If your air conditioner was manufactured prior to January 1, 2010, there’s a good chance that your air conditioner’s refrigerant is R-22 (AKA. Freon). In fact, R-22 has been used in heat pumps and air conditioners for decades. However, this refrigerant is being phased out of production, and in 2020, new supplies will no longer be manufactured in the U.S.
To help clear up some of the confusion surrounding the R-22 phaseout and ban on production, here are answers to some of the most common questions on these topics.
What Exactly Will Be Banned by the R-22 Ban?
When people hear “R-22 ban,” it triggers the idea of a complete ban on every supply of R-22, which is not actually the case.
Starting on January 1, 2020, the ban on R-22 will prohibit these things specifically:
The production of new R-22 by domestic manufacturers
The import of new R-22 into the U.S.
The ban does not apply to pre-existing supplies of R-22.
My Air Conditioner Uses R-22: Will I Have to Replace It?
No, air conditioners that use R-22 will not have to be replaced once the R-22 ban starts in 2020. You will be allowed to use your air conditioner just like before.
What If My Air Conditioner Needs a Repair With R-22?
The R-22 ban applies to producing and importing new supplies of R-22, so legally you can get your air conditioner serviced with a pre-existing supply of R-22. However, because R-22 is being phased out and because no new supplies of R-22 will be made or imported into the US after 2020 begins, it will become harder to obtain this refrigerant. R-22 will become more scarce and, therefore, more expensive.
If a repair will involve more than one expensive aspect of your system, it’s sometimes better to invest in a new air conditioner. If you’re facing the “repair vs. replace” dilemma, an HVAC technician can help you weigh your options. A good rule of thumb is if the cost of the repair is more than half the cost of a new system, you’re generally better off investing in a new system.
Why Is R-22 Being Phased Out?
Research has shown that R-22 (also known as HCFC-22) is an ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC). In order to help preserve Earth’s ozone layer, a number of developed countries, including the United States, have agreed to phase out HCFC-22 and other HCFCs. Ultimately, the U.S. intends to phase out all HCFCs by 2030.
Did you know: Even EPA-approved refrigerants can have harmful effects on human health and the environment if not handled by trained professionals. This is why taking the “DIY route” with refrigerant is never recommended.
Can I Switch to a Different Refrigerant in My Current Air Conditioner?
The answer is both yes and no. Your air conditioner is designed to only work with one type of refrigerant, so you cannot switch refrigerants without making changes to your air conditioner first. It may be possible to get your air conditioner retrofitted so that it can accept a refrigerant that’s deemed an appropriate substitute by the EPA. (Click here for a current list of EPA-approved substitutes in residential air conditioning and heat pumps.)
In some cases, rather than retrofitting your current air conditioner, it might make more sense to put that money toward replacing the system with a more current, energy-efficient one so that you can benefit from lower energy bills. After all, if your system was manufactured before 2010, it could very well be in the latter half of its lifespan.
Need Assistance With Your Air Conditioner?
Our specialists at Elevation Mechanical have the expertise to help. We offer competitive pricing and keep the best interests of our customers in mind when providing recommendations. Call us at (719) 399-4995 for service in Colorado Springs.