Air conditioners installed before 2010 run on R22 refrigerant. The refrigerant, also known as hydrochlorofluorocarbon 22 (HCFC-22) is being phased out now because it contributes to global warming and ozone depletion. R22 refrigerant has been in use in heat pumps, central air conditioners, car AC systems, mini-splits, and other refrigeration equipment for several years now. It works by absorbing and removing heat from the space. You should consider replacing R22 refrigerant before the clock runs out.
Reason for Phasing Out R22 Refrigerant
R22 gas is a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming and depletion of ozone layer. Ozone is necessary for absorbing harmful UV radiation. This makes it important for eliminating the use of greenhouse gases if possible. US Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer are governing the phasing out.
Does Your Air Conditioning System Make Use of R22?
Your air conditioning system probably uses R22 refrigerant if it was installed before 2010. You can identify the type of refrigerant used by checking the nameplate on the unit.
Timeline Regarding R22 Phase Out
R22 refrigerant was phased out by January 1st, 2020. New or imported R22 refrigerant is not allowed after this date in the United States. Technicians can now only use reclaimed, recycled and previously produced R22 for servicing equipment.
Safer Alternative to R22 Refrigerant
All cooling equipment and air conditioners being manufactured right now make use of hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants. R410A is one of the most common refrigerants. R134a, R407C and R407A are a few other safer alternatives. These refrigerants are similarly effective at cooling interior spaces. They don’t possess ozone depleting characteristics and have low Global Warming Potential (GWP).
R22 Refrigerant Replacement Options
You don’t need to replace your existing system if it is operating in a normal way. However, if you think that your system needs servicing these are a few options at your disposal:
- Use R22: R22 supply is more expensive and limited. However, it can still be used for servicing existing air conditioners. You need to ensure that the technician doesn’t just top off leaky air conditioners but repairs all damaged refrigerant lines. However, you should know that R22 refrigerant will increase in price as it becomes less available.
- Use “Drop-in” Refrigerant: Certain refrigerants can be used as a “drop-in” refrigerant instead of R22. Most of these refrigerants work alright, but few of them result in decreased performance and reliability. Drop-ins should only be used for temporary and quick repairs.
- Replace the System: You should consider installing a new system if you want to save money on repairs and do your bit for the environment. This is a poignant idea if your system is older than 10 years. Acceptable refrigerants such as R410s come in newer systems. This equipment enhances the resale value of your Northern California home.
R410A Instead of R22 in Air Conditioners
R410A cannot be used in a R22 charged unit since they are not compatible. Your air conditioning system could get damaged beyond repair if you mix the two refrigerants. You cannot dispose of a R22 air conditioner with your regular garbage. You need to have a technician drain the refrigerant lines for safely disposing off the equipment.