What Regulations and Regulations Must be Followed When Performing an Air Conditioning System Repair Job?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established regulations (40 CFR, Part 82, Subpart F) under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act that require technicians who maintain, repair, or dispose of equipment that may release refrigerants into the atmosphere to be certified. Motor vehicle air conditioning (MVAC) systems use refrigeration to cool the driver or passenger compartment, and the EPA has specific requirements for maintaining these systems. These requirements affect service technicians, store owners, and some refrigerant retailers. Most of these requirements come from Section 609 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), while two additional sections of the CAA, 608 and 612, play smaller roles.

The EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, established under Section 612 of the CAA, classifies refrigerants for MVAC systems as “acceptable” (subject to conditions of use) or “unacceptable”. To prevent the accidental mixing of different refrigerants, each SNAP approved refrigerant must be used with a unique set of accessories. These accessories are attachment points on the car itself, on all recovery and recycling equipment, on can faucets and other charging equipment, and on all refrigerant containers. An adapter should not be used to convert an accessory.

Section 608 of the Clean Air Act prohibits the intentional release (ventilation) of any refrigerant when maintaining, repairing, or discarding air conditioning or refrigeration equipment, including MVAC systems. Technicians who repair or service MVAC systems must be certified under Section 609 of the CAA. They must also use refrigerant handling equipment that has been certified by the EPA or by an independent standards testing organization approved by the EPA to certify the equipment. New service shops or workshops servicing MVAC systems for the first time must certify to their regional EPA office that they have properly purchased and are using approved refrigerant handling equipment.

If a shop has certified the ownership of CFC-12 or HFC134a equipment at any time in the past, they are not required to resubmit the certification to the EPA when they purchase new equipment. This applies even if the shop purchases equipment for a different coolant, such as HFO-1234yf. Service shops must keep on-site records of the name and address of any facility to which they ship recovered refrigerant for a period of three years. When an MVAC system enters the waste stream, the last person in the disposal chain must dispose of the refrigerant or ensure that their customer has disposed of it before discarding it.

The service requirements for stationary refrigeration and air conditioning overlap between the regulations in Section 608 and Section 609. In cases where an old system lacks a disconnect box, security codes require a new one to be installed with the new air conditioner. There are specific installation guidelines for properly sizing and wiring the disconnection. The service valves also allow for outside isolation of the air conditioner condenser from its set of coils and interior pipes for future service or repair needs when necessary. With hoses still connected to its service valves, refrigerant is released into the system by first opening its suction side service valve and then its liquid side valve.

This breaks any vacuum present in the system.

Deborah Waisman
Deborah Waisman

Friendly travel guru. Award-winning tv expert. Total tv advocate. Devoted zombieaholic. General pop culture expert. Award-winning bacon junkie.