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How can I be safe when working on my cooling unit?

The ammonia absorption cooling unit is a sealed unit and is not meant to be tampered with in any way by the user. The cooling unit contains ammonium hydroxide, anhydrous ammonia, sodium chromate, and hydrogen at a pressure of 350 psi (pounds per square inch).

Do not drill, weld, or cut on the cooling unit. Rupturing the cooling unit will immediately engulf the area in ammonia and hydrogen, displacing the air. Hydrogen is flammable, and ammonia is an intensely irritating gas that can render one unconscious.

When working with or changing a cooling unit, never allow yourself to be "cornered" in a small area (such as a RV). Always have a means of exit. Accidents can and do happen. Although cooling units are very stout, all it takes is one weak point (a deteriorated pipe, for example) to create a problem. If a cooling unit does rupture, stay away from the area and wait for the ammonia to dissipate.

As for you do-it-yourselfers, maybe you can come up with a way to safely discharge the cooling unit and make repairs to it (probably not, though), but it will be virtually impossible for you to recharge the cooling unit without the proper equipment and the correct "formula". With this in mind, there is no logical reason to attempt potentially dangerous repairs.

Emergency First Aid. The key words for first aid involving ammonia are Air and Water. If you inhale ammonia or get the liquid ammonia solution on you, immediately get to fresh air and flush any affected area of your body or clothing with plenty of water. Sodium chromate, the yellowish-greenish powder in solution with the ammonium hydroxide, is a carcinogen. It can also appear on the outside of the cooling unit if there has been a leak. If you get sodium chromate on you, wash thoroughly with soap and water. If you have any lingering effects from, or any doubts about an encounter with the ingredients of a cooling unit, see a physician.


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