You’re probably aware that R-22 (also known as Freon), the refrigerant commonly used in air conditioning equipment, has been phased out worldwide. The US Environmental Protection Agency determined that R-22 depletes the ozone layer, so as of January 2020, it can no longer be produced or imported. But it’s the import and manufacturing of R-22 and systems that use it that was made illegal. It is NOT the USE of existing R-22 systems and supplies.
What the ban on R-22 means for you
At this time, you don’t have to stop using R-22 air conditioners or to replace existing equipment as long as they are operating efficiently and not leaking. And your R-22 equipment can still be serviced. (See our previous blog post R-22 Refrigerant Phase Out to learn more.
However, now that R-22 can no longer be produced or brought into the country, its likely to become more difficult and expensive to obtain. As a result, repairing older R22 systems will become very expensive when the repair requires adding refrigerant to the system. Except for some simple electrical issues, many types of emergency repairs do require recharging the refrigerant. But as of this January, only recycled, reclaimed, or previously produced HCFC-22 are allowed to be used to service existing equipment.
The good news is that Levco has a significant amount of the refrigerant in stock as do many of our trusted suppliers. Therefore, we will continue to serve your equipment’s needs.
What you should do next
You need to determine which type of refrigerant your unit uses. Check the nameplate on the outdoor condenser. If there’s no nameplate, you can review your owner’s manual or contact the company services your unit. If you know the manufacturer and model number, you could also contact the manufacturer to get the information.
What are Your Options
If your unit uses R-22, you don’t need to do anything provided its working properly. However, with the supply dwindling, the price of R-22 is likely to increase.
One option is to use NU-22B. NU-22 is an R22 replacement and is compatible with all standard oils, equipment components, and materials used in R-22 systems. The system needs to be completely flushed out of all the old R-22 before adding the NU-22.
If you’ve been getting by with an air conditioner that’s leaking refrigerant by periodically adding more R22 refrigerant-which we DO NOT recommend – now is a good time to talk to us about replacing the system.
One of the best replacements for R-22 is R-407C. It has a low capacity loss relative to R-22 and is less expensive than many other R-22 replacement refrigerants. However, you cannot simply add a different refrigerant to an R-22 system. And it probably isn’t worth trying to retrofit the system to accept a new type of refrigerant. With R-407C you just need to change the condenser unit located outside the house.
Update To An R410A System
Another option is to update your entire system to one that uses an alternative refrigerant, like R-410A, to be compliant with the EPA’s regulations. R-410A became the new standard for residential AC systems in 2015 because it is a hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) that doesn’t contribute to ozone depletion. Because R-410A can absorb and release more heat than R-22, your air conditioning compressor can run cooler, reducing the risk of compressor burnout due to overheating.
Although a total system replacement is quite an investment, it may end up being more cost-effective than simply “riding it out” for a while. You especially may want to consider going ahead and replacing your unit if:
- It’s at least 10 years old already.
- You’ve experienced consistent cooling issues.
- Your energy bills have begun to increase.
- You’re now on a first-name basis with your A/C repairman.
Caring for your home’s HVAC equipment can be a challenge if you don’t have the right people on your side. When you partner with a company like Levco, you don’t have to sweat the details. Levco is the premier provider of Heating & Cooling service as well as fuel oil delivery in Fairfield County, CT. Since 1980, Levco has been family owned and operated, offering the highest quality service to thousands of homeowners. Stay up to date with Levco by liking our page on Facebook and don’t forget to check back here for more information on heating and cooling!