• SkillCat Team

Venting Prohibition

Updated: 3 days ago

EPA 608 Core Chapter 5 (Take full course for free)

In this module, we will walk through what venting is and discuss the venting prohibition included in the Clean Air Act. Skip to quiz!

1. Venting Refrigerants

Venting refers to the release of refrigerants into the atmosphere.

The Clean Air Act states that it is a violation to purposely vent refrigerants that deplete ozone. Recall that this is because the ozone layer is essential in protecting humans from harmful UV rays.

Specifically, it is illegal to knowingly vent CFCs, HCFCs, and their substitutes (including HFCs) into the atmosphere.

To prevent venting, technicians must follow all proper procedures during

- Servicing

- Maintaining

- Repairing, and

- Disposing of

appliances with these refrigerants.

If a technician purposely vents these refrigerants, they are subject to fines and criminal prosecution. As of 2017, penalties for venting include a fine of up to $44,539 per day per violation.

For example, this means that with two violations over three days, you can be fined up to $267,234!

The EPA offers an award of up to $10,000 to individuals who supply information against a technician who deliberately vents. So, if you come across any violations, do contact the EPA.

2. Prevent Venting

Recall that recovering means to capture the refrigerant in a separate storage cylinder.

In order to not vent affected refrigerants, it is necessary to recover refrigerants before servicing or disposing of equipment that contains those refrigerants. This is to prevent any loss of refrigerant stored in the equipment during servicing or disposal.

At the end of recovery service, technicians need to make sure that there is no liquid refrigerant trapped in the service hose. Any refrigerant trapped in the hose will be vented and this is not allowed under the Venting Prohibition.

Venting does not include losses of refrigerant during routine handling and service, provided that equipment has all appropriate low loss fittings.

If refrigerant is released because your equipment does not have low loss fittings, this is illegal venting.

In addition, you must also evacuate refrigerant to a required evacuation level while servicing equipment that contains the affected refrigerants. This also prevents venting. If you do not perform this step, this is also considered illegal venting under the CAA.

And lastly, when leak checking an appliance, never add pressurized nitrogen to a fully charged appliance. This will contaminate the refrigerant in the system and make make it impossible to reclaim.

In addition, if there is a leak, pressurizing a leaking system with refrigerant inside will only vent the refrigerant still left inside. Imagine a water balloon with a hole. If you add water to the balloon using a high pressure garden hose, the water will spill faster from the balloon.

To prevent from illegal venting, you must first recover and evacuate the appliance to required levels. This applies to appliances that are fully charged or even partially charged. As long as there is some refrigerant left in the system, you must recover it before leak testing.

3. De Minimis

What if small amounts of refrigerant are released accidentally during servicing? There is a rule with an exception to the regulation called the ‘de minimis rule’ for this purpose.

De minimis means something is too insignificant to be considered or is too small in amount to lack importance. De minimis provides for conditions out of the technician’s control that are true accidents.

De minimis refers to release of substances during good faith attempts to recapture, recycle, or safely dispose of refrigerants. This rule only applies if technicians have taken all necessary precautions and followed proper servicing protocol.

De minimis release includes:

- Catastrophic equipment failure

- Accidental release with timely repair of appliances

- Releases when connecting or disconnecting hoses to charge or service appliances. (Equipment must be equipped with low loss fittings for this to apply.)

4. Exemptions

The EPA exempts refrigerants from the venting prohibition when it has determined that these refrigerants do not post a threat to the environment.

Natural refrigerants are exempt from the regulations of venting prohibition. This means that they can be vented.

Natural refrigerants can be vented because they do not cause damage to the ozone layer.

Natural refrigerants include:

- R-290 (propane)

- R-600a (isobutane)

- R-717 (ammonia)

- R-728 (nitrogen)

- R-744 (carbon dioxide)

These refrigerants are substances naturally found in the world around us. Carbon dioxide and nitrogen, for example, are gases that are found naturally in the atmosphere.

5. Conclusion

In this module, we discussed the venting prohibition portion of the Clean Air Act. The venting prohibition applies to all refrigerants that deplete ozone, as well as their substitutes.

The purpose of the venting prohibition is to prevent these harmful chemicals from being released into the atmosphere and destroying ozone.

Question #1: Which of the following are violations of the CAA Venting Prohibition? (Select all that apply)

  1. Release of refrigerants because appliances were not recovered

  2. Releasing isobutane while servicing equipment

  3. Releasing HFC refrigerant because of catastrophic equipment failure

  4. Refrigerants released when disconnecting non low-loss hoses to service an appliance

Scroll down for the answer...

1 and 4 are violations of the venting prohibition.

Isobutane is exempted because it is a natural refrigerant and does not deplete ozone and Catastrophic failure of equipment is covered under de minimis, as long as all proper procedures were followed.

Question #2: Which of the following refrigerants does the Venting Prohibition cover?

  1. CFCs and HCFCs

  2. CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs

  3. CFCs and natural refrigerants

  4. All natural refrigerants

Scroll down for the answer...

The CAA Venting Prohibition extends to all ozone depleting refrigerants and their substitutes. This include CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs.

Question #3: The Venting Prohibition requires that you recover affected refrigerant before (Select all that apply)

  1. Opening equipment

  2. Servicing equipment

  3. Disposing of equipment

  4. Manufacturing equipment

Scroll down for the answer...

It is necessary to recover refrigerant before opening, servicing, or disposing of refrigerant. This prevents venting of refrigerant.

Question #4: Which of the following are considered de minimis releases of refrigerant? (Select all that apply)

  1. HCFCs released when disconnecting hoses equipped with low loss fittings

  2. Release of carbon dioxide with low loss fittings

  3. Release of HFCs due to catastrophic failure of equipment

  4. None of the above

Scroll down for the answer...

2 is incorrect because carbon dioxide can be vented under the venting prohibition exemption. Release of carbon dioxide is allowed. The other two are examples of de minimis releases.

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