Defining ‘Servicing' of R-22 Units

February 1, 2010
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What constitutes the “servicing” of existing HCFC-22 equipment according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that took effect Jan. 1 continue to create “the biggest outstanding questions we have had,” said Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International’s (HARDI’s) Talbot Gee.

HARDI has been working “with EPA staff to provide clarity and certainty for HVACR distributors and contractors regarding what would be considered ‘servicing’ after Jan. 1, 2010, as defined in the recently finalized two HCFC regulations,” Gee said. He also noted HARDI has been providing an ongoing Q&A section at its Website (www.hardinet.org).

DEFINING SERVICING

In regards to the servicing issue, this is the statement HARDI has provided:

“HARDI has received EPA confirmation that multiple component replacements of an existing R-22 air conditioning or refrigeration system as required by proper installation practices is considered servicing after Jan. 1, 2010, and virgin R-22 can be used to complete such servicing. Primarily to avoid the installation of mismatched condensing units and coils, HARDI pushed for this important EPA clarification so contractors can legally replace multiple components as required to achieve a 13 SEER or greater stated efficiency while servicing an existing R-22 air conditioning system. While the EPA does not go into such detail, they did update their Rules Overview and FAQ pages to reflect these changes.

“Additionally, HARDI received EPA confirmation that they do not intend to hold HVACR distributors liable for R-22 equipment that is purchased by contractors and installed in nonexempt new construction applications (which are prohibited by the new regulations). However, EPA advises HVACR distributors to remind contractors purchasing R-22 components such as condensing units, coils, and line sets that they can only be used for servicing purposes, unless for a new construction project permitted prior to Jan. 1, 2010.”

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Some of the questions HARDI has been dealing with and its responses include:

Q. Can new commercial refrigeration condensing units, usually sold without a pre-charge of R-22, manufactured before or after Jan. 1, 2010, be charged on-site with virgin R-22?

A. The date of manufacture is not a factor for non-pre-charged components such as these - components that are not pre-charged with R-22 (i.e., carrying only a holding charge of an inert substance like nitrogen) - and used for servicing an existing system can be charged on-site with virgin R-22, but not if being used for a new installation or expansion of an existing system.

Q. How will these regulations be enforced?

A. The EPA has a separate enforcement division that responds to complaints and takes enforcement actions. Civil penalties, such as fines up to $37,500 per offense, and criminal penalties, such as imprisonment, can be levied by the EPA for illegal venting, illegal production or importation of HCFC substances, and violations of the new ban on the sale or distribution of pre-charged appliances.

Q. Does the limited two-year exemption for new construction projects apply to quoted items?

A. No. This limited exemption applies only to new construction or expansion projects requiring the installation of a new air conditioning or refrigeration system that was permitted and procured prior to Jan. 1, 2010, and completed on or before Dec. 31, 2011. For example, a new residential development is permitted in 2009 with R-22 air conditioning equipment specified and indoor equipment is installed, but the outdoor units remain in inventory until the home sells. As long as the home sells (i.e., project is completed) prior to Dec. 31, 2011, the R-22 system’s installation can be completed after Jan. 1, 2010, using virgin R-22.

Q. How do PTACs (packaged units) factor into these regulations?

A. PTACs, which are pre-charged and completed by the OEM, are considered appliances, meaning they have completed refrigerant circuits and are ready for their intended use. On or after Jan. 1, 2010, these kinds of appliances can no longer be manufactured with virgin or reclaimed R-22, R-142b, or any blend thereof. PTACs manufactured before that date can continue to be sold and installed until inventories are exhausted.

For more information, HARDI has prepared exclusively for its distributor members a Fact Sheet and complete FAQ list that could both be branded by distributor members and made available to their customers. HARDI also produced a Presenter’s PowerPoint complete with speaker notes to enable distributor personnel to host contractor training sessions on these new regulations.

Publication date: 02/01/2010

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