how to check & refill refrigerant?

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how to check & refill refrigerant?
I have the Trane XE1200 Air Conditioner, 4 tons, 12 SEER, model number TTP048D100A0 since 1999 in Northern California for a 2 level 2100 sq ft home. According to its label, it shows refrigerant to be HCFC-22 is 8lbs 10oz? http://www.angelfire.com/pro/young707/post.html Can you please tell me where to get a meter to check the refrigerant level? (any used one for occasional use, like once a year). And where to buy refrigerant to fill it? I was told that as long as my AC is giving cool air, its refrigerant level is fine?
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1)You need EPA certification to service the unit.
2) If it's releasing more than fifteen percent of its charge over the course of a year, the EPA requires the system to be repaired rather than repeatedly recharged.
http://epa.gov/ozone/title6/608/608fact.html#techcert
Michael Thomas Paragon Home Inspection, LLC mdt@paragoninspectsDOTcom 847-475-5668
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"MDT at Paragon Home Inspections, LLC"

Post proof of that statement. AFAIR, that only concerns systems that hold 50 pounds or more.
Over a few years, fixing the leak can actually save money.
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"Technician
Any person who performs maintenance, service, or repair that could reasonably be expected to release class I (CFC) or class II (HCFC) substances from appliances, except for MVACs, into the atmosphere. Technician also means any person performing disposal of appliances, except for small appliances, MVACs, and MVAC-like appliances, that could be reasonably expected to release class I or class II refrigerants from appliances into the atmosphere.
Appliance
Any device which contains and uses a class I (CFC) or class II (HCFC) substance as a refrigerant and which is used for household or commercial purposes, including any air conditioner, refrigerator, chiller, or freezer. EPA interprets this definition to include all air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment except that designed and used exclusively for military purposes.
Small appliance
Any of the following products that are fully manufactured, charged, and hermetically sealed in a factory with five pounds or less of refrigerant: refrigerators and freezers designed for home use, room air conditioners (including window air conditioners and packaged terminal air conditioners), packaged terminal heat pumps, dehumidifiers, under-the-counter ice makers, vending machines, and drinking water coolers.
MVAC-like appliance
Mechanical vapor compression, open-drive compressor appliances used to cool the driver's or passenger's compartment of a non-road vehicle, including agricultural and construction vehicles. This definition excludes appliances using HCFC-22.
http://epa.gov/ozone/title6/608/608defns.html#appliance
"Technician Certification
EPA has established a technician certification program for persons ("technicians") who perform maintenance, service, repair, or disposal that could be reasonably expected to release refrigerants into the atmosphere. The definition of "technician" specifically includes and excludes certain activities as follows:
Included:
- attaching and detaching hoses and gauges to and from the appliance to measure pressure within the appliance;
- adding refrigerant to (for example "topping-off") or removing refrigerant from the appliance
- any other activity that violates the integrity of the MVAC-like appliances, and small appliances.
... Technicians are required to pass an EPA-approved test given by an EPA-approved certifying organization to become certified under the mandatory program. Section 608 Technician Certification credentials do not expire."
"Refrigerant Sales Restrictions
Since November 14, 1994, the sale of refrigerant in any size container has been restricted to technicians certified either under the program described in Technician Certification above or under EPA's motor vehicle air conditioning regulations. The sales restriction covers refrigerant contained in bulk containers (cylinders or drums) and pre-charged parts."
http://epa.gov/ozone/title6/608/608fact.html
AFAIK the "50 pound rule" refers to various service and record keeping requirements where servicing unit at or above this size, for example:
"Owners of equipment with charges of greater than 50 pounds are required to repair leaks in the equipment when those leaks together would result in the loss of more than a certain percentage of the equipment's charge over a year. For the commercial and industrial process refrigeration sectors, leaks must be repaired when the appliance leaks at a rate that would release 35 percent or more of the charge over a year. For all other sectors, including comfort cooling, leaks must be repaired when the appliance leaks at a rate that would release 15 percent or more of the charge over a year."
"Technicians servicing appliances that contain 50 or more pounds of refrigerant must provide the owner with an invoice that indicates the amount of refrigerant added to the appliance. Technicians must also keep a copy of their proof of certification at their place of business."
"Owners of appliances that contain 50 or more pounds of refrigerant must keep servicing records documenting the date and type of service, as well as the quantity of refrigerant added."
http://epa.gov/ozone/title6/608/608fact.html
The EPA takes this stuff very seriously:
http://epa.gov/ozone/enforce/index.html
As always, if I'm in error, I welcome corrections.
Michael Thomas Paragon Home Inspection, LLC Chicago, IL mdt@paragoninspectsDOTcom 847-475-5668
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MDT at Paragon Home Inspections, LLC wrote:

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As it says in the links you posted, more than 50 pounds capacity requires leaks to be repaired. Under 50 pounds, blow it out every year...
"MDT at Paragon Home Inspections, LLC"

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MDT at Paragon Home Inspections, LLC wrote:

Michael - Do you have a link / citation for your 'fifteen percent loss per year requires repair' statement? It is my understanding that there is no such EPA requirement for appliances containing less than 50lbs of CFC/HCFCs.
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Travis,
OK, I have what I think is the final answer to these questions, via a phone conversation with the EPA's head office in Washington: the information I provided was incorrect, as was its source, an informational bulletin from one of the major manufactures of residential central AC systems.
Based on this mornings conversation:
1) As far as the EPA is concerned it's legal for a homeowner to do any sort of diagnostic or service work on their own AC system, up to an including instalation of a complete system, provided that they can find a source willing to sell them the required tools and materials without their providing proof of holding an EPA 608 certification.
2) There is no limit to the number or frequency of recharges to comfort cooling system containing less than 50 pounds of refrigerant; if the homeowner is willing to do so they can recharge as often as they wish, nor is their any limit to the number or frequency of such recharges, performed at a homeowner's request by a commercial HVAC service's EPA 608 certified technician.
According to the EPA these is considerable confusion regarding these provisions, and these are questions the EPA is frequently asked by HVAC wholesalers ad other resellers of refrigerant and the equipment required to charge and service residential AC systems, including large organizations such as Granger Supply and Home Depot.
I apologize for an inconvenience caused by my incorrect response above, and can only note that I wasn't making it up "off the top of my head", I was depending on information from what appeared to be a reliable source, and according to the EPA representative there is no EPA document which directly address the issue of homeowner service of central AC systems
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Wow!
"MDT at Paragon Home Inspections, LLC"

permits and having the work inspected.

contractors to recharge AC's can be expensive.

Some people are too proud to admit confusion, much less apologize (I'm guilty occasionally). Michael, you're a good one.
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Travis,

What the EPA told me is that is a very common question, and that it's frequently asked by resellers of refrigerant and AC s supplies large volume vendors (Granger and Home Depot were specifically mentioned). And given the range of regs that apply to commercial AC service organizations and technicians I can see why, it's a surprising omission. My guess is that regulators just don't believe it's a battle worth fighting given the relatively small number of systems that are actually serviced by owners. And in fact, in my area, I'm not aware of any source that will sell refrigerant to an uncertified individual.

Well, I'm seldom wrong - especially so completely wrong <grin>. (Really, the *much* more common situation is that someone says "But we've always done this way..." and turns out I'm the one who has the more current or accurate information.)
But I have to cover a lot of territory, I often have to rely on industry publications or training materials, and if information from these sources is incorrect, , or it's unclear, or out of date, or I've jsut misunderstood it, and I want to retain any creditability at all, I need to get on it, NOW, and resolve the question to my satisfaction, and either produce support for my opinion, or admit my error; it's a job that requires a healthy ego but also, if you want to be really good at it, a willingness to dig in and find the answers, even if once in a while you are proving yourself wrong.
Michael Thomas Paragon Home Inspection, LLC Chicago, IL mdt@paragoninspectsDOTcom 847-475-5668
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So, what is the common sense method to check / measure and refill (if needed) refrigerant in my backyard AC system?
"MDT at Paragon Home Inspections, LLC"

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Many have already try to tell you that the issues are too complex for a "simple" or "common sense" answer. It is too bad that there are many rip off artists in the residential HVAC service industry. When you find a good honest one, keep him. Ask for a recommendation from neighbors, coworkers, church goers, etc.
Simple: at the outdoor unit there will be 2 pipes. One large, one quite a bit smaller. Check while the unit is running on a hot day. The large pipe should be quite cold to the touch - depending on atmospheric conditions it may be sweating a bunch or even showing a touch of frost. The small pipe will be almost hot enough to burn your skin. Make sure the coils on the outdoor unit are clean. If the condensate line is making a steady stream of water, you know the unit is working, though this is a bit subject to the relative humidity. If these conditions don't exist, call for a repairman.
Further diagnosis requires a gauge set, knowledge of refrigerant types, temperature differential settings, and perhaps add refrigerant. Most vendors will not sell the refrigerant to non licensed individuals so the scenario usually dies right there. ______________________________ Keep the whole world singing . . . . DanG (remove the sevens) snipped-for-privacy@7cox.net

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DanG wrote:

It is just as common for the small pipe (the liquid line) to be at or close to ambient temperature.
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On Thu, 27 Jul 2006 16:03:26 -0400, "HeatMan"

That's exactly what I said (to myself).

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MDT at Paragon Home Inspections, LLC wrote:

No problem, Michael. Your report of the EPA's position squares with what I understand of the situation.
Thanks for reporting back.
Travis
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Any HVAC/R supply housw with have what yo want. Just show them yoru licence (for refrigeration, not driving) and they will sell them to you.

Maybe, not always. How cold?
Not much a homeowner can do on an AC unit. You can't do anything with the refrigerant.
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Don't know how cold it gets.
We set the home temp to 78F and it often takes around 20 minutes to cold down 1F (rough estimate).
Is there common sense to check if the AC unit needs services. Services calls are too expensive here in Silicon Valley. I just want to know if there is any kind of basic maintanence I can do myself.
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Summer,
There's not much routine maintenance for the home owner. Change the filter every few months. Have a routine service call every few years. That's about it. You are not qualified to work on this system yourself. If the cooling seems poorer than in years past it may be time for that routine service call.
Dave M.
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You check the air temperature going into the coil, then coming out of the coil.
If you can't afford Silicone Valley, move to North Dakota. Or Iowa, or Mississippi.
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Let's see, that would be Valley of the Dolls, right?
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