It’s easy to find articles and tips on how to find a trustworthy heating and cooling provider, and how to pick out the best HVAC system for a residential or commercial building, but homeowners looking to dispose of an old HVAC unit find very little information about where to start. People often don’t realize that the average HVAC unit has many recyclable parts, but that it also contains many hazardous chemicals and should only be installed or removed by a professional HVAC technician.
In response to this problem, a recycling service in Graniteville, South Carolina has begun working with HVAC contractors in order to provide residents with safe and cost-effective unit removals. Recleim LLC is an appliance recycling service, and it has partnered with the South Carolina Association of Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors (SCAHACC) to make the process of removing and disassembling unwanted HVAC units both safer and more environmentally friendly.
The agreement between the two organizations states that SCAHACC members will each pay an annual fee to Recleim based on how many HVAC units are sold, and in return, Recleim will remove units for free and will pay South Carolina contractors for used systems. Upon the member’s request, Recleim will provide a “certificate of destruction” to prove that all federal and local recycling requirements were met; this certificate will also provide homeowners with documents that officially make Recleim the only party responsible for safe destruction and recycling methods for each unit.
Recleim states that it only uses the most advanced recycling techniques, and that, on average, 95% of an old HVAC unit can be deconstructed and recycled for use in other products. And even though environmental concerns are a top priority for Recleim, the safety of homeowners and HVAC specialists is also a big concern whenever a unit must be disassembled.
Even though HVAC units contain many recyclable parts, they also contain refrigerants and other harmful chemicals. They can be costly and time-consuming for even the most experienced HVAC technician to remove and disassemble, meaning that this chore is even more dangerous for the average homeowner to attempt.
“Professionals have the proper tools to remove an air conditioner which contain refrigerant and if you don’t have the proper tools you can get burned very badly. Environmentally, you are releasing the refrigerant into the atmosphere which is harmful to the ozone. If you get caught doing that you can also get fined by the EPA. When it comes to furnaces, if they aren’t vented properly people can expose themselves to carbon monoxide and risk a catastrophic event,” says Jeff Vitt, Vice President of Vitt Heating & Air Conditioning.
Although this particular HVAC unit recycling program is limited to South Carolina providers and customers, if the program proves to be successful, we may soon see more providers teaming up with recycling services to create similar programs for homeowners. Until then, experts in the HVAC industry urge homeowners to leave the installation, intensive cleaning, and removal processes to the experts.