What Homeowners Should Know Before Replacing the R-22 AC Refrigerant

 In HVAC

R-22 has long been the refrigerant of choice for home air conditioners.

Unfortunately, the environmental effects of HCFC compounds are devastating. In response, the EPA has ordered the complete phasing out of all HCFC gasses for use in refrigeration.

For the homeowner, the dwindling supply of R-22 means that they’ll have to look into replacement options.

If you’re in that spot then you’ll need to know more before you get into replacing things. Read on and we’ll discuss the key things every homeowner needs to know about R-22 replacement.

The Phaseout of R-22

R-22, due to its vital role in refrigeration and air conditioning, wasn’t banned all at once. Instead, over time the gas was gradually phased out.

The dictate to lower the amount of HCFC gasses actually comes from an international treaty, not just the EPA. In this case, the relevant treaty is the Montreal Protocol.

This began with restrictions on the installation of new systems functioning on R-22 while allowing maintenance. These went into effect in 2010.

As of 2014 systems which run on R-22 are illegal to service if the repair requires breaking into the line sets of the system. Your cooler or air conditioner isn’t illegal in and of itself at this time.

Currently, all R-22 is considered hazardous material with no legitimate use, although it can still be found on the grey market at extremely high prices.

The full phaseout goes into effect at the beginning of 2020, after which no R-22 is going to be allowed into or manufactured in the U.S.

Your Options for R-22 Replacement

With the looming complete ban nearing, you should seriously consider your air conditioning unit if it runs on this gas. Chances are that if your unit was installed before January 1, 2010 you’re running on it but most units are clearly labeled if you’re unsure.

There are two ways to handle it.

Retrofitting

Some units can be retrofitted to work with newer, safer, more environmentally friendly refrigerants. Any HVAC contractor should be able to tell you if this is possible.

It may be a short term solution depending on the age of the system but it’s the cheapest way to make sure you’re in compliance.

For a homeowner, it’s also important to consider the effect of a “drop-in” retrofit on the warranty of the system.

Replacement

Replacing the entire unit will be costly, but in the long run it’s the way to go. Even the best retrofit kit may can’t extend the life of the other components in the system.

Since any unit which is running on R-22 will be at least ten years old by the time of the full phaseout it’s definitely a viable option. Whether you wait for the unit to experience a failure with the refrigerant or not is up to you.

Get Ahead of the Curve

We think that there’s no reason to wait until something happens to your R-22 system. Whether you opt for a retrofit or a replacement largely depends on your own budget and needs.

But the truth is that you’re going to require a professional service no matter what you decide to do.

If you’re local to Joplin, Missouri or the surrounding area then give us a call and we’ll see what we can do to help you remain in compliance for R-22 replacement.

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