Well folks the do-it-yourselfer air conditioning repairman will be quickly coming to a close at the end of this year. No more novices trying to ‘recharge’ their system. No more guys just dumping more refrigerant in. Well, we can at least hope so…unless these guys have a friend in the business. Some of the techs and contractors out there will rejoice at this news but others will be groaning again at more government regulation control. What side of the fence are you on?
Starting on January 1st, 2018 the same refrigerant sales restriction that applies to the CFC and HCFC refrigerants on the market today are now going to be applied to the HFC refrigerants. HFC refrigerants are the most commonly used refrigerants in the market today and include R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. Chances are your home air conditioner is using an HFC refrigerant as I write this.
I believe everyone saw that this change was coming but no one knew exactly when. Honestly, I don’t know when the ruling was made by the EPA, or if it was even announced, but I make a habit of checking their website and reading through their regulations. I noticed the change and thought I would spread the word before we hit the deadline. Below is an excerpt from the EPA’s website. You can click here as well to go straight to their site.
Starting on January 1, 2018, the requirements discussed on this page will also apply to most substitute refrigerants, including HFCs.
This sales restriction, just like the previous ones, covers cylinders, cans, drums, or totes of HFC refrigerants. The only exception to this is are the small cans of R-134a refrigerant that contain two pounds or less. This exception is there to still allow do-it-yourselfers to repair their car’s air conditioning system. So, the EPA allows the homeowner in his garage to dump 134a into his car but they do not allow that same guy to dump pounds of 410A into his three ton home unit. In their defense though, 410A is a lot more dangerous than 134a.
If you are a wholesaler of refrigerant then you will need to keep records of every transaction which include the name of the purchaser, the date of the sale, the customer’s address and contact information, the type of refrigerant purchased, and the quantity of refrigerant cylinders. As a wholesaler you are legally responsible for these records and to discern rather your customer is legally able to purchase refrigerant. (Are they 608 or 609 certified?) This is the same process when selling customers CFCs or HCFCs and to be honest I’m sure most wholesalers are obtaining this information already on HFCs just to be safe so there really won’t be much change for them.
Some of you may be asking why this change will be implemented in 2018. While the restriction is still similar to the previous ones on CFCs and HCFCs the reason is quite different. On the past refrigerants such as R-12 or R-22 they were put in place due to their Chlorine content. The Chlorine in these refrigerants were found to be damaging the O-Zone layer of the atmosphere. Each time a refrigerant was leaked or vented into the atmosphere it caused damage. It got to a point where a hole began to form and a global regulations were formed to prevent it from happening again.
HFC refrigerants are a different story. Instead of them containing Chlorine the problem is their greenhouse gases and each HFC’s Global Warming Potential, or GWP. GWP is a measurement of the greenhouse gas emissions that a product releases. It is measured by using the control of Carbon Dioxide. Carbon Dioxide has a GWP of 1. Whereas R-134a has a GWP of 1,430. So, you can begin to see the problem. R-134a has over fourteen-hundred times the GWP of Carbon Dioxide. Each time an HFC refrigerant is vented or accidentally released into the atmosphere it actively contributes to Global Warming.
In conclusion if you are already a tech or a mechanic who works on air conditioning machines and are already 608 or 609 certified then you have nothing to worry about. However, if you were buying HFC refrigerant this year, for whatever reason, and you are not certified then you will find that you will not be able to purchase next year without being certified. Well, you shouldn’t be able to. You may still have some vendors who don’t ask for 608 or 609 numbers before selling but I can assure you that after some time they will learn from their mistakes. Trust me, you don’t want to be on the EPA’s bad side.
For more information on obtaining a 608 or a 609 certification either ask your employer or click the links below. The thing to keep in mind is that if you are going to be working on stationary units like a home air conditioner, a supermarket freezer, or a commercial roof unit then you will need to be 608 certified. However, if you are a mechanic and will only be dealing with R-12, R-134a, and 1234YF then all you need is a 609 cert.
Lastly, if you are wanting to purchase some HFC refrigerants and you are not certified then I highly recommend visiting our store pages below and buying some product today. Also, if you’re interested in bulk purchasing click here to fill out a contact form that we will forward on to a national refrigerant distributor.
Thanks for reading and I hope that I was able to help.
Alec John Johnson