Wednesday, October 11, 2017

EPA Updates Its Refrigerant Management Regulations

HVAC technicians can expect to see stricter regulation over ozone-
depleting substances and HVAC certification next year.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its refrigerant management requirements. HVAC workers can expect to see stricter regulation in refrigerant sales, technician certification, recordkeeping, maintenance of refrigerant appliances, and disposal of refrigerant appliances.

Most of the new restrictions roll out January 1, 2018. The EPA hopes that stricter control refrigerants will protect the environment from greenhouse gas emissions. By specifically targeting ozone-depleting substances (ODS) such as chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), they estimate the updates will be equivalent to taking 1.5 million cars off the road.

Here's a breakdown of the coming changes made to Section 608 of the Clean Air Act:

Sales Restrictions:
  • As of January 1, 2017, recovered ODS and substitute refrigerants may not be resold unless they have been reclaimed by a certified reclaimer or are charged into equipment belonging to the same owner. 
  • As of January 1, 2018, the sale of ODS and substitute refrigerant is restricted to certified technicians.
Technician Certification Updates:
As of January 1, 2018 HVAC technicians must:
  • Pass a certification exam proctored by an approved certification program; the exam must be updated to reflect the new regulations and new refrigerants prior to this date.
  • Keep a copy of their certificate at their place of business.
  • Retain a copy of their certificate until three years after last working as a technician.
Recordkeeping Updates:
As of January 1, 2018, technicians who dispose of mid-sized appliances with 5 to 50 pounds of refrigerant must keep records of:
  • The location, date of recover, and type of refrigerant recovered for each disposed appliance.
  • The quantity of refrigerant, by type, recovered from disposed appliances in each calendar month.
  • The quantity and type of refrigerant transferred for reclamation of destruction, the person to whom it was transferred and date of transfer.
Maintenance and Disposal Updates:
As of January 1, 2018, technicians must:
  • Evacuate ODS or substitute refrigerants before opening or disposing of appliances to the levels specified in regulations, using certified recovery and/or recycling equipment
  • Before opening or disposing of Motor Vehicle Air Conditioning (MVAC) or MVAC-like appliances
    • Evacuate ODS or substitute refrigerant from the appliance in accordance with 40 CFR Part 82 Subpart B; or
    • Reduce the system pressure to below 102 mm of mercury vacuum
Leak Repair Regulations:
As of January 1, 2019:
  • Leak inspections are required for appliances that have exceeded the applicable leak rate. Technicians can review the leak rate schedule here. All visible and accessible components of leaking appliances must be inspected.
  • Initial and follow-up verification tests of leak repairs are required for appliances that exceed the applicable leak rate.
EPA predicts these changes will strengthen the current Section 608 program and reduce stress on our environment. With deadlines around the corner, HVAC workers should review these industry updates.

To read about the revised Section 608 Refrigerant Regulations, visit EPA. To learn more about Section 608 certification, visit Zack Academy.

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