Refrigerant Questions Answered

Are CFC’s (Chlorofluorocarbons) Illegal?

No. It is perfectly legal to buy, sell or possess CFC’s. However, It is highly illegal to import, or manufacture CFC’s. Customs officials are well versed in CFC smuggling. The existing 1995 stockpile of CFC’s within the United States has been sold, bought, cleaned, repackaged and sold again frequently.

I have an old system which has not run for years. What kind of gas is in it and how much gas does it contain?


If you are lucky, you will find a metal plate attached to the unit which states how many pounds of what gas is a full charge. If the plate only tells you a “ton” rating of the chiller, a rule of thumb is to multiply the ton rating by 2.6 to get the pounds of a full charge. For example, a 500 ton unit should contain about 2.6 x 500 = 1,300 pounds.

Without a plate at all, you need to contact a local mechanical contractor, preferably, the one who serviced the unit for the last 10 years. If you can find this contractor, your information is a phone call away. If not, than what brand of chiller is it? If it is a Trane, then call the local Trane dealer with the model number.

After you find this information out, don’t count on the volume poundage to be accurate. It will be the full charge or something less. If the system has not run for a period of time, it will be substantially less.



I pulled out some gas from a chiller and want to install it into another system. Can I do that?


Once gas has been removed from a system, it is legally required to be purified to ARI-700 specifications before placed back into service. The only exception is when both systems are located at the same facility. In such a case, it is still not wise, as the increased electrical cost to operate an inefficient system would far outweigh the cost of cleaning your dirty gas.



We are evaluating the choice of purchasing a new HVAC system, or milking along the old one which uses CFC’s. Will the CFC’s still be available in coming years?


Yes, I am sure R-12 will always be available; however, it might cost $200 per pound. CFC supply shortages will most likely accelerate as many CFC’s are being burned to generate carbon credits. What you should also be concerned with, is the savings in your company’s electric bill over the next 10 years operating the newer more efficient system.

I have a system running on R-22. I heard they are phasing that gas out. Will it still be available later?


  Yes, you are correct. The USEPA is severely limiting the production and importation of R-22, which has caused the priced to go through the roof. Each year the amount of R-22 is being cut. About 50% of all residential currently in operation use R-22. The HCFC R-22 of today is the CFC R-12 of 1994: Still somewhat reasonably priced, but about to become scarce and very expensive.


I have a brand new system I am evacuating. I am sure the gas we pull out will meet ARI-700 standards.


  No, it won’t. When an HVAC system is charged, oil is added to make the system operate more efficiently. Even if no oil was added, ARI-700 standards have limitations on the amount of air contaminating refrigerant gas. It is difficult to evacuate gas from a system without contamination it with air.



I just got sprayed in the face with Freon while using an Ice pick to defrost my freezer. Should I go to the hospital?


  Refrigerant Supply gets this phone call about once a month. While liability concerns do not allow for a definitive answer here, allow me to make a few statements for you to make your own judgment:

  • Most refrigerant gas (particularly in consumer products) is non-toxic.

  • Various refrigerant gases are used to charge MDI’s (meter dose inhalers), and computer keyboard cleaners.

  • Refrigerant Gases are considered hazardous if released in confined spaces or non-ventilated areas. This is because a large amount of refrigerant gas will displace the oxygen causing asphyxia.