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Gas Leak Detection for Refrigerants

Updated: Jul 13, 2023



Refrigerant leaks pose significant environmental and operational challenges in refrigeration and air conditioning systems. Not only do they contribute to environmental pollution, but they also lead to unnecessary energy consumption as well as making a significant contribution to climate protection. Recognizing the severity of this issue, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has recently revised their Standard 15, Safety Standard for Refrigeration Systems. In this blog post, we will explore the implications of these updates and their impact on commercial and industrial facilities.

Understanding Refrigerant Leaks:

Refrigerant leaks occur when refrigerant gas escapes from a closed-loop system, typically in refrigeration or air conditioning systems. These leaks can result from improper installation, equipment damage, or regular wear and tear. Besides environmental harm, refrigerant leaks also pose risks to human health, as many refrigerants are toxic or flammable, such as Ammonia (NH3). Additionally, they increase energy consumption as the system compensates for the lost refrigerant to maintain desired temperatures.

ASHRAE's Revised Standard 15:

ASHRAE's revised Standard 15 mandates the installation of refrigerant leak detection systems in all refrigeration systems. The standard establishes specific guidelines for the design, installation, and maintenance of these systems. Notably, the updated requirements dictate that the leak detection system must identify leaks within 30 seconds of occurrence and promptly alert operators through visual and audible alarms. Moreover, if a leak is detected with an LFL(lower Flammability Level) value of 25% or more, the system must have the capability to automatically shut down the refrigeration system and mitigate potential risks. For example, the gas detection controller can activate ventilation fans, de-energize potential ignition sources, or strategically close specific fluid valves.

Placement and Calibration of Refrigerant Sensors:

Standard 15 also introduces requirements for the placement, verification, and calibration of refrigerant sensors. These sensors should be strategically positioned in areas prone to refrigerant leaks, such as near refrigerant piping or equipment. Regular calibration and/or verification is necessary to ensure the accuracy of the sensors' readings, enhancing the effectiveness of the leak detection system.

Collaborating closely with Gas Detection Specialists is essential to guarantee that system installations and maintenance adhere to the new standard.


Refrigerant leak detection plays a vital role in the operation of refrigeration and air conditioning systems. ASHRAE's updated Standard 15 provides valuable guidance on designing, installing, and maintaining these systems to maximize their effectiveness. Utilities and Design Engineers hold a crucial role in ensuring compliance with the new standard, thereby reducing energy wastage and safeguarding the environment and human health.

For the past thirty years, M. R. Franceschin, Inc. has been working alongside top manufacturers of Gas Detection Systems. Our firm employs factory-trained personnel ready to assist with the pre-design, product selection, and maintenance of most components involved in a Gas Detection System. Typical applications range from detecting the presence of toxic Chlorine and Ammonia, to explosive gasses detection, including oxygen deficiency applications.

Our team of trained Field Service technicians can proactively verify your gas detection system and calibrate the sensors periodically in an effort to comply with the recently updated Standards, contact us for more information.


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