This article was originally featured on ACR News.
Refrigerant leaks are incredibly common in the HVAC & Refrigeration industry, and when they occur, they can be both hazardous and costly. Managing the refrigerant in commercial refrigeration systems is important from an environmental, regulatory, and financial perspective.
The High Cost of Refrigerant Leaks
Leaks can be caused by any number of factors and can occur in any system. For retail food facilities, the majority of leaks happen in refrigeration racks and cases. These leaks can pose a hazard in the workplace and cause environmental harm. Since brand new refrigeration equipment can be costly, many companies try to use their existing cooling systems as long as they can to maximize their return on investment. This strategy can often end up costing the company far more in the long run.
There are several ways in which these costs add up. There is the cost of the refrigerant lost annually. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that, on average, 25% of the refrigerant purchased by the US supermarket industry is lost each year due to leaks. If your current system is leaking, you can expect this cost to be eliminated immediately upon upgrading your equipment.
Leaks – especially large ones – can have a negative impact on your food quality. If the temperature deviates from the acceptable range due to a leak, you may even have to dispose of all of the impacted food. Disposing of all refrigerated inventory can be incredibly costly. And even in instances where you don’t have to dispose of your food inventory, temperature fluctuations can impact the quality of your product. In many instances, this negative change in quality will be noticed by customers, and can hurt your bottom line.
Leaky refrigeration equipment can also cause your operational costs to skyrocket due to excessive energy use. Upgrading your refrigeration equipment can use as much as 50% less than their older counterparts. The compounded savings month after month from upgrading leaky equipment means that it makes financial sense, and these units hit their break-even point far quicker than many business owners expect.
In addition to the cost of leaks from an operational standpoint, leaks also pose a health hazard to workers. If exposed, the business owner could face costly medical bills and worker’s compensation claims.
Refrigerant leaks also do a tremendous amount of harm to the environment and have been linked to ozone depletion and global warming. Due to these harmful effects, the EPA has adopted regulations that impose stiff penalties on companies that do not address leaks immediately. The threat of fines, costly repairs to the equipment, and irreparable damage to the environment make it worthwhile to upgrade leaking equipment as soon as possible. READ MORE