Refrigerant is an essential operating component of your air conditioner. What many people don’t realize is that there is more than one type of refrigerant, and one air conditioner may use a completely different type of refrigerant than another. For many older air conditioners that rely on R-22 refrigerant (commonly known as Freon), there is a noteworthy change coming in 2020.
Once 2020 arrives, domestic chemical manufacturers will no longer be allowed to produce R-22, and it will be illegal to import R-22 into the United States.
This change will not directly impact everyone who owns an air conditioner. In fact, as of January 1, 2010, it was illegal for AC manufacturers to make new air conditioning units that rely on R-22, so it is mainly owners of older air conditioners who may be affected. These possible effects are explained in more detail below.
In short, R-22 is being phased out in favor of more environmentally-friendly refrigerants. R-22 is also known as HCFC-22, which is an ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC). HCFCs have a negative impact on our planet’s ozone layer.
For this reason, the United States joined international efforts with other developed countries to phase out HCFCs under an agreement known as the Montreal Protocol. Over time, the U.S. has been decreasing the production and import of HCFCs. By 2030, HCFCs are supposed to be phased out altogether.
Most people don’t know off-hand what refrigerant their air conditioner uses. Not to worry. The owner’s manual is the first place to check the refrigerant type, but if you don’t have the owner’s manual, check to see if the refrigerant is listed on the condenser (AKA. the outdoor unit).
First, try to locate the nameplate, as that is most likely where the refrigerant will be displayed. If you’re unable to find the refrigerant listed anywhere on the unit, you can find the unit’s model number on the nameplate. Contact the manufacturer or check their website with that model number to see which refrigerant your air conditioner uses. If your air conditioner was serviced recently, the HVAC company that assisted you might also be able to tell you which refrigerant your AC uses.
Overall, you’re unlikely to be greatly impacted by the ban on the production and import of R-22 unless you need an air conditioner repair involving refrigerant. If your AC uses R-22, you will not be legally required to get rid of your air conditioner in 2020. You will still be able to keep your air conditioner and use it exactly as you have before.
However, if your air conditioner has a refrigerant leak or a problem of that nature, the repair will most likely be more expensive than the same repair would have been prior to the ban. Even though HVAC technicians will be legally able to use existing supplies of R-22 when repairing your AC, the ban on the production and import of this refrigerant will make it rarer and harder to obtain.
In some cases, an air conditioner that uses R-22 can have parts of its system replaced so that it can use an EPA-approved refrigerant, such as R-410A (AKA. Puron). However, in most cases, it would probably be wiser financially to use that money toward replacing your air conditioner with an updated, energy-efficient model that’s already made to use an EPA-approved refrigerant.
Did you know...
Even refrigerant that the EPA considers acceptable can pose a threat to the environment and human health if it’s handled by someone without proper training. At Choice Air Care, our technicians are certified and have all the professional qualifications to handle refrigerant issues safely and effectively. If you see ice forming on your air conditioner’s refrigerant line or if your air conditioner has stopped cooling your home, contact us at (972) 332-3927 or online.