Over the last 40 years, rules and regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency have significantly altered the regulations around how we keep our food, living spaces, and other daily necessities cold. Ultimately, the end goal is to ensure that we keep ourselves, our family, and the environment free of any harmful elements.
Refrigerant reclamation is an example of a process that needs specific regulation to avoid damaging environmental side-effects. This can be done in three forms: vapor, push-pull, or liquid.
Vapor reclamation is the most common form, and it works by converting the refrigerant into a vapor. It is then condensed into a liquid and collected by a recovery cylinder. While it is the most-used technique, it is also the slowest.
The push-pull method is ideal for reclaiming large quantities. In this process, the recovery unit pulls the vapor from the unit, and then pushes it back into the cylinder in the form of a liquid. Though it is very effective, it does require a lot of equipment, and it can be a difficult process.
In this case, the material remains in a liquid state and is best for transferring it from one cylinder to another. It is the fastest of all the techniques, but it does not work with all HVAC systems.
While these techniques can be attempted by homeowners with do-it-yourself repairs, the strictness of environmental regulations and the potential of financial and ecological consequences of mistakes usually mean that when the time comes, many people will choose an HVAC technician certified in refrigerant reclamation. They will already have the proper equipment and training to ensure the job is done with the correct standards and regulations.
The Environmental Protection Agency dictates that all refrigerant reclamation must be carefully documented, cleaned, and reused to help protect the ozone layer. No more than 1.5 percent of the substance must be lost in the recovery process, lest hefty fines and expensive cleanup methods be implemented on the reclaimer.
Certifications are non-transferable, and everyone within ownership of refrigerant must obtain an original certification from the EPA within 30 days of receiving the substance. Each batch must be tested for purity, and if it is found to be less than the standard, the fault is found with the person who removed it from the unit, and appropriate penalties will be implemented. The sale of CFC and HCFC (certain chemical refrigerant make-ups) is highly illegal. Anyone caught doing so will face fines and lose their license to handle the substance.
Due to the delicate nature of this process, it is always advisable to contact someone familiar with HVAC systems and the process of reclamation.