Weights & Measures
Each year, DATCP licenses about 3,500 businesses and vehicle fleet maintenance operations that service and repair motor vehicle air conditioning and trailer refrigeration systems.
Rules adopted under ATCP 136, Wis. Adm. Code, regulate repair practices, product sales, technician training programs and acceptable refrigerant recovery and recycling equipment. These rules complement federal regulations adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and are aimed at reducing the emission of refrigerants which contribute to depletion of the earth's stratospheric ozone and global warming.
The sale of substitutes for ozone-depleting refrigerants in containers holding less than 15 pounds is now permitted in Wisconsin. Sellers and users of these small cans do not need to license with the state. The bill is located at the following website: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/related/proposals/sb370
Both public and private operations are required to pay registration fees and obtain annual licenses from DATCP if they do any of the following:
- Install or service a motor vehicle air conditioning or trailer refrigeration system.
- Repair a motor vehicle if the repair may release refrigerant from the mobile air conditioner or trailer refrigeration system of that vehicle.
- Charge or evacuate any motor vehicle air conditioning or trailer refrigeration system.
- Operate refrigerant recovery or recycling equipment.
To obtain a license, an operator must complete and submit an application and provide information on approved refrigerant recovery and recycling equipment and technician training.
An annual license fee of $120 is required for each business location. The license year begins on March 1 and ends on the last day of February of the following year. A late fee of $24 is charged for license renewals received by the department after the due date. A registration fee surcharge of $160 may also be charged for businesses found operating without a valid license.
Wisconsin law requires technicians to inspect for leaks and, if necessary, repair vehicle air conditioning and trailer refrigeration systems before adding refrigerant to the systems. The "topping off" of leaky systems in prohibited.
Sometimes, refrigerant must be added to a system to test for leaks. If a refrigerant leak is found and the customer refuses to authorize repairs, the technician is only required to recover the refrigerant that was added to the system.
Using Refrigerant Substitutes
Technicians who service vehicles with any refrigerant not originally used in those vehicles must do the following:
- Completely remove any remaining refrigerant from the motor vehicle air conditioning system prior to recharging with refrigerant substitute.
- Affix proper labels identifying the name of the refrigerant substitute, date of installation, and name of the business and technician who serviced the vehicle.
- Install unique and permanent factory-made fittings on all mobile air conditioner service ports, refrigerant and subsequent damage to systems and equipment.
- Install compressor shut-off switches in those systems originally equipped with refrigerant pressure relief valves.
- Comply with other applicable EPA regulations under the federal SNAP (Significant New Alternatives Policy) program.
Prohibited Repair Practices
State regulations governing repair and servicing of vehicle air conditioning and trailer refrigeration systems prohibit the following practices:
- The intentional or negligent release of refrigerant into the environment.
- Failure to properly recover and recycle refrigerant prior to reuse of the refrigerant in any motor vehicle air conditioning system.
- Failure to use approved refrigerant recovery and recycling equipment and to employ registered technicians to remove refrigerant from vehicle air conditioning and trailer refrigeration systems.
- Failure to keep proper records of repair and service transactions.
Refrigerant Sales Restrictions
Refrigerant sales in containers holding greater than 15 lbs. in Wisconsin are restricted to licensed businesses. This applies to all refrigerants including R-134a, the common replacement refrigerant used in motor vehicle air conditioning viewed as non-ozone depleting.
Persons buying or selling refrigerant must keep accurate sales and purchase records.
Lastly, ATCP 136 prohibits misrepresentations in the sale or marketing of refrigerants. If a seller claims that a substitute refrigerant may be used as a replacement for an ozone-depleting substance, then that seller is also required to disclose any special use restrictions under state and federal law.
Links to Outside Websites
Under Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regulations, anyone salvaging vehicles with air conditioning or refrigeration systems must check them and recover any remaining refrigerants using approved recovery equipment and qualified equipment operators. The company performing this recovery must be registered with the DNR, keep records and comply with other requirements. Contact DNR program staff at (608) 264-6049 or go to http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/AirQuality/Refrigerants.html for more information.
Wisconsin Department of Commerce Safety and Building Division for commercial buildings and residential AC repair
Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for listing of approved recovery/recycling equipment
EPA Ozone Layer Protection: Regulatory Programs
EPA document on handling contaminated refrigerants
EPA-Certified Refrigerant Reclaimers
DATCP's mobile air conditioning program is administered in the Regulation & Safety Section of the Consumer Protection Bureau. For more information call (608) 224-4940 or firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
For more information on federal regulations and responsibilities under the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, visit EPA's Ozone Depletion website or contact the EPA Stratospheric Ozone Information Hotline at 1-800-296-1996.