Vehicle air conditioner servicing

Refrigerants must be captured and not knowingly released into the atmosphere.

Equipment

All equipment that recovers or recycles CFC-12 refrigerant or substitute refrigerants such as R-134a or HFO-1234yf from motor vehicle air conditioners (MVACs), must be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) or an approved equipment testing organization such as Underwriters Laboratory or ETL Testing Laboratories, Inc. The equipment must be designed to recover and/or recycle a specific refrigerant. Two types of equipment are acceptable:

  1. Recover only equipment. Recovers refrigerant from MVACs, but does not clean the refrigerant. Refrigerant extracted by recover only equipment must be recycled on-site using approved equipment owned by the same person or sent to a U.S. EPA-approved reclaimer prior to reuse.
  2. Recover and recycle equipment. Recovers refrigerant from MVACs and processes the refrigerant to purity levels specified by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Refrigerant recycled using approved equipment is suitable for reuse in MVACs provided the refrigerant is added by the same facility that recovered it.

Technician certification

Persons who service MVACs must possess technician certification. "Servicing" is any activity during which refrigerant could be expected to be released to the atmosphere. This includes repairing, leak testing, "topping-off," and any dismantling of the air conditioning system. Technician certification can be attained by successfully completing an online exam from a U.S. EPA approved certification program. A list of these programs is available through the U.S. EPA.

Refrigerant leaks

The MPCA and the U.S. EPA do not require that leaks be repaired on MVACs; however we recommend that vehicle owners consider repairing leaks or retrofitting to a safer alternative to reduce emissions.

Managing your refrigerant

The sign must read:

"It is a violation of federal law to sell containers of Class I or Class II refrigerant of less than 20 pounds of such refrigerant to anyone who is not properly trained and certified to operate approved refrigerant recycling equipment."

  • Sales restrictions: Refrigerant made of CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs  can only be sold to certified technicians, buyers that employ at least one certified technical, or certified wholesalers or appliance manufacturers for eventual resale . Refrigerant in self-sealing "small cans" containing less than 2 pounds of refrigerant are exempt from this sales restriction and any reporting requirements. . Anyone selling refrigerant must verify that the buyer is properly certified and post a sign that explains the sales restrictions.
  • Avoid mixing refrigerants:
    • Store different types of refrigerant (i.e., R-12, R-134a, and refrigerant blends) in their own Department of Transportation approved cylinders
    • Always read refrigerant labels carefully.

Record keeping

Records

Who's responsible

What to do with it

MVAC recover/recycle or recover equipment certification form

Anyone servicing MVACs.

Send it to the U.S. EPA address indicated on the form.

Reclamation facility name and address

Anyone sending recovered refrigerant off-site for reclamation.

Keep it on-site at the service facility for 3 years.

Verification that all persons operating recover/recycle or recover equipment are certified.

Anyone servicing MVACs.

Keep it on-site at the service facility for 3 years.

Purchasers' names, date of sales, and quantities of refrigerant.

Anyone selling containers of refrigerant for resale.

Keep this information on-site for 3 years.

2016 extension of Section 608 regulations to HFCs

In 2016, the US Environmental Protection issued final rules under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act that updated then existing requirements related to ozone depleting substances, such as CFCs and HCFCs, and extended them to substitutes like HFCs, perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs). Under these rule revisions, technicians must handle HFC, PFC and HFO refrigerants and appliances that contain HFC, PFC and HFO refrigerants in the same manner that they historically have handled ozone-depleting substances and appliances that contain ozone depleting substances.

Certification form

PDF icon Motor Vehicle Air Conditioning Recovery/ Recycle or Recovery Equipment Certification Form & Instructions