For the past few decades, a lot of the ways the world operates have changed to be better for our environment, and that is especially true in the HVAC industry. There are worldwide efforts to eliminate chemicals that hurt the ozone layer. AC systems use refrigerant, which is a known threat to our ozone layer.
The biggest regulatory change to happen recently was here in the United States at the start of 2020. Hardly any homeowners felt any impact from that change right away. But now, a year later, more people who rely on air conditioners for cooling their home will be dealing with the impact of this change.
Our team at Tiger Heating & Air stays on top of any advancements and all regulatory changes affecting the HVAC industry. We want to provide you with the information to understand this new R-22 ban so you know how to make the decisions that are best for your home and budget.
The 2020 change affects a chemical known as R22. It is a refrigerant that has been used since the 1950s in air conditioners for homes and businesses. The chemical is most known as Freon, which was the trademark chosen by DuPont Corporation, its first manufacturer.
Even back in the 50s when R22 first came out, people were aware of the damage that refrigerants could do to the ozone layer. Refrigerants in large quantities can deplete the ozone layer and reduce the protection it gives us from the sun’s harmful UV radiation. But, ironically, that was why it was created. It was replacing more harmful refrigerants like CFC-11 and CFC-12 that were in common use at that time.
But while R22 was less damaging than the refrigerants of the day back then, when released into the atmosphere, it causes 1800 times more damage than carbon dioxide. Fortunately, now, 70 years later, we are able to make even less dangerous refrigerants.
Governments across the globe took on the goal to eliminate R22 entirely. Regulatory steps to stop using this AC refrigerant have varied across the world. The U.K. and the European Union have already phased it out completely. While the U.S. is on a similar path, we are a few steps behind.
Here in the United States, selling any new equipment that uses R22 was banned in 2010. But production of it could continue. Maintenance companies could usethat AC refrigerant on already-installed air conditioning systems that are in good working order and do not leak.
But since January 1st, 2020, no more R22 could be produced. And while existing or recycled amounts can still be used on old air conditioning units, that time is almost up. We simply have no way to know how much more R22 still remains today.
How old is your AC system? If your air conditioner was installed before 2010, it could be using that AC refrigerant. The older it is, the more likely it is using R22. If your air conditioner was put in prior to 2003, the first year R22 restrictions went into place, it is almost certainly using it.
Homes that have old AC units are the first ones to be affected by this R-22 ban. Those old units are likely to require significant maintenance work. Repairs could now cost you significantly more if that work requires adding R22, as it becomes nearly impossible to find.
Wondering if you have a system that uses R22? It is not hard to find out. Go to your outdoor AC unit (the condenser) and look for a nameplate or sticker. That will list what refrigerant your system uses. You may see it as R22 or listed as HCFC-22. You should also be able to find this information in your AC’s user manual. If you cannot find the answer, feel free to reach out to us at Tiger Heating & Air at 361-852-4450 and we will come out to inspect your system.
The replacement for R22 is R410A, most known as Puron®. It first came on the market in 1991 by the Honeywell organization. There are identical refrigerants to R410A that are available from other manufacturers under different names. This newer refrigerant is much more environmentally friendly than Freon. It does not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer.
If you discover your air conditioner uses refrigerant R22, you do not have many options. And no matter which option you choose, you are going to have to deal with additional expenses.
You Cannot Substitute Refrigerants. Unlike being able to choose a different oil for your car, AC refrigerants are not interchangeable. You cannot just put in R410A in a system that was designed to use R22.
It is possible to have an AC system modified to work with a different refrigerant but doing this sort of retrofit is likely to eventually cost you more than completely replacing your system. Plus, this modification will probably void the manufacturer’s warranty on your HVAC equipment.
If you have an old air conditioner and it is working just fine, you don’t need to do anything right away. But when you eventually run into needing maintenance or repair needs, you will likely be faced with making a quick decision.
Here are your three basic options:
Right now, is the best time to consider your options. When it is a blistering hot Corpus Christi day and your air conditioner stops working, that is exactly the wrong time to make a big decision. You may feel stressed looking for the quickest solution, which may not always be the best one.
Plus waiting until it is hot and homeowners across south Texas are heavily relying upon their home’s cooling system poses another problem. AC repair techs are all busy. Trying to find a reputable company with trained and experienced technicians may take more time than you want to wait in the sweltering heat. If you do not have air conditioning, you may be tempted to sacrifice quality service for fast service by whoever is available to fix it that day.
Do not leave a potential air conditioning problem up in the air until it’s too late. Contact Tiger Heating & Air here in Corpus Christi before the it really starts heating up. We can help make sure you have a reliable system that will keep your home cool for years to come.