Thumbs down to ‘Topping Up’

‘Topping up’ means adding refrigerant to refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) systems before checking for, and fixing, any leaks. This is not allowed under the Australian codes of practice for handling both stationary and automotive refrigerant systems.

‘Topping up’ and the refrigerant handling code of practice

The refrigerant handling code of practice (part one and part two) are best practice guidelines on handling refrigerant for individuals licensed through the RAC industry permit scheme. Following the code of practice is mandatory for permit holders and helps reduce emissions of ozone depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

The Australian automotive code of practice 2008 states: ‘The addition of refrigerant to an existing system charge to ‘top up’ must not be carried out.’ (A.4.1).

The Refrigerant handling code of practice 2007 states: ‘Users are advised that persons who service refrigeration and air conditioning equipment are required by legislation to observe this code of practice and not to ‘top up’ systems known to be leaking or to service equipment unless it can be returned into service in a leak free condition.’ (Part 1 – 10.3; Part 2 – page 27).

Copies of the Codes of Practice can be downloaded from the Australian Refrigeration Council website.

Why ‘topping up’ is not allowed

‘Topping up’ is bad for the environment. If you haven’t checked for, and repaired, leaks found in RAC systems, ‘topping up’ refrigerant runs the risk of releasing refrigerant to the atmosphere. CFC, HCFC and HFC refrigerants are found in most domestic, commercial and automotive RAC systems. They are ozone depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases.

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