If your air conditioner was installed before 2010 and you don’t know what R22 is then you should probably learn. Refrigerant (or many people know the brand of AC refrigerant called Freon®) is what keeps the air coming from your air conditioning system cool, so it’s undoubtedly incredibly important. Most air conditioning units older than 10 years use an AC refrigerant called R22. This refrigerant was introduced in the 1950s and became the predominant AC refrigerant in the residential heating and cooling industry.
Fast-forward a few decades and the world realized that R22 refrigerants were aiding in the depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer. Not cool. So the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in cooperation with other agencies and groups, began a phase-out of many ozone-depleting agents, including R22 refrigerant.
By the start of 2010 the production and import of R22 would be prohibited. The loophole was current equipment would have an exception. So the production and import ended, but R22 was still available for sell and use until January 2015. Then, by 2020, R22 would essentially no longer be applied, at least in the U.S.
So here’s a brief summary before we get into how this will affect you:
- R22 is no longer manufactured in North America
- You can get recycled R22 now to service existing HVAC systems that uses this certain AC refrigerant (or Freon)
- The amount charged for R22 is increasing because of the limited supply, and will no longer be available for use at all by 2020
So how does this affect you?
If your heating and air conditioning system was built after January 2010, the EPA Freon rules and regulations will probably not apply to you.
If your HVAC equipment was produced prior to January 2010, particularly if it’s older than a decade, you have a couple options:
1) Purchase an upgraded, more environmentally-friendly system, which uses the approved air conditioner refrigerant.
2) Call an expert to replace the parts in your current AC system to help make it compatible with approved air conditioner refrigerant. This is not recommended because it could void your warranty(ies).
3) Stick with using recycled R22 until 2020.
The most straightforward option is to purchase a new, upgraded air conditioner, particularly if your current air conditioner is already over 10 years old. Even though we know making an unexpected purchase may not be the easiest option, D&D Air Conditioning has several options that help make the purchase truly affordable. A new piece of AC equipment will also be more efficient and give you superior comfort, helping to lower your energy costs.
The next option would not be a definite price and isn’t a lasting option. You could have your system modified by a heating and air conditioning expert and switch over to an approved AC refrigerant. This involves a lot more than just flushing out the system and adding new AC refrigerant ; it also requires that you replace the existing parts with new, compatible parts. Your manufacturer will probably not pay for the parts to make this transition because retrofitting your AC system will likely void the warranty. It’s also not a lasting solution and may only give you up to three more years of use. It’s a temporary fix, and could be less expensive than a new air conditioner today, but buying a new upgraded AC system will probably benefit most homeowners in dependability, satisfaction, and long-term comfort.
The final choice is to stay the status quo. You can continue using recycled R22 air conditioning refrigerant (Freon) for the foreseeable future. While this sounds like a great alternative, you can come across a few issues. The cost of servicing old R22 A/C systems is starting to exceed several hundred dollars (easily a down payment on a new system). You may also see the prices climb as demand continues to rise on a substance that is no longer produced or widely available.
If you aren’t sure what type of AC refrigerant (Freon) your air conditioning system uses, we can help. Call D&D Air Conditioning today and we can provide an inspection to confirm if you are currently using R22 and, if so, which alternative works best for you.