How One Contractor Deals With Recovery
March 9, 2009
Recovery and on-site recycling of refrigerants has been around for more than two decades and used by contractors almost since day one. But while the recovery of refrigerant and then sending it to an off-site reclamation site has been in the equation for almost as long, it has only been in recent years that contractors have begun to embrace that reclamation option.
Part of that has been due to the reclamation sector establishing itself at a slower pace than recovery/recycle and the need for reclaim incentives - both financial and governmental. Favret Heating and Cooling, Columbus, Ohio, is one contractor who has been utilizing recovery and reclamation. Its story can illustrate some of the challenges and opportunities.
RECOVERYWhen Favret Heating and Cooling first began to recover refrigerant, it used recovery machines that contained an internal compressor and separate filter pack. This method allowed technicians to recover and filter refrigerant for reuse in the same system.
Initial investment was over $30,000, which helped decide the price of the process for the consumer.
“We are not afraid to invest in technology when we believe it could provide a payback or help improve our services,” said Phil Favret, vice president and partial owner. “I remember wrestling with the issue of how to charge customers in a way we could recover from our investment. We initially charged a flat fee plus labor, but quickly moved to charging per pound of refrigerant recovered.”
When the company began recovering refrigerant, a letter was sent to customers explaining the new EPA guidelines, along with an overview of the recovery process.
When asked what the company’s motivations were behind refrigeration recovery, Favret said, “It is the right thing to do for the environment, and we want to follow the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.”
RECLAIMFor reclamation, each of the company’s service trucks now has two 50-pound recovery jugs, one for R-22 and one for R-410A. Once the recovery jugs are full, the dealer exchanges them for empty jugs at a wholesaler location. In turn, the wholesaler submits the recovered refrigerant for reclamation.
(The approach Favret has taken is one of several options offered within the industry. The Dec. 1, 2008 issue of The NEWS, as well as this issue of The NEWS in the article “Refrigerant Talk Urges Reclaim,” look at those range of options in more detail.)
SECURITY COSTSThe investment in recovery equipment and other tools, along with rising costs of refrigerants, has raised yet another consideration for contractors. And that deals with the break-ins of service trucks.
After several such instances, Favret added external locks and security precautions to its vans, as well as surveillance cameras to its fenced parking lot. Although pricey for the company, the added security has resulted in reduced break-ins.
Favret said they had to take all recovery machines off service vans in the winter and lock them in the warehouse until needed. The company has not experienced any more robberies of its recovery systems.
COPING HELPIn coping with all the challenges of these changing technologies and times, Favret said it is important for a contractor to rely on industry contacts both through trade associations and manufacturers.
For example, he said he receives advice from fellow members of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). “My ACCA mixed group was a great sounding board and counsel on refrigerant handling.” Favret is also a former president of Central Ohio ACCA.
The company is also a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer and has been so for the past 49 years of its 85-year history. It earned Carrier Distinguished Dealer Awards in 1996 and 1999 and a President’s Award in 2008.
For Favret, all that is a two-way street. Such recognitions demonstrate a close relationship with a manufacturer who helps keep Favret up to speed on the ever-changing technologies.
Publication date: 03/09/2009