How To Recover Freon Without A Machine

Nowadays, it is critical to recover refrigerants regularly. The laws have tightened recently, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that some refrigerants are contributing to ozone layer depletion. So if you want to know how to recover Freon without a machine, we researched the question and share the results below. 

Instead of using a machine, you can use gauges and tanks to recover Freon. To do this, you can follow these steps: 

  1. Take note of the cylinder's capacity and determine 80% of the cylinder's capacity.
  2. Attach the refrigerant gauge manifold's low-side gauge line to the recovering AC system's suction connection.
  3. Attach the high-side gauge line to the recovering AC system's king valve or a liquid line connector.
  4. Connect the gauge manifold's centerline loosely to the cylinder.
  5. Bleed a little refrigerant via the center line from each line, allowing it to escape at the cylinder connection.
  6. On the weighing scale, place the recovery cylinder and set the display to zero.
  7. Run the unit and open the valves between the liquid line and the cylinder.
  8. Keep an eye on the high-pressure gauge and ensure the system pressure does not exceed the working pressure of the cylinder.
  9. Keep an eye on the suction pressure on your gauge manifold, and don't let it dip below 0 PSIG.
  10. Take the refrigerant cylinder out. You may need to use recovery equipment to recover the leftover refrigerant.

Stay with us as we tackle why you need to recover Freon from your HVAC unit. We'll also talk about how much Freon you can recover, the types of refrigerant recovery methods, and the safety practices you must follow. 

master of repair air conditioners at work. tank of freon beside. tank pressure gauge close up. refrigerant gauges with high and low side close up. cylinder tank valve close up How To Recover Freon Without A Machine

Why Do You Need To Recover Freon?

They are collected to stop refrigerants from leaking or dispersing into the atmosphere. When dismantling a unit to perform maintenance or when disposing of a unit, you need to recover all forms of refrigerant. 

When dealing with CFC/HCFC refrigerant, make every effort to recover as much as possible. Remember, they are severely regulated in the United States and worldwide because of their harmful environmental impact.

Whatever refrigerant you're working with, if you don't recover it, you're actively harming the environment and infringing on the legislation for environmental protection at the federal level.

Therefore, recovering your refrigerant and storing it in recovery cylinders is always the wisest course of action.

How To Recover Freon Without A Machine

When Do You Recover Freon From An HVAC Unit?

During any one of the following three phases of the life cycle of refrigeration equipment, refrigerant recovery may occur:

  • During maintenance, when a full or partial charge of refrigerant is drained from the system;
  • Whenever you introduce a fresh refrigerant to the system;
  • Before you discard or scrap your unit.

In a system's lifetime, conversion is the least common of the three phases; the system can continue to function long after a refrigerant becomes obsolete. The most effective reasons for recovery have been the high refrigerant charges and rising refrigerant costs.

What Are The Requisites In Recovering Refrigerant Without A Machine?

You must first receive the section 608 Technician Certification of EPA to recover refrigerant without a machine. For you to get this certification, technicians are required to pass the EPA-approved test.

With this accreditation, they will be able to service, maintain, and repair machinery that might discharge refrigerants into the atmosphere.

Any technician must acquire one of the four certifications available:

  • Services of Type I: Small Appliances
  • Services for Type II High-Pressure Appliances
  • Low-pressure Appliance Services, Type III
  • Universal - Services for all kinds of equipment

Tools for air conditioning repair and maintenance

What Are The Tools You Need For The Job?

Having the right equipment is the first step in refrigerant recovery. You will need:

  • manifold gauges
  • safety goggles & gloves
  • refrigerant recovery cylinder
  • scale
  • certified refrigerant recovery unit
  • required hoses with low-loss connectors to connect to the discharge side of your recovery equipment

Safety Tips To Practice In Freon Recovery Process

When recovering the refrigerant, safety is always a concern. Here are some safety guidelines you can keep in mind to avoid accidents when you do the recovery process:

  • Remember always to wear safety goggles and gloves to avoid frostbite and prevent particles from entering your eyes.
  • Recovering refrigerant next to an open flame is dangerous since it will turn into phosgene gas. Phosgene gas inhalation is harmful.
  • Always use a scale when recovering refrigerant to avoid overfilling the recovery tank. The recovery tank could rupture from overfilling, seriously harm the machinery, and pose a life-threatening risks to nearby people and service professionals.
  • Some recovery equipment comes with a tank overfill sensor (TOS). A TOS is a cable that, when in contact with a liquid-level switch on the recovery cylinder, will cut off the unit's power supply if the tank fills to 80% of its maximum capacity.
  • In recovering R-410A, you must use different tanks, pipes, manifolds, and recovery tools.

AC technician charges an air conditioning compressor with freon.

What Are The Methods For Recovering Refrigerants?

Although it is possible to recover refrigerants without a machine, it is still best to do it with one. In connection, there are three available recovery methods you can use. These are: 

  • liquid recovery
  • push-pull recovery
  • vapor recovery

Liquid Recovery Method

The refrigerant is transferred while still in a liquid condition using this method. If the system you are maintaining allows it, recovering liquid is perfect for recovering significant amounts of refrigerant, such as during refrigerant transfer.

To perform the liquid recovery process, you can follow these steps: 

  1. Shut off the current to the HVAC system you are maintaining.
  2. Ensure that the recovery machine is turned off and that the manifold's valves are closed. This method works best with a manifold since it includes additional metering and lets you simultaneously pull from the high and low side ports.
  3. Connect your manifold's 1/4" utility hose to the recovery machine's suction port.
  4. Attach a hose to the discharge valve from the recovery cylinder's liquid side.
  5. Make sure that the suction and discharge ports use the shut-off' ends. The law requires this.
  6. Clear all hoses of non-condensable before starting the recovery process.
  7. Open the recovery tank's liquid valve. Remember to not fill it with more than 80% of its capacity.
  8. Start the recovery machine and set its selector valve to liquid.
  9. Open the manifold's utility port and high side valve. The unit won't stop recovering until the low-pressure switch turns it off and the recovery machine says it's finished.

Push-Pull Recovery Method

Large volumes of liquid refrigerants are moved using the push-pull recovery technique. The recovery unit draws vapor out of the recovery cylinder during this operation. It generates high-pressure discharge gas, which forces liquid out of the HVAC system and back into the recovery cylinder.

This recovery method consists of the following steps:

  1. Shut off the electricity to the HVAC system you are maintaining.
  2. Attach a hose from the recovery unit's discharge port to the vapor side of the HVAC system.
  3. Connect another hose from the HVAC system's liquid side to the recovery tank's liquid side via the sight glass.
  4. From the recovery tank's vapor side, connect a hose to the suction port of the recovery device.
  5. After all connections are made, clear the hoses of non-condensable before beginning the recovery process.
  6. Keep an eye on the sight glass. The push-pull recovery method is finished when neither the passing liquid nor the rising scale reading is visible through the sight glass.

If the air conditioning system is a heat pump with a reversing valve or less than 10 pounds of refrigerant, you shouldn't use the push-pull technique. Additionally, you shouldn't utilize the push-pull approach if the system contains an accumulator between the service ports used for liquid recovery or if the refrigerant system does not permit the development of a solid column of liquid.

In addition, for this recovery method, you need additional equipment such as: 

  • extra hose;
  • a recovery cylinder containing a maximum of 5lbs of refrigerant; and
  • sight glass with the appropriate pressure rating for the refrigerant you're using.

Vapor Recovery Method

The refrigerant is extracted from the HVAC system using the vapor recovery method while still in a vapor condition. The recovery unit converts the vapor into a liquid and transfers it to the recovery cycler.

These are the steps you need to follow to do this: 

  1. Turn off both the recovery machine and the HVAC system.
  2. Attach a hose to the recovery equipment's discharge side with low-loss fittings on both ends.
  3. Connect the opposite end of this line to the recovery cylinder's tank liquid port.
  4. Set the recovery cylinder on the scale.
  5. From the air conditioning system's low-side service port, attach a hose.
  6. The center port on your manifold set should receive the other end of this hose.
  7. Attach your manifold set's low side to a hose.
  8. Hook the suction side of the recovery equipment to the opposite end of this hose.
  9. Attach a hose from the tank's vapor port to the manifold set's high gauge. You can keep an eye on the tank pressure this way.
  10. Close the manifold set's valves.
  11. Open the recovery cylinder's liquid and vapor valves and power the machine.
  12. Allow the device to reach the proper vacuum depending on the refrigerant type.
  13. Close all valves, turn off the air conditioning, and start the purge cycle, if necessary.

Technician checking the operation of the air conditioner using tool with high and low pressure. How To Recover Freon Without A Machine

Final Thoughts

While it is possible to recover refrigerants without a recovery machine, it is still a dangerous process that professionals should handle. You also need to meet other requirements before you start your recovery project. 

It is best to consult and seek help from professionals if you're planning a recovery project. 

Before you leave, you can check out these related articles to learn more: 

How Much Freon In An Air Conditioner?

How To Remove Freon From A Window Air Conditioner

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