Refrigerant Analysis (3rd Party)

Lightning Mechanical offers refrigerant analysis for HVAC systems in the New York City Tri-State area. We partner with trusted 3rd party service providers who can perform laboratory analysis of refrigerants to identify contaminant levels and check them against AHRI 700 standards.

Our testing partners can only perform the analysis; they cannot interpret or recommend repairs; that's Lightning Mechanical's job.

Retaining an independent 3rd party laboratory for this service helps us ensure that we receive the most accurate information possible without owning and maintaining the expensive specialized tools they require.

Refrigerant Analysis (3rd Party)
Refrigerant Analysis (3rd Party)

Who can perform this analysis?

Lighting Mechanical's refrigerant analysis partners ensure high-quality testing at their laboratory. We work exclusively with companies that can provide us with high-precision measurements of contaminants in our customers' refrigerants.

We look for accredited certification in testing:

  • Water Content
  • Non-Condensable
  • Oil contamination
  • High Boiling residue
  • Acidity levels
  • Volume expansion potential
  • Purity

All of our current refrigerant testing partner laboratories' services meet our advanc

ed troubleshooting and forensic engineering standards.

Refrigerant Analysis (3rd Party)

When do you need refrigerant analysis?

Air conditioning systems can be contaminated by mechanical wear and tear, improper refrigerant recharging & recovery practices, reclaimed refrigerant, or improper installation.

Since refrigerant is the heat transfer material of your HVAC, to maximize efficiency, it needs to maintain the highest purity possible. Contaminants in your refrigerant compromise the specifications. HVAC manufacturers design their equipment around.

Most HVAC technicians will detect excess liquid in a system when they recover it from service, but some technicians may recharge with a higher pressure gas refrigerant to negate this. This causes damage to equipment and drives up energy costs needlessly.

We recommend evacuating and testing your system annually, especially in Brooklyn, New Jersey, or Queens, where environmental issues may be more prevalent.

How do you know if there's contamination?

Our customers experience a decrease in their equipment's kWh rate, which they can track from monthly bills.

In addition to reviewing our customer's bill with them, we recommend having an infrared camera brought into the space and an ionization particle counter to measure the number of particles per cubic meter in the air and trace them back to their source.

Our 3rd party partners handle all the laboratory testing while we perform testing for your on-site equipment.

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Problems Caused By Contaminated Refrigerant

Contaminated refrigerant opens the door to several potential problems for your HVAC system. To correctly identify and address the issue, we rely on refrigerant analysis to tell us what exactly is going on. Once we know what is wrong with the refrigerant, we can search for the source of the contamination and correctly identify the repair program required.

The most common types of Refrigerant contamination are as follow:

Oil Contamination

Refrigerants are very sensitive to oil contamination, so that any detectable levels will damage the compressor. Oil-contaminated refrigerant can form a sludge that coats part surfaces and restricts flow in equipment, leading to higher pressure drops and reduced performance. This also increases wear on equipment prematurely.

Non Condensable Gases

Non-condensables can prevent or reduce heat transfer. Some of the most common non-condensable to interfere with air conditioning equipment are air, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. The compressors in your HVAC system are designed to increase pressure and heat the refrigerant. They are not tooled to compress any other substance. These contaminants can lower system capacity due to decreased heat transfer efficiency.

High Boiling Residue

When liquid refrigerant is heated up during recharging, liquid flashes into a vapor. Any refrigerant that does not flash into a vapor remains in liquid form and is called High Boiling. This residue can leave sludge in components, reducing efficacy and service life.

Acidity Levels

Acidity in a refrigerant causes problems in equipment operation due to corrosion, leading to system failure. Acidic materials also cause compressor damage and plug system filters.

Volume Expansion Potential

When a refrigerant is contaminated, it can swell beyond what your system is calibrated to handle and cause burst piping, leaks, and damage to condenser and evaporator coils. High water content in your piping can lead to freezing water bursting your condenser coils.


The purity of a refrigerant is the most crucial factor in determining its usefulness as an insulating agent. Contaminants can increase pressure drop dramatically, leading to high energy consumption and poor system performance.

How Do I Get My Systems Analyzed?

Lightning Mechanical offers fast service through our third-party refrigerant analysis partners. We work with industry-leading technicians who provide high-quality testing and optimal customer service.

You can request refrigerant analysis from us any time of the year. However, if no urgent repairs are needed, we recommend refrigerant analysis be performed as part of your HVAC annual inspection and maintenance. Pulling refrigerant from the system requires it to be shut down, so it makes sense to avoid unnecessary downtime.

A refrigerant analysis is also a key feature of our advanced troubleshooting and forensic engineering services.

Refrigerant Recovery

We handle collecting and delivering the sample from your HVAC installation to the laboratory. Our technicians are EPA certified to remove and transport refrigerant and can guarantee the safety and integrity of the sample we submit.

Once we receive your test results, our technician will recommend adequate use instructions or recommendations for repair, as needed. We provide our customers with a comprehensive report of any findings. We present the data along with repair recommendations from OEM guidelines.

Refrigerant Analysis (3rd Party)
Refrigerant Analysis (3rd Party)

Refrigerant Recovery Health Risks

Significant risks are associated with recharging an air conditioning system with reclaimed or recycled R-134a. Not only does this practice damage the components of the system, but it also poses a risk to the technician recharging it.

The most significant health risk associated with recycling refrigerants is the release of fumes into the air that technicians breathe while recharging a system. If these fumes are inhaled, they can cause or exacerbate respiratory illness and increase cancer risks.

In addition to inhaling harmful gases, technicians can also suffer from skin exposure, causing irritation and rashes.


The best way to avoid these potential health risks is to hire EPA-certified technicians. A high-quality service company will always ensure that you are recharged with the proper refrigerant and the correct amount. They should never recommend using recycled or reclaimed products on your system, especially when no apparent repairs are needed. Specialized services like forensic engineering and HVAC annual inspections can help identify issues before they become a problem. The technicians at Lightning Mechanical are always available to answer your questions or recommend top-quality service for your heating and cooling system.

The Dangers of Recycled Refrigerant

If your HVAC maintenance or service provider provides refrigerant change or recharges well below market rates, it might be because they are unloading reclaimed refrigerant on your system.

Reclaimed refrigerant is one of the biggest causes of HVAC equipment failure. Reclaiming refrigerants can harm your health, so hiring a reputable company is critical.

However, If your air conditioning units are low or empty on refrigerant, you could be losing money every day they go offline for service, and for many, the appeal of a quick and cheap fix is too strong to resist. Sadly, this is usually a fool me once situation. The future costs of repairs to components after refrigerant full of volatile impurities run through them are far higher than the cost of filling your system correctly.

The next time you hear a technician, "Don't worry about it, I'll just recycle this refrigerant," think twice before allowing them to top off your systems.

Contact Us Today

At Lightning Mechanical, we are dedicated to providing top-quality service and repair. Our ASE-certified technicians offer efficient HVAC services at fair prices. Contact us for more information on our heating, air conditioning, or refrigerant change services in New York, New Jersey, Northern Maryland, and Southern Maine.


Contact Us

65 Newark Way, Maplewood, NJ 07040, US
Monday - Friday: 8am - 6pm
24 Hour on call emergency service available