Every air conditioning unit, freezer, refrigerator, chiller, and the humidifier will have refrigerant in it. Handling the coolant inside it requires special training and EPA certification as well as the proper equipment that meets all applicable regulations. It is not a maintenance procedure that anyone without that specialized training, certifications, and equipment can or should do or attempt.
The Dangers of HVAC Refrigerant
The reasons for this are that many refrigerants are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are ozone-depleting substances. It is these chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons which caused the hole in the ozone layer. And that’s a pretty serious issue. It’s the ozone layer that blocks out most of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. UV radiation is a known carcinogen and is responsible for melanoma, or malignant skin cancer.
Handling of Refrigerants Can Be Dangerous
The other reasons are that there is the potential for the refrigerant to hurt you in a second way, through a serious case of frostbite, and because without proper training, it is easy to irreparably damage your HVAC system. Refrigerants will boil at around -15* Fahrenheit. This means that they become incredibly cold through their ultra-rapid evaporation at ambient temperatures. (A property exploited by your HVAC system to heat and cool your home.)
If the refrigerant in an HVAC system needs to be replaced it must be collected utilizing special, task-specific equipment. Specialized hoses, gauges, and a vacuum pump to pump down the system and transfer the refrigerant to a DOT-approved cylinder for storage and transportation are needed to safely remove the refrigerant.
Once the refrigerant is collected into the approved cylinder for storage and transportation it can either be stored, recycled, or destroyed.
A lot of refrigerants are no longer being manufactured because of their severe effects on the ozone layer. These refrigerants are known as ODSs or ozone-depleting substances. These refrigerants are usually either recycled or they are cleaned up to be used back in the same system they were removed from.
When the refrigerant is recycled it undergoes chemical reactions and fractional distillation to remove all impurities and contaminates within it. To be sold again those impurities must be lowered to levels equal to newly manufactured refrigerants.
If the refrigerant is to be destroyed it will undergo any one of several destruction methods such as radio frequency plasma, cement kiln, liquid injection incineration, or gaseous/flume oxidation.
At Sheldon's Heating & Air Conditioning, we care about the environment and all of our techs are trained and certified to meet the EPA guidelines. If you need your HVAC system serviced, you can rest assured knowing that we are giving you an environmentally friendly service. So, if you need your AC unit serviced, remember to give Sheldon's Heating & Air Conditioning a call!