Saturday, June 25, 2011

Locking Refrigerant Caps Now Code

I want to point out a relatively new provision of the International Mechanical Code and the International Residential Code – a requirement for locking refrigerant caps. In the International Residential Code the provision reads “M1411.6 Locking access port caps. Refrigerant circuit access ports located outdoors shall be fitted with locking-type tamper-resistant caps.” Since the IRC has become so common across the country, there is a good likelihood that your area requires locking access port caps. If you are like me, that may come as a surprise. The primary reason for the requirement is to discourage people from releasing the refrigerant and huffing it to get a quick high. Before you all go out and start snorting refrigerant, let me first tell you what it does. Basically, it deprives you of oxygen and you feel lightheaded and dizzy as a result. That is all the high is - dizziness from oxygen deprivation. Since it deprives you of oxygen, too much for too long and you die. Since refrigerant is heavier than air, once you have filled your lungs with refrigerant, it is hard to get it to leave so you can replace it with air. I first heard of this way back in the ‘70s when people would do just about anything, including smoking bananas and sniffing refrigerant. I thought it had gone away with so many other crazy ideas of the 70’s. However, there is an alarming increase in the number of people sniffing refrigerant. The mother of a teenage boy who killed himself huffing refrigerant has founded an organization called UPROAR which works to prevent similar tragedies. So where can you get these caps? They are available at wholesalers and also online. You can read more about them at NOVENT, or AirTec.  Here are a few links to different tragic stories where people died from inhaling refrigerant.  
UPROAR - many stories on this site.


  1. This is excellent information Carter. I was not aware of the UPROAR organization but I plan to get involved now. If your readers would like to purchase locking refrigerant caps I would like to recommend

  2. If parents would be parents maybe all these absurd laws would not be needed. Why not keep your kids locked up in their rooms, there is no way to keep them from some type of harmful substanse. Teach you kids about the dangers of any type of harmful substance.

  3. The thing is the homeowner is protecting their investment in refrigerant which like everything else keeps going up & up. Who wants to deal with turning on their air for the 1st time on a hot summer day only to find it isn't working & to have no idea why? When for an additional $30 some you could have locking caps put on the next time it is serviced & you've done what you can to protect your investment & mitigate your liability.

  4. Just like putting child proof caps on a medicine bottle these will prevent a toddler from getting access.

    But we aren't talking toddler here folks. If your toddler can get to the a/c unit you have bigger prolems than freon sniffing.

    A locking cap will not keep a teenager from inhaling something. It begins with education and the parents involved.

    If the teenager is going to sniff something and you have a locked cap on the a/c unit they will just sniff something you can't lock like an aerosol can.

    A locked cap prevents nothing.

  5. What keeps them from just cutting the lines to sniff the escaping freon?

  6. True story: Several years ago, I was called out on a "no cooling" call...found system low on charge...quick leak test found no leak...added refrigerant and told this friend from church to consider changing the indoor coil where leak was suspected...
    put the caps on securely to complete the call...
    ...two days later, get a call-back to same residence...
    ...friend is standing across the unit from me as I look down
    and see that one of the access caps is laying on the unit
    pad...I look at homeowner and ask, "Anyone in the neighbor-
    hood might be huffing refrigerant?"
    "Yes," he says, "my son John!"
    They put the son in a rehabilitation facility immediately.
    Six months later the son died of an overdose of drugs.
    Huffing refrigerant was an indicator of where that kid
    was headed.

  7. Putting lock on is okay but anyone can buy a key on ebay these days you do not have to be certified to buy one.. that does not stop the problem.