“I have to find a new cleaning solvent before the end of the year?” We heard that question repeatedly at our booth at the MD&M West show, earlier this month in Anaheim. While the phase-out of HCFC-225 is old news for some, others have just begun the process of finding a regulatory-compliant replacement carrier fluid or cleaning solvent and some haven’t started the process at all.

HCFC-225, also known as AK-225, is a widely used cleaning solvent that is being banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from production by December 31, 2014. Although finding and transitioning to a replacement solvent may seem complex and stressful, asking a potential supplier questions up front can help ensure a successful transition to a compliant solution that best matches your cleaning needs. Here are three questions you should make sure to ask before making the switch:

1. Is the replacement solvent guaranteed to work as well or better than your current fluid?

By asking this question, you’re trying to find out if the supplier is able to provide you with a solvent that specifically meets your cleaning requirements. If the provider has a variety of solvent chemistries, there is a greater likelihood that they’ll be able to provide a formulation that is better suited to your exact needs.

2. Has the new solvent been tested and proven to work with your company’s parts?

Ideally, the solvent provider will offer a test lab with vapor degreasers to test your exact parts in different solvents until they find the best solution for your specific needs. This kind of testing will also ensure that the replacement solvent will work in your current machine without extensive and costly retrofitting or needing a new machine altogether.

3. Is the new solvent backed by a team of engineers with expertise capable of on-site assistance of technical issues that may arise during the conversion? Will technical experts also routinely visit after the conversion to make sure that everything is running smoothly?

Some solvent providers are experts in the chemistry only, but may not have the technical expertise to help ensure a successful transition from start to finish. Instead, you should look for one provider that can partner with you to provide strong, on-site technical support to make the transition process go as smoothly as possible. Some providers may even be able to help you lower your cleaning costs, improve worker safety and protect the environment.

Starting your search for a replacement with these three questions is important because they can help save you time in narrowing down your options for both solvents and providers. The answers can also save you time, money and peace of mind down the road by ensuring you’re selecting a solvent and provider that will work well for the long-term. And with December 31 rapidly approaching, there’s no time to waste!

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