New Refrigeration Rules May Provide Business Opportunities

by | Feb 23, 2017

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Now that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) final rule updating the requirements of its Section 608 Refrigerant Management Program has gone into effect, the agency is expecting both carbon dioxide emission and ozone-depleting releases to dramatically fall.

There are six major changes to the Section 608 requirements along with some additional requirements for technicians, according to the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association:

— It extends the requirements of the Refrigerant Management Program to cover substitute refrigerants, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Basically, technicians must handle HFC refrigerants and appliances containing HFC refrigerants in the same manner that they’ve handled ozone-depleting refrigerants and appliances;

— It reduces the leak rates thresholds that will cause repairs, meaning that they are stricter.

— It requires quarterly or annual leak inspections or continuous monitoring devices for refrigeration and air conditioning equipment that has exceeded the threshold leak rate;

— It requires owners/operators to submit reports to the EPA if their systems containing 50 pounds or more of refrigerant leak by more than 125 percent in a year;

— It extends the sales restriction to HFCs and other non-exempt substitutes of non-exempt substitutes for motor vehicle air conditioner servicing; and

— It requires technicians to keep a record of refrigerant recovered during system disposal from systems with a 5- to 50-pound charge size.

The record-keeping rules require technicians who disposed of mid-sized appliances to tell EPA where it put the appliances and the type of refrigerant recovered for each disposed appliance. Those particular rules go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

The association says that most significant change is that technicians must now handle HFC refrigerants and appliances in the same manner that they have done so for ozone-depleting refrigerants.

“Many of the changes are improvements to the existing regulation, which was passed in 1993,” said Bruce Campbell, national account manager for United Refrigeration Inc., in the piece written by the refrigeration association.

“The original rule was written to restrict the sale and usage of Class I and II refrigerants [ODSs such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)] to certified technicians. The word ‘substitute’ is the main difference between the old and new rule. Anyone seeking to purchase refrigerants after Jan. 1, 2018, will be required to show they are certified,” he added.

The good news, he went on to tell the association, is that the rules may provide business opportunities.

“The new rule provides contractors and technicians with tools that can be used to create long-term business relationships,” Campbell told the association. “By identifying leaks and leak rates, technicians can offer real cost-saving solutions to their customers.”

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