By Sierra Air Conditioning & Heating

What is R-22 and what do you need to know about it?

You have probably heard of R-22 refrigerant before, but do you know what it is or why it is going away? R-22, also known as FreonTM 22 or HCFC-22 Freon, is an HCFC refrigerant used for residential and commercial air conditioning and heat pumps that are currently being phased out. Since January 1, 2010, the production and import of R-22 were banned in any new air conditioning units. The phase-out will be complete in 2020 and after that R-22 refrigerant will no longer be available as the production and import of any R-22 will be illegal. The only R-22 refrigerant that will be available will be through recycled or reclaimed options.

Why is R-22 refrigerant getting phased out?

R-22 refrigerant was deemed an environmental danger as it contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer. The U.S. government placed restrictions on the use of R-22 and issued the requirement that it must be eliminated from use in cooling systems by the year 2020. At this point, R-22 is no longer being used as a refrigerant in any new air conditioning systems, however, it is still being used in older equipment.

What does this mean if you currently have R22 running in your air conditioner?

There are replacement refrigerants for R-22, which are safer and meet the current compliant standards in air conditioning equipment. If you have an older unit that uses R-22 and need guidance finding a replacement refrigerant, please consult with our NATE- and EPA-certified Service Technicians who can give your recommendations about the best option to fit your needs.

If your air conditioner still uses R-22, here’s what you need to know:

  • You may continue to use R-22 in your existing system. There is currently no EPA requirement on servicing or usage of existing R-22 air conditioning units and they may be used indefinitely. However, if your system develops a leak or requires service, replacement refrigerants may be necessary.
  • Since the production of R-22 will cease completely after January 1, 2020, it will only be available through after-market sales. For example, you can purchase an R-22 that has been recovered from older systems and salvaged.
  • The demand for R-22 will rise and the availability of R-22 will become limited and probably scarce. With the ban on production, you cannot purchase R-22 new, so there is no guarantee that R-22 will even be easily available in the near future.
  • If you continue to use R-22 refrigerant, expect the price to increase dramatically. The prices have already risen and will continue to go up. By 2020, R-22 will most likely become very expensive to purchase.
  • There are substitutes for R-22 that may be available to service and recharge your air conditioner. If this is an option you are interested in, please consult with our trained NATE-certified and EPA-certified Service Technicians for recommendations for replacement refrigerant options.
  • With these factors in mind, it may be worth your while and more cost-effective in the long run to upgrade your system so you do not have to worry about the supply and demand of R-22 in the future. You will also be helping the environment and you will not have to worry about any of the policy changes regarding R-22.

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