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freon laws in PA

Is the system hermetically sealed (a window unit), a residential split system or a commercial system? If the system is a commercial unit, how much refrigerant is it designed to hold?


  • thfurnitureguy_4thfurnitureguy_4 Member Posts: 398
    freon laws in PA

    Can anybody tell me if it is unlawful to fill an old AC system with freon to test the system and compressor? This is in PA. Thank you. Please just the legal stuff.
  • thfurnitureguy_4thfurnitureguy_4 Member Posts: 398

    I was told that it was unlawful to fill a system with freon without finding and repairing any leaks. My system was repaired by another company that filled it, let it run for a week and came back pumped it down and repaired the leaks after it had time to run. (it had not run in years and the system was suspect.) It seemed to make sense to test the compressor and such before spending the dime on leaks.

    I received a bill from the first company that refused to test the compressor with out first fixing the possible leaks. I will pay his bill also if there is a law that dictates this course of repair. it just seemed at the time rather silly to spend close to $1000. before you know if you have a working compressor.
  • Eugene SilbersteinEugene Silberstein Member Posts: 1,380
    Which brings me back....

    to my orogonal question. If the system is a commercial unit, there are laws regarding the acceptable leak rate of refrigerant from the system. This leak rate depends on the application as wel as the amount of refrigerant the system contains.

    If the system is a residential split-type air conditioner, there is no law that mandates that leaks must be located and repaired. However, as set forth by Section 608 in the Clean Air Act, technicians must make a "good faith" effort to locate and repair all leaks. If the system in question falls into this catagory and this system is completely void of refrigerant, the leak is large enough that it should definitely be relatively easy to locate.

    Now, as far as using refrigerant for leak detection puposes, this a big NO NO. A trace of R-22 can be added to a charge of dry nitrogen for leak detection purposes and then, this mixture can be released to the atmosphere. One cannot simply charge a system with R-22 and then release the refrigerant to the atmosphere saying that it was for leak detection purposes.

    Soooooooo... Getting bak to my original question, is your system a residential split system or is it a commercial system? By the way, these laws are Federal and are the same no matter where in this fine land you are located.

    Hope this helps.
  • thfurnitureguy_4thfurnitureguy_4 Member Posts: 398

    This was on a commercial building with an old system that cools about 6000 sq ft. I have no idea how much freon was used to fill the system and it was flat when they arrived. Was my request to test the compressor and run the system un-reasonable and placing his company at risk? What would have been the acceptable practice to check out the system?
  • Eugene SilbersteinEugene Silberstein Member Posts: 1,380
    Leaks Must be Repaired

    If it is a commercial system the leak must be repaired. Assuning that the system holds less than 50 pounds of refrigerant, an annual leak rate of 15% is acceptable. Any leak rate greater than 15% per year requires that all leaks be located and repaired.

    The only electrical component in the active refrigerant circuit is the compressor and the contractor could peform a closed loop test on the compressor as an isolated component to determine if it is functioning properly.

    If it is determined that the compressor is operating properly, any other mechanical or electrical components such as fan motors and metering devices can be evaluated and repaired or replaced as needed.
  • thfurnitureguy_4thfurnitureguy_4 Member Posts: 398

    Is it reasonable that a 2 man crew could perform these tests within an hours time. Knowing that it was an accesable roof top unit? Is there a flat rate time for such tests?
  • Eugene SilbersteinEugene Silberstein Member Posts: 1,380
    I Cannot Even Begin

    to discuss the pricing practices of companies as there are as many pricing strategies as there are companies.

    Although there may be flat rate pricing guidelines, every job is different and not every job site is located within a reasonable distance from the comapny's home port.

    The answer to your question is.... It Depends.

    The best way to avoid an awkward situation is to ask the company for thie pricing policies before any work is done.

    As far as the time required to perform a closed loop test on a compressor depends on a number of factors including the type, manufacturer, number of heads on the compressor and service valve accessibility. It would be completely unfair for me to estimate how long such a test should take wothout having first seen the equipment.

    Not to be sarcastic at all, but how long does it take a painter to paint a room? It depends on the painter, how much furniture is there, how many coats are goingt to be applied and the size of the room, right?

    In hindsight, I would speak to the first contractor and see if you are able to reach common ground as far as the bill goes. Unfortunately, if you don't ask upfront, the situation becomes rough.

    An earlier thread discusses contractors making certain thatthey dscuss all charges before starting work to avoid such confusion.

    Good luck and let us know how things turn out.

    The Prof.
  • thfurnitureguy_4thfurnitureguy_4 Member Posts: 398

    I see your point. I guess this all falls in to the gray area. I find it odd that 2 companies would come and inspect the same system. One doing what the law dictates, and talking himself out of doing a repair job by the involved process and expence of it. The other doing what made common sence, repairing the system, and leaving with a check and a good recomendation. As a consumer it was much easyer to make the leap for repair when ice cold air was blowing out of my ducts. The first guy only offered more hot air and 6 months later presents me with a bill for his failure. If I understand you correctly, it would appear that, the guy that failed to repair the system was in the right?
  • Eugene SilbersteinEugene Silberstein Member Posts: 1,380
    Sounds Funny...

    It does sound funny when you put it that way, but yes... to a certain degree.

    If the first company was at your location for the first time, how would he know that the system had a leak that was large enough to warrant a mandatory repair? If the system only lost, let's say 5 percent of its charge on an annual basis and a good-faith attempt had been made to locate and repair the leak, then you would not have been obligated to incur the expense of locating and repairing the leak.

    Systems lose a small amount of refrigerant when gauges are installed and removed during normal preventive maintenance and periodic system servicing. If the system holds a relatively small charge, over time system performance can be compromised to some degree. Now, let's say that the system works fine with a low charge during mild weather but fails to operate satisfactorily on a very hot day. You call for service and the technician tells you that the refrigerant charge is low and he needs to add a couple of pounds of refrigerant to the system. Is there a leak? no. Does the technician know this? Probably not.

    But, then again, this statement is being made under a number of assumptions, one of which being that the leak rate is small and the contractor had no prior experience with your equipment.

    More than likely, you would not have had to call in a second contractor if all of the "what-ifs" were addressed prior to the commencement of work, or lack thereof.

    Sorry to hear you had a rough time, but I guarantee that this will not happen again.

    All the best and thanks for posting.
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