warranty and the manufacturer determines R-22 was used in the unit, the warranty is void.

The HVAC market uses R-22 to produce lower temperatures which are required in some systems like freezers, however these systems use hermetically sealed compressors and metal tubing.  MVAC systems do not.  If you choose to use one of these alternative refrigerants you need to be careful.  First, find out if that alternative refrigerant when used in that A/C system will void  some or all of the warranties. Next find out if you need to change the hoses in the system to barrier hoses - which do a better job of handling R-22.  And finally, determine if the money your customer will save on this A/C job will actually end up costing them more in the long run. 

Imagine charging your customer $50 for an A/C job to use an alternative refrigerant - 6 months later the customer returns with a busted A/C system.  This time the components are damaged and all the warranties are void.


Why can't we continue to use R12?

Since the early 1970s scientist have been watching a hole grow in the ozone layer.  And because of this ozone problem, over 150 countries agreed to stop the production of CFCs.  This agreement, signed in the late 1980s, is known as the Montreal Protocol.   In 1990, President Bush signed the Clean Air Act which empowered the EPA to set forth and enforce rules and regulations regarding CFCs.

CFCs destroy the ozone layer. The ozone layer (in the stratosphere, between 10 - 30 miles above the earth's surface) keeps 95 - 99% of the sun's ultraviolet radiation (UV) from striking the earth.  The ozone layer is made up of O3 molecules (three oxygen molecules bound together).  When one CFC (i.e., R-12) molecule is struck by sunlight it releases a chlorine atom.  The chlorine atom and ozone (O3) molecules set off a chain reaction.  Once the reaction is complete, that one chlorine atom has just destroyed 100,000 molecules of ozone from our atmosphere.      When the protective ozone is destroyed, UV rays become stronger and more harmful to plants and animals.  Increased exposure to UV radiation is partially responsible for the alarming increase in skin cancer - the rate of which is tenfold higher today than it was in the 1950's.  And according to the National Academy of Sciences, for each 1percent decline in ozone levels, humans will suffer as much as 2 to 3 percent increase in the incidence of certain skin cancers.

To protect the ozone, we developed new refrigerants, such as R134a to take the place of R12.

What do I do with contaminated refrigerant?

Contaminated refrigerant requires special handling and special record keeping.  Make sure you follow these guidelines to the letter –if you don't you could be exposing yourself to potential EPA headaches.

1. Identify the refrigerant in an A/C system with a refrigerant identifier. Use an identifier with a 98%+ accuracy rating, and an identifier that will give you the percentages of R12,  R134a, R22, hydrocarbons, and air.

2. Recover the contaminated refrigerant.    Dedicate an R-12 recover-only machine, or buy a special machine for this purpose. Robinair Scavenger - Model 17680AList Price:  $1530*800-628-6496

3. Store the refrigerant in an 'approved' cylinder,     a standard DOT-certified grey w/yellow top tank    4. Dispose of the contaminated refrigerant.   Use one of these vendors who will take the refrigerant from you, and in some cases they will actually pay you for the contaminated refrigerant.RemTec International6150 Merger Dr.Holland, OH  43528888-873-6832Full Circle (with 11 regional offices)121 S. Norwood Dr.Hurst, TX  76053817-282-0022 (x220)Refrigerant Reclaim, 805 Tile Dr., Red Wing, MN  55066860-651-6114 or 800-235-0705

EPA maintains a complete list of reclaimers through the Hotline at 800/296-1996.  Keep in mind, most reclaimers require payment from you to handle your junk refrigerant.

Do I need be concerned about A/C component warranties if I retrofit a system to an alternative refrigerant?

Yes.  If a contaminated or alternative refrigerant is used–knowingly or unknowingly –the original factory warranties on the A/C system (including components, i.e, compressor, evaporator, etc.) typically are voided.  Additionally, the warranty on the A/C service equipment that the technician used is also voided, in most cases.

Whoever placed the refrigerant into the car or into the machine is responsible.  In the event that a technician contaminated a customer's A/C system, the technician/shop pays for the repair –in the event that a technician pulled contaminated refrigerant through a recovery/recycling machine, again, the technician or shop pays for the repair!

How can I know what refrigerant is in an A/C system?

There is no way of truly knowing what refrigerant is in an A/C system unless you use a refrigerant identifier.  Of course the EPA mandates the use of unique fittings and labels for each refrigerant, however, when a car's A/C system has been retrofitted to use an alternative refrigerant, the "labeling/fittings" step of the process is often missed.  Refrigerants cannot be seen, have no odor, have no distinct color, and have no audible marker –not one of the human senses works in identifying refrigerants.  The only way to know what is in an A/C system is to use a refrigerant identifier.  It only takes one car to pull in for an A/C service to set off a chain reaction.  It's called the one car theory. One car pulls in for A/C service, the technician recovers the 'unknown' refrigerant from the car's A/C system and puts it in his R-12 bulk storage cylinder.  After the service he recharges that car with the refrigerant from that cylinder –and he also charges every other car that comes in for R-12 service with that same cylinder.  If car #1 in this story has a mixture of refrigerants -–now so does every other car that was serviced using that same cylinder…

Will we ever have problems obtaining supplies of R134a?

The answer may not be so easy.  According to recent (early 1999) industry news, there may not be enough HFC-134a (R-134a) to go around.  Early warnings from the European market have begun, where supplies have tightened severely.  This situation could easily spill over into the US mobile A/C market, where demand is very strong. An estimated 50 million cars will need supplies of R-134a and R-12 to keep their cooling systems operating between now and 2006, according to a federal study.  Another indicator of this situation is the recent price hike of R-134a.  With an anticipated shortage, the price has gone up by 50% over last year's (1998) prices.

The shortage can be traced back to a problem with the supply of precursor chemicals like trichlorethylene in the manufacture of the refrigerant.  HVAC markets may not experience the same shortage as the MVAC market where many chiller manufacturers have contracts with R-134a suppliers.    What does R-22 do to a typical MVAC (mobile vehicle air conditioning) system?

Refrigerant HCFC-22 (R-22) is a base refrigerant in over 80% of the SNAP listed alternative refrigerant blends.  And R-22 is widely used and acceptable in the HVAC market.  But why isn't R-22 compatible with most MVAC systems?

The R-22 molecule acts much like water to a sponge in a MVAC system - it penetrates the rubber hoses and seal materials and swells them - like a sponge would expand when water is absorbed.  Once the gas (R-22) has saturated the rubber material it will then try to escape, causing bubbles to form on the surface of the rubber which pop and blister the material.  Once the R-22 has escaped, it leaves behind a hose or seal which  (1) is now deformed, (2) has little or no remaining elasticity, and (3) will dry-rot causing leaks in the system.  In many cases, the compressor shows the most noticeable damage ~ and if the compressor fails under warranty and the manufacturer determines R-22 was used in the unit, the warranty is void.

The HVAC market uses R-22 to produce lower temperatures which are required in some systems like freezers, however these systems use hermetically sealed compressors and metal tubing.  MVAC systems do not.  If you choose to use one of these alternative refrigerants you need to be careful.  First, find out if that alternative refrigerant when used in that A/C system will void  some or all of the warranties. Next find out if you need to change the hoses in the system to barrier hoses - which do a better job of handling R-22.  And finally, determine if the money your customer will save on this A/C job will actually end up costing them more in the long run. 

Imagine charging your customer $50 for an A/C job to use an alternative refrigerant - 6 months later the customer returns with a busted A/C system.  This time the components are damaged and all the warranties are void.

What do all OEMs (car manufacturers) currently use in all of their cars?

All OEMs use R134a and have done so in all cars beginning with model year 1995.  However, some cars prior to 1995 had factory R134a systems installed.  Many service technicians believe that R-134a is only a temporary replacement for R-12, to be used until a drop-in replacement that cools well and does not require a retrofit becomes available. Current research indicates that no such replacement refrigerant exists. The worldwide automotive industry conducted extensive research and testing on many potential substitutes for R-12 before selecting R-134a.

How many refrigerants are currently "acceptable for use" in cars today?

Nine (9)alternative refrigerants are currently legal for use in mobile air conditioning systems today.

Can two refrigerants be mixed and still work?

No.  Refrigerants are designed to operate at a specific pressure.  When two refrigerants are mixed, the pressures change and the mixture is useless.

Do I need to get new certification to use the alternative refrigerants?

No.  If you already have your 609 certification you do not need to obtain any additional training or certification.

Can anyone buy the alternative refrigerants and retrofit kits?

If it's R134a the answer is yes.  For all other "acceptable for use" refrigerants the answer is No.  Only Section 609 certified technicians can purchase R12 or any of the alternative refrigerants, EXCEPT for R134a.  Anyone can purchase R134a, with or without certification.  The vendor who is selling the refrigerant must either ask to see your certification or have a copy of it on file.  If they do not they are in violation of the EPA's guidelines and are subject to fines and penalties under the Clean Air Act. Additionally, anyone can buy retrofit kits. Service technicians should keep in mind that there is no such thing as a universal retrofit procedure, or a simple kit a technician can purchase that will provide all the necessary parts to guarantee a successful retrofit for every make and model. Even within particular models, retrofit requirements may vary. A particular make, model and year vehicle driven for 90,000 miles in Houston may require a more extensive retrofit than the same make, model and year driven for 35,000 miles in Minneapolis.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) provides guidelines for a/c retrofit in their publication J1661. Several refrigerant and lubricant producers have published their own recommendations. EPA is compiling a list of organizations that offer either classroom or home-study (videotape/workbook) retrofit training. For EPA's current list, see "Resources for Retrofit Training" at the end of this document.

Can I recycle alternative refrigerants?

In a recent letter, the EPA said refrigerant blends used in MVACs could be recycled provided that the recycling equipment meets a new Underwriters Laboratory (UL) standard and the refrigerant is returned only to the vehicle from which it is removed.

The EPA's Stratospheric Ozone Protection Division said they have worked closely with the MVAC industry to ensure the purity of recycled CFC-12 and HCF-134a through strict adherence to standards first established by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).  Under those provisions, technicians were allowed to recover blend refrigerants and send them to a reclaimer.  However, because standards did not exist for blend refrigerants, technicians were not allowed to recycle the MVAC refrigerants.

The EPA letter stated the new version of the standard, UL Standard 2964, and includes several requirements for recycling equipment to guarantee that recycled blend refrigerant is similar in purity to recycled CFC-12 or HFC-134a.  EPA said recycling equipment meeting this standard is expected to adequately remove oil, water and other impurities.  Further, technicians must follow similar procedures for recycling blend refrigerants as they do for pure refrigerants.

One key difference between pure refrigerants and blends, however, is that blends may fractionate.  This can make it impossible to predict in advance what composition will remain in the system after a leak.  EPA said that is why it is appropriate to recharge such refrigerant only into the original vehicle.

The only exception to this rule is for fleets of vehicles with a common owner where recycled blend refrigerant may be moved among vehicles within the fleet.

You can call the Hotline number (800-296-1996) listed above to determine the status of these EPA standards and requirements.

I heard a story about HC-12a / OZ-12, are they flammable refrigerants? And what is the full story?

According to the EPA HC-12a and OZ-12 brand hydrocarbon refrigerant blends are flammable refrigerants.  Their primary components are hydrocarbons, which are flammable substances like propane and butane.  HC-12a and OZ12 are registered trademarks of OZ Technology, Inc.  HC-12a has been marketed since 1994.  OZ-12 was a similar blend marketed until the introduction of HC-12a.  EPA has reviewed both products under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. Note that EPA refers to the chemical composition of HC-12a as Hydrocarbon Blend B.  EPA considers any substance with that chemical composition, no matter what its trade name is, to be Hydrocarbon Blend B and to have the same legal status that HC-12a has.

In order to meet Department of Transportation requirements for shipping HC-12a in six-ounce cans, OZ Technology reduced the vapor pressure of HC-12a in June 1998.  In order to reduce the vapor pressure, OZ Technology changed the composition of HC-12a.  EPA does not consider this reformulated HC-12a to be the same as Hydrocarbon Blend B.  The reformulated HC-12a has not been submitted for SNAP review, and thus cannot be marketed or used as a substitute for ozone-depleting substances.

DURACOOL 12a has the same chemical composition as the HC-12a formulation that was submitted for SNAP review as Hydrocarbon Blend B.  Both HC-12a and DURACOOL 12a are different than the new formulation of HC-12a in six-ounce cans.  DURACOOL 12a is the registered trademark of Duracool Limited, the Canadian company that has manufactured DURACOOL 12a since 1997.  Duracool Limited and OZ Technology, the manufacturer of HC-12a, are separate, unrelated companies with their own manufacturing facilities and distribution mechanisms.

It has been illegal since July 13, 1995, to replace CFC-12 (R-12) with the HC-12a formulation that was submitted for SNAP review in any refrigeration or A?C application other than industrial process refrigeration.  The same prohibition for OZ-12a took effect on April 18, 1994.  Because DURACOOL 12a has the same chemical composition as the HC-12a formulation that was submitted for SNAP review (i.e., Hydrocarbon Blend B), DURACOOL 12a is also subject to the same restrictions.

HC-12a, as reformulated to meet DOT requirements, is not the same as Hydrocarbon Blend B and has been submitted for SNAP review.  OZ Technology is therefore prohibited from marketing this blend as a substitute for any ozone-depleting substance.  In addition, any use of this blend as a substitute for CFC-12 or any other ozone-depleting chemical, in industrial process refrigeration or any other refrigeration or A/C end use, is prohibited under the Clean Air Act.

Since HC-12a as submitted for SNAP review, is chemically different from HC-12a, as reformulated to meet DOT requirements, and since it has a different legal status under the Clean Air Act, users of any substance marketed as HC-12a should be aware of which HC-12a they have purchased.Note that the Clean Air Act does not regulate the use of any of these hydrocarbon refrigerants when they are used as replacements for non-ozone depleting chemicals such as HFC-134a.  However, many states prohibit using flammable refrigerants in motor vehicles, regardless of which original refrigerant was used in the vehicle.

Sale of refrigerants listed under the SNAP program is not regulated under SNAP.  However, statutes and regulations issued by other federal, state, or local agencies may control the sale and advertising of these products.

Since November 15, 1995, the Clean Air Act has prohibited the venting of any refrigerant during the service, maintenance, repair, or disposal of air conditioning and refrigeration systems.  When working on a system containing a hydrocarbon refrigerant such as HC-12a or DURACOOL 12a, the technician must recover the refrigerant into a suitable container and safely dispose of it.

The following states prohibit the use of flammable refrigerants in automobile air conditioners:  Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

Can I legally use HC-12a / OZ-12 for use in R134a cars, or in industrial refrigeration applications?

The EPA, while not having jurisdiction over the use of replacement refrigerant for R134a, does not allow the use of these refrigerants as replacement refrigerants for R134a.  However, HC-12a and OZ-12 are considered safe and acceptable alternative refrigerants for industrial refrigeration applications.

I heard of propane or butane being used in A/C systems, is this true?

Yes.  There have been some documented cases where technicians have found 100% hydrocarbons in an A/C system.  In this situation, it is acceptable to vent this gas –recovering this would cause too much potential harm to human life.

What happens when a hydrocarbon such as propane or butane is used in an A/C system?

The performance of the A/C system is actually not hampered by the use of these gases, however, the safety of the user of the vehicle IS.  If there is a leak in any part of the A/C system or a front-end collision, which causes a leak in the system, the potential for fire and explosion is nearly 100%.  Under the hood of a car there are hundreds of potential ignition sources to ignite the propane.

Does the EPA test alternative refrigerants for performance in cars?

No.  The SNAP program evaluates substitutes only for their effect on human health and the environment, and not for performance or durability. None of the alternative refrigerants have been endorsed by the OEMs for use in vehicles, and few have had extensive testing in a wide range of vehicle models.

Do I need to do anything special to retrofit an old R12 system to a R134a system?

Yes. According to EPA regulations, the use of any alternative refrigerant to replace R-12 requires at a minimum that --
  • unique service fittings be used in order to minimize the risk of cross-contamination of either the air- conditioning system or the service facility's recycling equipment;
  • the new refrigerant be identified by a uniquely-colored label in order to identify the refrigerant in the system;
  • all R-12 be properly removed from the system before filling the system with an alternative refrigerant;
  • in order to prevent release of refrigerant to the atmosphere, a high-pressure compressor shutoff switch be installed on any system equipped with a pressure relief device; and
  • separate, dedicated EPA-approved equipment be used to recover the R-12 from the system.
In addition, alternative refrigerant blends that contain HCFC-22 must be used with barrier hoses


What do I do with contaminated refrigerant?


Contaminated refrigerant requires special handling and special record keeping.  Make sure you follow these guidelines to the letter –if you don't you could be exposing yourself to potential EPA headaches.

1. Identify the refrigerant in an A/C system with a refrigerant identifier. Use an identifier with a 98%+ accuracy rating, and an identifier that will give you the percentages of R12,  R134a, R22, hydrocarbons, and air.

2. Recover the contaminated refrigerant.    Dedicate an R-12 recover-only machine, or buy a special machine for this purpose. Robinair Scavenger - Model 17680AList Price:  $1530*800-628-6496

3. Store the refrigerant in an 'approved' cylinder,     a standard DOT-certified grey w/yellow top tank   

4. Dispose of the contaminated refrigerant.   Use one of these vendors who will take the refrigerant from you, and in some cases they will actually pay you for the contaminated refrigerant.RemTec International6150 Merger Dr.Holland, OH  43528888-873-6832Full Circle (with 11 regional offices)121 S. Norwood Dr.Hurst, TX  76053817-282-0022 (x220)Refrigerant Reclaim, 805 Tile Dr., Red Wing, MN  55066860-651-6114 or 800-235-0705

EPA maintains a complete list of reclaimers through the Hotline at 800/296-1996.  Keep in mind, most reclaimers require payment from you to handle your junk refrigerant.

Is air in refrigerant a problem?

Yes. Air is a contaminant of refrigerant that can enter an A/C system or cylinder and create A/C performance problems.

Non-condensable gasses (NCG or "air"), which are mainly comprised of ambient air commonly contaminate refrigerant storage cylinders and air conditioning systems.  Contamination enters into the refrigerant from sources such as leaking joints on vehicle air conditioning systems, improper handling of refrigerant transfer hoses, improper use of refrigerant recovery and recycling equipment or failure of recovery and recycling equipment.  Air contamination will lead to a number of vehicle air conditioning system problems including increased compressor heat and wear due to increased head pressures, added stress of components due to increased head pressure and reduction of system efficiency due to dilution of refrigerant by the air.

According to MACS' (Mobile Air Conditioning Society) statistics, the most consistent problem in a vehicle's poor air conditioning performance is the presence of air in the A/C system.  Air, when mixed with refrigerant, changes the pressure of that gas and causes an A/C system to exhibit poor cooling properties.  In the 1996 MACS study, 111 automotive repair facilities were checked in Florida to qualify/quantify the A/C contamination problem, 27 facilities (24%) indicated that excess air was their biggest problem/contaminant.


What is the SNAP Program?

SNAP
stands for S ignificant New Alternatives Policy.  The SNAP rule is the most important thing you should understand when it comes to evaluating the different choices you have in new refrigerants. It is truly the "rule book" for A/C technicians.

What fines will I expose myself to if I don't follow the SNAP guidelines?

According to the EPAs "How to Survive A EPA Clean Air Act Title VI Refrigerant Regulations Compliance Inspection" document, if you break any one of the SNAP rules and are convicted, you can expect:1. Civil penalties of $27,500 per day of violation,2.Criminal penalties, up to 5 years of federal imprisonment for knowing or willful violations, and 2 years imprisonment for submission of false records.

How does the EPA catch and convict a SNAP violator?

The EPA routinely conducts 'surprise' or 'unannounced' inspections to verify compliance requirements.  In addition, EPA pays up to $10,000 reward to individuals reporting violations that result in successful court cases and/or convictions under the "Citizen Award Program."

Do I need to maintain records on refrigerants I buy, use, or dispose?

Yes…for three years.

How long do I need to keep records, according to the EPA?

Three years

Does the EPA test alternative refrigerants for performance in cars?

No.  The SNAP program evaluates substitutes only for their effect on human health and the environment, and not for performance or durability. None of the alternative refrigerants have been endorsed by the OEMs for use in vehicles, and few have had extensive testing in a wide range of vehicle models

Do I need to do anything special to retrofit an old R12 system to a R134a system?

Yes. According to EPA regulations, the use of any alternative refrigerant to replace R-12 requires at a minimum that --
  • unique service fittings be used in order to minimize the risk of cross-contamination of either the air- conditioning system or the service facility's recycling equipment;
  • the new refrigerant be identified by a uniquely-colored label in order to identify the refrigerant in the system;
  • all R-12 be properly removed from the system before filling the system with an alternative refrigerant;
  • in order to prevent release of refrigerant to the atmosphere, a high-pressure compressor shutoff switch be installed on any system equipped with a pressure relief device; and
  • separate, dedicated EPA-approved equipment be used to recover the R-12 from the system.
In addition, alternative refrigerant blends that contain HCFC-22 must be used with barrier hoses.


What is the SNAP Program?

SNAP
stands for Significant New Alternatives Policy.  The SNAP rule is the most important thing you should understand when it comes to evaluating the different choices you have in new refrigerants. It is truly the "rule book" for A/C technicians.

What fines will I expose myself to if I don't follow the SNAP guidelines?

According to the EPAs "How to Survive A EPA Clean Air Act Title VI Refrigerant Regulations Compliance Inspection" document, if you break any one of the SNAP rules and are convicted, you can expect:1. Civil penalties of $27,500 per day of violation,2.Criminal penalties, up to 5 years of federal imprisonment for knowing or willful violations, and 2 years imprisonment for submission of false records.

How does the EPA catch and convict a SNAP violator?

The EPA routinely conducts 'surprise' or 'unannounced' inspections to verify compliance requirements.  In addition, EPA pays up to $10,000 reward to individuals reporting violations that result in successful court cases and/or convictions under the "Citizen Award Program."

Do I need to maintain records on refrigerants I buy, use, or dispose?

Yes…for three years.

How long do I need to keep records, according to the EPA?

Three years

Does the EPA test alternative refrigerants for performance in cars?

No.  The SNAP program evaluates substitutes only for their effect on human health and the environment, and not for performance or durability. None of the alternative refrigerants have been endorsed by the OEMs for use in vehicles, and few have had extensive testing in a wide range of vehicle models

Do I need to do anything special to retrofit an old R12 system to a R134a system?

Yes. According to EPA regulations, the use of any alternative refrigerant to replace R-12 requires at a minimum that --
  • unique service fittings be used in order to minimize the risk of cross-contamination of either the air- conditioning system or the service facility's recycling equipment;
  • the new refrigerant be identified by a uniquely-colored label in order to identify the refrigerant in the system;
  • all R-12 be properly removed from the system before filling the system with an alternative refrigerant;
  • in order to prevent release of refrigerant to the atmosphere, a high-pressure compressor shutoff switch be installed on any system equipped with a pressure relief device; and
  • separate, dedicated EPA-approved equipment be used to recover the R-12 from the system.
In addition, alternative refrigerant blends that contain HCFC-22 must be used with barrier hoses.


Where can I go to learn more information about alternative refrigerants?

To learn more about EPA regulations call 800-228-8711, or www.epa.gov.

What organization will keep me posted on the latest industry news?

MACS Worldwide
225 S Broad Street
P.O. Box 88
Lansdale, PA 19446
Phone: 215/631-7020
Fax: 215/631-7017
info@macsw.org
http://www.macsw.org