Contractor Fights Refrigerant Huffing, Theft

FORT MYERS, FL – Every year there was at least one unexplainable low-refrigerant service call, but when more than 10 occurred in 2009, executives at HVAC contractor Advanced Air and Refrigeration suspected more than phantom leaks that were difficult to find.

Professional thieves, who have been stealing R-22 and R-410A nationally, were service manager Ronda Szymanski’s initial suspects. However, when a company service tech found a butter knife lying next to a central air conditioning condenser depleted of refrigerant, and its service port visibly damaged, Szymanski knew the loss was due to huffing. She suspected that the trend of inhaling refrigerants for a free high, which killed hundreds of teenagers nationally, had finally reach Fort Myers, FL. Where Advanced Air has run a family HVAC service contracting firm for 25 years.

“I researched huffing on the internet and realized it was no longer somebody else’s problem; our own customers were being victimized,” said Szymanski.

The company immediately made a service policy change. All new and replacement units now get a locking, tamper-resistant Novent refrigerant service port locking cap. Every service call customer gets an installation option.

Florida Cooling Supply, Clearwater, FL, introduced the cap to Advanced Air. Szymanski bought one, installed it on her own central air condenser, and challenged her own teenage boy to try and remove it. The locking cap won the battle. “I don’t want to sell something to customers that I haven’t tried myself”, she explained.

Locking caps already comply with the International Mechanical Code (Section 1101-10) and the International Residential Code (Section M1411-6), which mandate tamper-resistant outdoor access ports for all new air conditioning and refrigeration installations. The locking caps can only be removed with a special key available to licensed technicians through HVAC distributors.

Reprinted from the “Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration News”

GAINES HVAC INC., CAN INSTALL LOCKING CAPS ON YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNIT DURING SPRING MAINTENANCE OR DURING A SERVICE CALL FOR $35.00. JUST LET YOUR SERVICE TECHNICIAN KNOW!!