The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have mandated phasing out refrigerants that have been commonly used for air conditioning and commercial refrigeration equipment for many years. R22 (also known as Freon), the standard HVAC refrigerant for decades, will become illegal to manufacture or import to the US at the end of 2019. In the meantime, supply is dwindling & prices are rising dramatically.
A central air conditioning system is a “closed loop” system, so you should never have to add more Freon….the old saying is “freon is forever”. Yet every year we have situations where refrigerant is low, meaning there is a leak somewhere. So, where does that leaked refrigerant leak to? That’s right, to our environment.
Now, replacing this refrigerant is another issue due to the sudden cap on R-22 production. If a unit uses R-22 and needs a refill due to a leaky system, the prices of the fluid have increased by over 500 percent since 2003, so it’s an expensive way to harm our environment.
The EPA has been gradually increasing the restrictions on the use of R22, and in December of 2019 the R22 phase out will be complete and it will be illegal to manufacture or import into the United States. Although there may still be some availability of current stock from sources here in the United States.
The cost could be excessive financially to add R22, and just financially you may see that replacing the leaking system is the better option. Some of those AC repairs may just cost a sum that isn’t worth investing in an old system.
Environmentally, the EPA has strict guidelines about refrigerants, and the production and importing of R22 into the US. But as of now nothing about prohibiting the use of R22 at this point. But that is something I look to possibly see changing in the near future.
The new refrigerant, R-410A, that is now being used is safe. This refrigerant’s main active component is fluorine instead of chlorine, which means it has no effect on the ozone layer. R-410A also has relative price stability and availability, making it the overall better option for cooling our homes. It has become the standard refrigerant in residential AC units for a good reason. And any new HVAC equipment purchases are produced using R-410A.
For more information regarding this phase out there is a wealth of information at https://www.epa.gov/ods-phaseout/phasing-out-hcfc-refrigerants-protect-ozone-layer.
At Meyers Heating & Air Conditioning, we provide the best AC replacement and repair services in Boulder County. If you are interested in replacing your old, R-22-fueled unit, contact us today at (303)442-6640 if we can be of help in anyway.