Regulated refrigerants cannot be added to refrigeration and air conditioning equipment to flush the equipment of contaminants or test for leaks.
A leak occurs in a refrigerant system when refrigerant is allowed to escape a closed loop refrigerant system, sealed component or container.
Types of leaks
Leaks in refrigerant systems fall into two main types:
Refrigerant leaks, regardless of their type, require the use of a recovery method during repair.
Both refrigerant leaks and/or the service required to repair the leak will lead to a release of refrigerant into the environment.
Inward leaks occur on refrigerant systems that operate at less than atmospheric pressure.
These sub-atmospheric systems draw air and moisture into the system, causing the refrigerant to form an acidic solution.
This eventually leads to oil breakdown, corrosion of internal components and sludge formation.
Sub-atmospheric chillers operate in a vacuum resulting in air being drawn into the system.
This air must be removed using a purge unit.
When air is vented from the purge unit, some refrigerant is vented to the atmosphere along with the air.
For this reason, a high-efficiency purge unit designed to minimize the amount of refrigerant released is required (i.e. 0.01 kg of air).
Outward leaks occur when refrigerant that is pressurized is allowed to escape from a closed loop refrigerant system, sealed refrigerant component or closed refrigerant container.
Outward leaks result in refrigerant being released into the atmosphere which causes environmental damage.
Recharging and Topping Up
It is illegal and a contravention of the regulation to recharge or top up refrigerating and air conditioning equipment that has an existing charge, unless the equipment has successfully passed approved leak testing procedures.
All leaks must be repaired before the equipment can be re-charged with a refrigerant.
Leak Test Procedure
Manitoba’s approved Leak Test Procedure and Leak Detection Methods are highlighted in Chapter 5.
All equipment must be repaired immediately and made leak free.
When a refrigerant leak exists and equipment cannot be repaired immediately, the refrigerant must be recovered and the equipment dismantled in a manner that will prevent operation of the equipment.
Damage to the equipment will likely result if the equipment operates without refrigerant.