We are planning on having a new concrete patio poured in a couple of weeks and need to move our AC unit to make way for the slab. Is it possible for a layman to pump down the refrigerant and move the unit or do I need to pay someone to do this for me?

  • I ended up finding a retired HVAC guy on Craigslist who did the work for a very reasonable rate. Far less than the effort/cost of even getting the tools I'd need to complete this job.
    – CraigPDX
    Jun 27, 2015 at 0:07

3 Answers 3


Unless you are an abnormally equipped layman, no. Even then, there may be a legal requirement (depending where you are) for this to be done by a licensed A/C service person, as regulations around refrigerants have become much more stringent over the years, trying to limit uncontrolled releases to atmosphere.

  • 3
    Yep, first you need the equipment that extracts the refrigerant without contaminating it, then you need the vacuum pump (with clean oil) to pull a deep enough vacuum to extract all moisture after you've changed out the desiccant cartridge. And so on and so forth. This isn't a DIY, unless you work in the HVAC industry and have access to the tools and know the regulations. This isn't the good old days where I observed them just vent the freon to the atmosphere on a milk reefer unit, do the repair work, vac and charge with fresh freon. We're still paying for the good old days. May 18, 2015 at 15:43
  • What's a reasonable price to pay for this service?
    – CraigPDX
    May 18, 2015 at 16:07

The hard part actually isn't pumping down the vacuum on the AC, the hard part is recovering the refrigerant. Auto parts stores will loan you a vaccum pump that will work on a house AC, but this won't allow you to recover the refrigerant. Recovering the refrigerant requires specialized equipment that's quite expensive. Discharging the refrigerant to the atmosphere is definitely illegal.


Seriously to move your AC unit, you don't need any fancy equipment to pump down your refrigerant. You simply need a set of gauges and the know how to trap the refrigerant (pump down) within the AC unit by closing the low and high side at the right time and shutting of power to the unit. Putting back in service is a different matter though.

  • Isn't putting it back in service part of moving it as defined in the question?
    – fixer1234
    Feb 6, 2018 at 1:39

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