On January 1, 2020, R-22 refrigerant became illegal to produce or import in the United States. So what does this mean for all the homeowners that have HVAC systems that currently use R-22 refrigerant? Thankfully, distributors and HVAC contractors have had plenty of notice on this ban and many have purchased a large stock of R-22 that can still be used.
What is the R-22 phase-out?
Since 1992, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set into motion some big changes to phase out HCFC’s (hydrochlorofluorocarbons). R-22 (sometimes called Freon) has been the refrigerant of choice for almost four decades in residential heat pump and air conditioning systems. However, R-22 is an HCFC that contributes to ozone depletion. In 2010, the EPA began preventing HVAC equipment manufacturers from producing new heat pumps and air conditioners containing R-22 and production of the refrigerant itself was reduced by 75 percent. Since then, the EPA has decreased the amount of R-22 able to be produced and imported each year until January 1, 2020.
Do I need to replace my R-22 system?
No. If your current R-22 HVAC system is working properly you don’t need to change anything. It is not illegal to own a system that utilizes R-22. The only reason your system would be low on freon would be due to a leak.
Can my R-22 system still be repaired?
While many repair parts do not require any refrigerant, there are some that do. These refrigerant related repairs may be more expensive due to high demand of R-22 and it may be more cost beneficial to replace the system verses making the repair. In some cases, it is possible to use alternative blended refrigerants instead of R-22. Depending on the system, converting to an EPA approved blended refrigerant can either be simple or more in depth and expensive.
What about alternative refrigerants?
Manufacturers have been busy these last few years working on refrigerants that can be used in R-22 systems and there are multiple options available. These refrigerants (R-407c, TdX20, R-427A, etc.) are blends of various types of coolants. They can be used in existing R-22 systems but do have some drawbacks. For one, systems using any of these blends do not operate at full capacity. There is typically a loss of 10% or more in efficiency. Another disadvantage of these refrigerant blends is the amount of labor and modifications that need to be made. Any existing R-22 in the system must be evacuated and depending on the type of system and proposed blend some valves, oil, and/or dryers may need replacement as well.
Davis Heating & AC is always here for any questions you have about your heating and cooling system. We service Onslow and Carteret counties and surrounding areas.