Counterfeit Refrigerant is a Safety Risk For Your HVAC

Beware of counterfeit refrigerant for your HVAC system. Learn about the safety risks. Sandium offers reliable solutions and expert advice.

Updated on Oct 23, 2023
5 min read
Counterfeit Refrigerant is a Safety Risk For Your HVAC

There are several reasons for only dealing with trusted HVAC suppliers in the gorgeous Bay Area. One of these is adding authentic and high quality refrigerant to the system while repairing. Counterfeit refrigerant in the HVAC system can prove to be extremely dangerous to you and your family. There have been several reports of explosions and fires caused by counterfeit refrigerant.

How can counterfeit refrigerants make their way to your home?

Contaminated or counterfeit refrigerants have existed in the market for a long time. In most cases, they are illegally imported from China. There have been reports of explosions in containers shipping these refrigerants. Some of these have resulted in fatalities.

The problem has increased manifold in recent years since R22 and other ozone depleting refrigerants are in the process of being phased out as per EPA guidelines. There is a complete ban on importing and manufacturing R22 from January 1st, 2020 which has resulted in prices skyrocketing.

This has paved the way for unscrupulous vendors to profit by selling counterfeit or contaminated refrigerants at a lower price to unsuspecting HVAC businesses. In fact, there have been some reports of the highly flammable propane gas being sold as a refrigerant.

How risky are counterfeit refrigerants?

There are numerous risks associated with counterfeit and contaminated refrigerants. Some of these are discussed below:

Performance Issues

The very least of your problems with counterfeit refrigerant is that your system will not cool as efficiently as before. Unknown ingredients can directly impair the effectiveness of your HVAC unit. It may even lead to increasing energy bills as your system struggles to cool your living space.


You may just be looking at higher repair bills if counterfeit refrigerant is introduced to your system during repair. Corrosive damage can be caused by unlabeled contaminating chemicals, such as methyl chloride. This will lead to system damage over time by causing leaks. Compressor failure due to counterfeit refrigerant is also associated with system breakdowns.

Explosions and Fires

Results can be catastrophic when genuine refrigerant already present in the unit mix with counterfeit chemicals. Highly reactive compounds can be formed as a result according to ACHRNews, which may just be toxic. This is what caused the shipping explosion in the example mentioned earlier.

How can you protect your home and family?

After these outcomes, you would agree that using counterfeit refrigerants is just not worth the money saved. But, the fundamental question is how you can protect your HVAC system because you won’t directly deal with refrigerants yourself.

The key is being vigilant and asking HVAC service providers the right questions. Inquire about their sources and vendors and ask them directly how they verify the authenticity of the refrigerant used. For instance, major refrigerant manufacturers such as Chemours and Dupont have already implemented brand assurance programs. This includes labeling and measures towards authentication that is intended to combat counterfeit refrigerant.

It is recommended that you have your HVAC system serviced and repaired by credible professionals. A terrific HVAC service provider would use only trusted vendors and verify refrigerants in the cylinder.

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