Refrigerant Use and Handling


All University of Chicago and University of Chicago Medicine's departments involved in the purchasing and handling of refrigerants for use in an appliance shall adhere to the requirements stated in this policy.

Under the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Act, Section 608, EPA has established regulations in 40 CFR Part 82, Subpart F.  The applicable regulations are also summarized in the campus's Title V Clean Air Act Permit.

Equipment containing refrigerant should be installed and maintained per the City of Chicago Municipal Code, Chapter 18 Section 28.

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Authority and Responsibility

Facilities Services and Physical Plant Supervisors shall be responsible for the following:

  • Maintaining an inventory of all refrigerant-containing equipment/appliances.
  • Maintaining current records in the Refrigerant Management Book;
  • Ensuring the proper use of all refrigerants by certified technicians;
  • Informing Mostardi Platt if a leak from a unit will exceed 30 days;
  • Procuring refrigerant as needed;
  • Maintaining a Type IV Universal Technician Certification; and
  • Ensuring at least two building engineers maintain a Type IV Universal Technician Certification.

Facilities Services Engineers and Physical Plants Engineers listed as Certified Technicians shall be responsible for the following:

  • Creating refrigerant service and usage records in the shop’s Refrigerant Management Book;
  • Conducting leak rate calculations as applicable;
  • Informing Mostardi Platt when units are replaced, renovated or the refrigerant type changes;
  • Informing their Supervisor if a leak may exceed the 30 day limit for corrective action;
  • Maintaining a Type IV Universal Technician Certification; and
  • Following all policies and procedures for the safe use and handling of refrigerants.

Facilities Services Capital Program Development and University of Chicago Medicine's Construction and Design groups shall be responsible for the following:

  • Updating Mostardi Platt when new refrigerant-containing equipment is being removed or installed as part of a renovation and/or demolition; 
  • Ensuring that any units containing refrigerants that may be impacted by construction/renovation are purged, moved, and recharged in line with the applicable regulations.

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The procurement of all refrigerants shall be the responsibility of the supervisor. All supervisors shall maintain a Type IV Universal Technician Certification. Purchases of refrigerants shall be made with the use of the supervisor’s certificate number. Engineer’s certificate numbers shall not be used to purchase refrigerants.

All refrigerants shall be purchased from one of the following approved vendors:

  • GW Berkheimer;
  • Harry Alter;
  • Grainger; or
  • Illco, Inc. (Formerly Illinois Supply).

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Inventory and Storage

All orders of refrigerant shall be delivered to Central Inventory located at the Facilities Services building. Facilities Services supervisors shall be notified when their shipment arrives. Refrigerant shall not be released by Central Inventory until a refrigerant tracking sheet has been given to them indicating the use of the last bottle of refrigerant. 

Install proper ventilation and if necessary oxygen monitors in areas where large quantities of refrigerant will be stored. 

Physical Plant engineers must follow their facility specific procurement practices to properly order and track refrigerant usage.

The equipment inventory records must contain:

  • Location of unit (building)
  • Asset number of unit (maximo bar-code or client service management system)
  • Refrigerant type (Non-regulated refrigerant. Always check the EPA website for the most up-to-date information.)
  • Charge (over 50 pounds or under 50 pounds)
  • Use (Comfort cooling, process, industrial, other)

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All shops shall maintain a Refrigerant Management Book. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to ensure the refrigerant books are being maintained properly by certified technicians.  The work conducted by outside contractors must be captured in the refrigerant management book.

Refrigerant cylinders shall be weighed upon receiving a new shipment, prior to and after each use. All usage records shall be maintained in the Refrigerant Management Book.

Each refrigerant cylinder shall have a tracking sheet that stays with the cylinder. After the completion of the refrigerant from the cylinder, the tracking sheet shall be submitted to the supervisor for inclusion in the Refrigerant Management Book.

At a minimum, service records must contain: (See reference document Refrigerant Management - Recordkeeping Guide)

  • Date of service
  • Technician or contractor name
  • Quantity and type of refrigerant added, recycled, or removed
  • Description of services provided
  • Leak repair procedure
  • Leak testing method and results

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Recovery from Window Air Conditioning Units and Refrigerators

Refrigerants shall be recovered from all window air conditioning units and refrigerators prior to their disposal. All refrigerant recovered from window air conditioning units and refrigerators shall be tested utilizing an acid test kit prior to recovery of the refrigerant. Refrigerant that does not pass the acid test shall be filtered using filter dryers to remove the acid and other impurities. Refrigerant shall be repeatedly filtered until it passes the acid test. Non-contaminated refrigerant shall be stored in a recovery cylinder until that cylinder is full.

Refrigerant that does not pass the acid test shall be disposed of as a contaminated refrigerant in an appropriate labeled container. Non-contaminated refrigerant shall be stored in a recovery cylinder until that cylinder is full.

Recovery from Systems with Greater than Fifty Pounds of Refrigerant

The recovery of refrigerant from systems that have greater than fifty pounds of refrigerant shall be done by a properly certified contractor. 

Recovery from a Disabled System

When disabling a system, all refrigerant shall be recovered by a certified technician prior to disposal.

Recovery from Equipment Burnout

All refrigerant recovered from equipment that is burnout shall be considered contaminated and shall be filtered using filter dryers until it passes the acid test and is no longer contaminated. Contaminated refrigerant shall not be mixed with non-contaminated refrigerant.

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Engineers who perform maintenance, service, repair or disposal of systems or appliances that could be reasonably expected to release refrigerants into the atmosphere shall maintain an USEPA Type IV Universal Technician certification. Technicians shall keep proof of certification readily available for inspection.

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Supervisors shall maintain proper equipment necessary to perform tasks related to the recovery and use of refrigerants. Such equipment shall include: hoses with shut off valves, electronic scales, acid test kits, reclaiming machine, Department of Transportation (DOT) tanks for each refrigerant used and a tank designated for contaminated refrigerant. All reclaiming machines shall be purged with nitrogen before each use to prevent the contamination of refrigerants.

All systems shall have color-coded tags to match the cylinder of refrigerant that is utilized in that system. Technicians shall ensure that the proper refrigerant is being used in each system. There shall be no blending of refrigerants for equipment.

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Refrigerant Leaks

In the case of a refrigerant leak over 15% of the total charge within a 12-month period, from a comfort cooling appliance or a leak over 35% total charge from an industrial-use unit containing more than fifty pounds of refrigerant, certified technicians must repair the leak to a rate below the 15% or 35% within 30 days of discovery.  If the leak cannot be corrected within 30 days, the unit must be retrofitted or retired.  Additional time is permitted for conducting leak repairs where necessary parts are unavailable.  If the shops elect to retrofit or retire appliances, a retrofit or retirement plan must be developed within 30 days of detecting a leak that exceeds the trigger rates.   A copy of the plan must be kept on site and the original plan must be made available to the EPA as requested.  Activities under the plan must be completed within 12 months (from the date of the plan.)  See the Refrigerant Leak Repair Flow Chart for additional details.  Please contact Environmental Health and Safety if a leak needs to be reported to the EPA.  Environmental Health and Safety will work with Mostradi Platt to address the issue.

For all appliances subject to the leak repair requirements (>50 pounds), the timelines may be suspended if the appliance has undergone "system mothballing."  System mothballing means the intentional shutting down of a refrigeration appliance undertaken for an extended period of time where the refrigerant has been evacuated from the appliance or the affected isolated section of the appliance to at least atmospheric pressure.  However, the timelines resume as soon as the system is brought back on-line.

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Prohibition on Venting

Individuals are prohibited from knowingly venting refrigerants into the atmosphere while servicing, repairing, or disposing of appliances.

Reviewed: January 2016

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