R-22 Refrigerant: What To Do Before It’s Phased Out

Your air conditioner lives and breathes by the strength of its refrigerant. This chemical acts as a heat carrier that allows your HVAC unit to cool your environment. R-22 has dominated the industry ever since global bans started removing chlorofluorocarbons from the market, but that’s set to change. This popular refrigerant has more ozone depletion potential than most of its rivals, so the Environmental Protection Agency has, at last, reached the end of its phaseout period. HCFC-142b will be banned simultaneously.

Reasons for the Phaseout

The EPA began phasing out R-22 and HCFC-142b in 2010. Both compounds are highly toxic and contribute to ozone layer depletion. Refrigerants like R-32 and R-290 have zero depletion potential and low global warming potential. For that reason, the United States has become part of a global drive to reduce HCFC consumption. The ozone layer protects our planet from the sun’s UVB rays. If its depletion isn’t curbed, the Earth will lose its ability to support life.

How the Phaseout Is Structured

During the first decade of the HCFC phaseout, R-22 production, import, and usage were limited to the service of existing appliances. In 2020, the phaseout strengthened, with usage limited to recycled and stockpiled compounds. The last stage of the phaseout will draw to a close on January 1, 2030. At that time, all Freon production and importation will be completely banned. The phase-down is structured to give homeowners plenty of time to adjust.

How the Ban Affects You

The average air conditioner has a life span of 15 to 20 years. If you bought an R-22-reliant AC just before the first phase of the ban, it should naturally reach the end of its service life before the ultimate phaseout. Over the next eight years, it will still be legal to use your CFC-reliant equipment, but you will have to rely on stockpiled refrigerant. Availability will gradually decline, though, and there are no guarantees of future supplies. As demand rises, prices will increase, so this is the time to take action.

Your Options

It’s no longer possible to buy a firsthand air conditioner that relies on CFCs. You can still buy surplus Freon before the full ban takes effect, but future supply will be restricted. You aren’t legally required to replace your unit just yet, but this is certainly not the time to invest in expensive repairs. If you have an old unit, it’s best to be proactive about your solutions. Refrigerants aren’t interchangeable, so if you’re struggling to access R-22, you’ll need a more drastic solution.

Upgrade Your HVAC System

The simplest but most expensive option is to buy a new unit that relies on a legal refrigerant. You can also retrofit your system for Puron refrigerant. This upgrade will increase your line set size and flush contaminants out of your system. Once that discharge is clear, your technician will fit your unit with new filter driers and safely handle toxic leaks.

A new air conditioner could save you money in more ways than one. Contemporary HVAC equipment can reduce your energy expenses by 20% to 50%.

Depend On Mr. Holland’s Home Services for Your HVAC Needs

Mr. Holland’s Home Services is the perfect partner to have on your side as you reach the end of the Freon ban. Give us your AC serial number, and we’ll tell you if it uses R-22. We’ll help you find the perfect solution for your budget if it does. We’ve been industry leaders since the ’90s, so we’ve racked up decades of experience as an EPA-certified provider. That translates into exceptional results, so call us at 262-677-1037 to discuss your options!

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