The Impact of the Clean Air Act on Heating and Cooling Systems

October 17, 2018 8:04 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Federal regulations over the years have had a big effect on the heating and cooling industry. Today, all HVAC contractors in Bridgeport, CT must be familiar with the stipulations of the Clean Air Act, as well as other federal regulations put in place by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce the use of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-based ozone depleting systems frequently used in HVAC appliances.

The section of the Clean Air Act that specifically refers to the HVAC industry encourages developing more ozone-friendly substitutes for some of the chemicals that contain chlorine, which can destroy the ozone.

The most common type of chemical refrigerant that’s been used in HVAC applications over the last 40-odd years is R-22. It is especially frequently used in heat pumps and air conditioner condensing units to help regulate the heating and cooling of homes. There are alternative refrigerants, however, that have even more ozone-friendly properties, including R-410A. These are called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Even though there was already a trend toward substituting CFCs with substances in the HFC category that do not cause the same amount of damage to the atmosphere, that has not stopped the EPA from adding more regulations in recent years. In 2016, for example, the EPA expanded the regulations affecting the HVAC industry by requiring technicians and installers working with HFC-based refrigerants to have certain certifications. This created results such as:

  • Restricting the sale of HFCs only to technicians who have the proper certifications to sell and install them
  • Including HFCs on the Section 608 certification exams required for many HVAC technicians
  • Requiring the use of evacuation equipment certified for the purpose of draining HFC systems at the same standards as CFC evacuations
  • Expanding and updating some of the rules in place regarding recordkeeping for system disposal

The agency has also been looking at implementing more rules in 2019, specifically regarding leak inspection and verification requirements. As the years go on, we can expect to see even more changes in federal rules for handling potentially hazardous or otherwise environmentally sensitive refrigerant gases. We have seen some significant decreases in the amount of available R-22, and by 2020 the use of R-22 will be phased out entirely. This is significant when you consider the fact that there were 55 million pounds of R-22 sold as recently as 2014—the regulations put in place on the usage and sale of R-22 were quite strict. Even some of the more popular alternatives, like R-410 and R-404, are going to become quite rare as well, as they have their own phase-out date of 2024.

Clearly, there is a lot to keep track of in the HVAC industry regarding federal regulations, but this is one of the reasons why you work with professionals—so you have a team of people who know these issues, and so you don’t have to stay on top of all of them yourself.

For more information about HVAC systems and how the shift to R-410A might impact you, contact a team of HVAC contractors in Bridgeport, CT.

Categorised in:

This post was written by Writer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *