We’ve all heard of fake Rolexes and Gucci purses, but counterfeit refrigerant?! Counterfeit and alternative refrigerants may be rare, but you should be aware that they’re out there—and they represent a safety hazard that could damage your HVAC systems.
The cost of R-22 Freon is skyrocketing, and this rapid acceleration in price has created a market for counterfeit and alternative refrigerants. The same holds true for R-134a used in kitchen refrigerators, and the fake stuff can be dangerous!
Genuine, alternative, and counterfeit refrigerants… what’s the difference?
Genuine Refrigerants have been laboratory tested and approved by the EPA and HVAC manufacturers for use in their equipment. When refrigerant is required to perform covered A/C system repairs, an alternative product could be used, be sure your technician uses genuine refrigerants.
Alternative Refrigerants are approved by the EPA but not by manufacturers for use in their equipment. Using alternative refrigerants is legal, but can void the manufacturer’s warranty as an improper repair. Likewise,most home warranty plans do not cover a system failure if alternative refrigerant is determined to be the cause
Counterfeit Refrigerants are illegal to use or sell, and neither the EPA nor the equipment manufacturers have approved their use. Counterfeit refrigerants are often a concoction of genuine refrigerant and additives. These “cocktails” can be dangerous, as they may be toxic and/or explosive. Home warranty Plans does not cover a system failure if counterfeit refrigerant is determined to be the cause. In addition, it is not likely that any of Independent Network Service Providers will provide service if they discover a counterfeit, as it may require specialized hazmat methods for cleanup.
The best advice: I suggest that you have the HVAC system checked by a trusted HVAC expert rather than relying on the usual home inspection. HVAC experts can spot alternative and counterfeit refrigerants, in addition to other potential HVAC issues that require correction prior to close-of-sale.