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Refrigerants found in refrigerators, freezers, and air-conditioners can be bad for the environment. Because refrigerators and air conditioners are increasingly using refrigerants made from synthetic greenhouse gasses (SGGs).
Nowadays, venting refrigerants are a matter of concern for our environment. Hence you might ask- Is it illegal to vent refrigerants?
Yes, venting refrigerants are illegal. The 1996 Ozone Layer Protection Act (OLPA) mandates the phase-out of ozone-depleting refrigerants. The emission of these refrigerants into the atmosphere is banned. Released SGG and other ozone-depleting refrigerants might result in severe penalties.
Let’s get into the depth of it.
The Legal Aspects of Venting Refrigerants
By far, we know that venting refrigerants are illegal. Also, refrigerators and air-conditioning refrigerants contain synthetic greenhouse gasses (SGGs).
The 2002 Climate Change Response Act (CRA) banned SGG emissions starting in 2013. OLPA phases out ozone-depleting refrigerants. To put these refrigerants into the air is against the law.
The OLPA and CCRA offer the EPA enforcement power. SGG and other ozone-depleting refrigerants can lead to harsh penalties. You must know the refrigerants in your equipment and not release them into the environment.
That’s why venting refrigerants are illegal. The government also gives rewards for reporting refrigerant venting.
From When It Became Illegal to Vent Refrigerant?
The Clean Air Act (CAA) sets air quality standards. And because of these new rules, it is now illegal to vent refrigerants.
The Clean Air Act has been amended numerous times by Congress. Because that’ll better protect the environment and the health of its citizens. Section 608 of the 1990 revisions were incorporated into the legislation. And that’s how it all started.
An ozone-protection provision can be based on Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. For example, technicians must pass this test before they can handle or purchase refrigerants. Because those have an impact on the ozone layer.
The ozone layer is protected under Section 608 of the act. Earth’s atmosphere contains ozone gas. The ozone layer has the highest quantity of ozone.
The sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays are blocked off by ozone. And that plays a crucial role in ozone.
To recap, chlorine-containing refrigerants deplete the ozone layer when released into the atmosphere. People, animals, and plants face an increased risk of skin cancer and other diseases.
Chlorine-containing refrigerant compounds are the topic of Section 608. The ozone layer suffers the most from their release.
The Environmental Protection Agency enforces this part of the Clean Air Act (EPA). Venting refrigerants has been forbidden under the clean air act since 1990.
What Are the Prohibitions?
Venting refrigerants have certain restrictions that have to be adhered to, and it’s a must. This section will cover venting and Clean Air Act venting prohibitions.
The Clean Air Act prohibits the purposeful venting of ozone-depleting refrigerants. The ozone layer is necessary for shielding us from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. You need to keep that in mind.
This includes CFCs and HCFCs and their equivalents (such as HCFCs). Those are prohibited from being emitted into the atmosphere.
During maintenance, professionals must follow all appropriate protocols to prevent venting-
- Appliances containing these refrigerants can be repaired
- And disposal in this manner.
Venting these refrigerants on purpose is punishable by civil and criminal penalties. Venting can result in a punishment of up to $44,539 per day. That was declared for each infraction in 2017.
For example, you might be penalized up to $267,234 for two infractions in three days. Up to $10,000 in compensation is available to anyone who provides information. It’s required when a technician intentionally vents.
Before servicing or disposing of damaged equipment, collect the refrigerants. This precaution is taken to avoid refrigerant leakage during maintenance or disposal.
Technicians must inspect the service hose. They must do that at the end of the recovery process. That will ensure no liquid refrigerant remains. The Venting Prohibition prohibits the venting of any refrigerant trapped in the hose.
Venting isn’t needed if the equipment has all the necessary low-loss fittings for normal use. If your kit doesn’t have low-loss fittings, you’re breaking the law by releasing the refrigerant.
The contaminated refrigerants must also be evacuated to a required evacuation level while servicing the equipment. This also prevents ventilation. The Clean Air Act considers it illegal to venting if you fail to follow this procedure.
Furthermore, never use compressed nitrogen when conducting a leak check on a fully charged device. Because of the contamination, reclaiming the refrigerant will be difficult or impossible.
A leaky system with refrigerant within will only be able to release the refrigerant. That is still inside if the system is pressurized.
The appliance must first be recovered and evacuated to the required levels to prevent illegal venting. A full or even a partial charge on an appliance is acceptable. Before conducting a leak test, you must remove any remaining refrigerant from the system.
By putting central air with radiator heat in their house, the process of illegal venting can be dodged.
But not all radiators are applicable for this method. You need good quality and well-built radiators to do this. For your convenience, I’ve listed some of the best radiators I’ve come across from my experience.
- The AB WiseWater Wall-mounted Radiator Heater has an Immediate Energy Efficient Heating Operation system that heats any room in your home to the desired temperature.
- Now, if you want something new then the COSTWAY Oil Filled Radiator Heater is perfect. It has 3 adjustment modes and energy-saving options.
You can use these for many years. They are very cost-efficient also. If your products just got dumped, you can easily repair them from the nearest technician.
Some refrigerant accidentally leaked during maintenance. The ‘de minimis rule’ is an exception to the regulation for this purpose. Venting isn’t needed if the equipment has all the necessary low-loss fittings for normal use.
Now you might be wondering, what is de minimis?
De minimis is the attempt to recover, recycle, or properly dispose of refrigerants can result in a small amount of chemical leakage. It only applies if technicians have taken all required precautions and followed all service procedures.
Included in this minimal release are the following:
- Failure of catastrophic equipment
- Repairing appliances promptly prevents accidental release
- Charge and service appliances can be charged by connecting and discharging hoses from the outlet
So, if something like this happens to you rest assured you won’t be facing legal troubles.
The EPA exempts refrigerants from venting restrictions when they do not harm the environment.
Exempt from venting prohibition are all-natural refrigerants. As a result, they can expel their steam. Because they don’t deplete the ozone layer, natural refrigerants can be released into the air.
The following are examples of natural refrigerants from new EPA refrigerant regulations 2020:
- R-290 (propane)
- R-600a (isobutane)
- R-717 (ammonia)
- R-728 (nitrogen)
- R-744 (carbon dioxide)
In the natural world, these refrigerants can be found all around us. To give only two examples, atmospheric gasses such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen are common occurrences.
Venting prohibitions under the Clean Air Act were addressed in this section. All ozone-depleting refrigerants, as well as their replacements, are prohibited from being vented. Reclaiming refrigerants will save you in further cases.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can refrigerants be sold again?
Yes. As long as a complete refrigerant circuit is sold, EPA laws allow its sale. For example, a condensing unit of an air-conditioner or refrigeration equipment cannot include used refrigerant. It is when it is put on the market.
What is a violation of the EPA?
The EPA enforces environmental rules. Improper storage, inaccurate labelling, overflowing capacity, and failing to fix concerns can lead to fines. Inefficient waste management is another violation that leads to fines.
What must be done to the refrigerant that has been ejected from the system?
When the cylinder’s refrigerant vapour is released, it must be collected. It is not necessary to recover refrigerant. Do it if the pressure in the system is less than 0 psi. Try to do that after installing the fitting.
That may provide you with enough knowledge and clear your inquiries on “Is it illegal to vent refrigerants?”. Venting refrigerants will become a curse to our environments.
So, you must avoid venting refrigerants if you don’t want to face legal consequences. Also, this will help you to save nature.
Have a wonderful day and healthily live for the future by disposing of harmful things to nature!
HVAC tech with over 30 years of experience. Retired and doing repair work on the side around Madison County, AL.