Tag: recovery

 

To start with I’m going to cut straight to the part that most of you want to know. This is based on calculations I have done personally based on typical Mastercool DOT tanks but feel free to come to your own conclusions based on your own calculations. I prefer to stay on the safe side.

30 lb recovery tank – Fill with no more than 17lbs of R410a or 21 lbs of R22 – total tank weight will be about 35lbs for R410a and 39lbs for R22

50 lb recovery tank – Fill with no more than 32lbs of R410a or 39 lbs of R22 – total tank weight will be about 60lbs for R410a and 67lbs for R22

Now for the details.

First you should look for the Tare Weight of the tank. It will be stamped on the top rim of the tank or handle with TW- and then the # like shown below on a common propane tank

Tare weight is simply the empty weight of the tank and must be factored for whenever you are weighing the total weight of the tank.

Next look for a stamp that says WC, this indicates the water capacity of the tank, the total weight in liquid water to fill the tank 100%.

You also need to consider a few more things before you start filling

  1. You cannot fill above 80% with liquid or you risk building up hydrostatic pressure and exploding the tank (That’s a bad day).
  2. Refrigerant does not have the exact same weight to volume ratio as water so you must compensate based on the refrigerant type.
  3. Refrigerant weight to volume ratio changes based on temperature, so to be safe you must calculate the refrigerant volume at the maximum ambient the tank will be exposed to in the back of your van. I figure 130 degrees.

There are a few different ways to do the math. Some use the specific gravity of the refrigerant but I just use cubic foot per pound at 130 degrees to calculate just to be certain I am on the same side of the range.

Water has a volume of 62.42 pounds per cubic foot, R22 is 66.17 and R410a 54.70. You can find other refrigerants by looking up their data sheets.

a 30 lb Mastercool 400 PSI recovery tank has a water capacity of  26.2 lbs. Divide that by the water volume of 62.42 and you get 0.419 cubic ft of space in the tank  (25.2 / 62.42 = 0.419)

If you are filling the tank with R410a you would then multiply the space in the tank (0.419 cubic ft) by the cubic feet per lb of liquid R410a at 130 degrees (54.70) and you get 22.95 lbs to completely fill the tank.

However you cannot completely fill the tank, you must only fill it to 80%, so you multiply the 100% full weight (22.95 lbs) by .80 which gives you 18.36 lbs rounded down to 18 lbs of total internal R410a weight (I go down to 17 just to be extra conservative).

If you then want to calculate the total weight of the tank + the refrigerant inside the tank you would need to add the tare weight. For this Mastercool 30lb tank the TW = 17.99lbs for a total tank weight of 34.99 lbs

So in order to know for sure that you are not overfilling a tank, you must have the following –

  • A scale under the tank at all times
  • The tare weight of the tank
  • The water capacity of the tank
  • Either the liquid volume per pound or the specific gravity  of the refrigerant you are removing

For R22 and 410a I came up with some quick (conservative) cheat numbers to simplify the math a bit.

For R410a just multiply the WC by .65 to find a safe fill weight, for R22 multiply WC by .82

You would still need to add in the tare weight to calculate total tank weight and if you are using a different refrigerant you need to start the math from scratch.

When in doubt, err on the safe side… and for heavens sake… use a scale and read the information on your tank.

— Bryan

P.S. – Tech Daniel Green made a really cool spreadsheet calculator to get max fill for various refrigerants HERE

 

 

 

In this episode of the podcast Jeremy Arling from the EPA comes on and answers some common questions about the new rule changes that affect recovery, leak repair, record keeping and evacuation on HVAC and refrigeration systems. You can find the complete rule update HERE
a
s well as Jeremy’s presentation slides HERE as well as a quick sheet for technicians HERE

If you want an app to help you keep record of recovered refrigerant I would suggest looking at the R-Log app HERE

If you have an iPhone subscribe to the podcast HERE and if you have an Android phone subscribe HERE

Recovery is the removal of refrigerant from a system to either store and send in for recycling or to reintroduce back into the same system.

Here are some top tips –

  • Make sure your tank is empty and evacuated to 300 microns if you plan to return the refrigerant back into the system.
  • Never mix refrigerants.
  • Purge hoses before recovery.
  • Use a flare line drier on the inlet of the machine to increase the life of the machine and to filter and dry the refrigerant. These must be replaced regularly.
  • When recovering into a tank using the standard method invert the tank and pump into the vapor port on the tank.
  • Remove Schrader cores before recovery for faster recovery and a cooler tank.
  • Use larger gauge hoses with no core depressors for faster recovery.
  • Check Recovery machine inlet screens regularly and clean or replace as needed.
  • Some machines require oil to be run through the machine from time to time. Read manufacturer specifications.
  • If your tank becomes hot you can either place it in a bucket of water or run water over the tank.
  • Do not leave refrigerant in your machine during storage. If your machine has a purge mode make sure to purge the refrigerant out of the condenser (see manufacturers specs on your machine).
  • Most HVAC systems holding under 200 lbs of refrigerant are not required to be pulled into a vacuum during recovery. See this chart from the EPA.
  • Weigh the refrigerant out and do not fill the tank to more than 80% of the REFRIGERANT capacity, not just the water capacity.

We cover all of this and more in this video –

— Bryan

This topic came up because I was testing out the new MR45 digital recovery machine and that machine goes off by itself when it hits a 20″ Hg vacuum. This is a cool feature but it is good to know when that level of vacuum is overkill and when it’s not enough according to EPA requirements.

Why would you need to recover into a vacuum you might ask? Well, so long as you are above a PERFECT VACUUM (and you always do) there are still molecules of refrigerant in a system even at 0 pisg (14.7 PSIA at sea level). In low pressure systems like centrifugal  chillers the entire system charge can often be in a vacuum when the system is off, this means that recovery on these systems means you START below 0 PSIG and go down from there. 

First off let’s pretty much assume that none of you are using recovery machines OLDER than 1993 so really only look at the right side of the chart above.

If you are working on an air conditioning system with UNDER 200 lbs you are safe taking your recovery to 0 or atmospheric pressure. If the system you are working on has OVER 200 lbs of refrigerant or if you are working on a medium pressure or low pressure system you will need to pull the system into a vacuum.

The EPA does make an exception if the system has a know leak and pulling into a vacuum will result in contamination of the recovered refrigerant. Here is an excert from the EPA final rule summary from 1995 (still in force)

Also let me clarify that 25mm hg absolute is another way of saying 25 torr or 25,000 microns, it’s just a finer scale and it goes from 760 torr (760,000 microns) down as the vacuum gets deeper whereas inches of mercury (“hg) goes up as the vacuum gets deeper.

— Bryan

If you don’t use a scale every time you add or remove refrigerant I would suggest you begin doing so immediately if not sooner. Weighing in while adding is fairly obvious and is useful so you can keep track of what you are using and how much to charge a customer.

When you have a system that has just been repaired it is a good practice to weigh in the charge to factory specs plus or minus adjustments for lineset if it is a split system. This is all pretty evident, but why would you weigh a charge out? There are many reasons but I watched a video by Stephen Rardon today that re-ignited the importance of weighing refrigerant out in my mind. Whenever you have a failed compressor, weighing out the charge can help indicate whether possible undercharge or overcharge may have contributed to the failure. With any significant failure on an older system, weighing out the refrigerant can indicate whether a leak is likely. Stephen went so far as to weigh out the refrigerant on a failed shorted at the time of diagnosis… BRILLIANT!

Using refrigerant recovery as a means to find possible cause or even diagnose leaks on non-functional systems is next level diagnosis in my book. Use your scale.

Well done Stephen.

— Bryan

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