It never fails. It’s the hottest day of the year and your air conditioning system is blowing air that barely even feels cool.
At this point, you’re probably thinking that you’ll call your local AC repair company and the problem will be quickly resolved, but there is one important thing you should know if you have an R22 air conditioner.
The EPA is phasing out R22 coolant.
According to the EPA, that means, “Phaseout of R-22 and R142b HCFC-22 (also called R-22) and HCFC-142b are the next two HCFCs that the United States will phase out. One January 1, 2020 the ban on remaining production and import of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b took effect. After 2020, the servicing of systems with R-22 will rely on recycled or stockpiled quantities”.
Does this mean you can’t charge your system? Does this mean you’ll have to live without AC until you get a new system?
Before you get too worried, I’d like to tell you that there are options. Keep reading to find out what these are and what you can do if your R22 air conditioner needs some work.
First Things First — The Issues with R22 Coolant
R22 is the easy way to say hydrochlorofluorocarbon, and it a form of coolant used in refrigerators, car air conditioning systems, and home air conditioners. This coolant has been the most popular coolant used in these things for decades.
R22 was discovered in 1928 by three scientists and has basically been used ever since. So you shouldn’t be shocked that your AC system operates with this form of coolant.
It wasn’t until years later that, though, that scientists would link chlorine, a key ingredient in R22, to damaging effects to the ozone layer.
When discovered, the EPA stepped in and created laws that would soon prohibit manufacturers from making devices that used this coolant. This law started on January 1, 2010.
From that point on, manufacturers began replacing R22 coolant with safer options, including R507, R407-C, R410A, and many others.
An important thing for you to know is that the EPA did not mandate that every system with R22 had to be removed and replaced from homes. The law did require a mandatory phase-out of this coolant though.
While you could continue to purchase R22 coolant when your system needed a recharge after this law was enacted, it is becoming harder to find this coolant today.
And, this is just the start of it. In a few years, it’s likely to be even harder to find R22.
Start by Checking Out the Age of Your System
While low coolant is just one of the reasons systems stop producing cold air, it is one of the most common reasons. If you suspect this is the problem, you will probably wonder what you should do if this is the problem you are experiencing.
If it is, you’ll probably want to know what options you have with your system.
In this situation, a good place to start is by looking at the age of the system.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that an average central air conditioning system lasts 15 to 20 years. How old is yours?
If yours is only 5 or 10 years old you might assume that it should be fine to keep, and this might be true. But, if it uses R22 coolant, it’s probably on the verge of being a decade old or even older.
A system that is a decade old could last a while or not. It certainly won’t be operating at a highly efficient rate though.
Simply put, a system that still uses R22 is probably nearing the age where it could be ready to be replaced. By replacing your R22 air conditioner, you can avoid problems due to the phase-out process mandated by the EPA.
You could reap other benefits too but replacing it is not your only choice. Instead, you have three main options.
Option 1: Get the System Charged
One option you have is to get the system charged. Yes, this might still be possible at this point but may not be for much longer. HVAC companies may still have access to some R22 but because it is now banned, the supply is very low.
This is definitely a plus but there is a downside.
The downside is that once HVAC companies cannot find R22 anymore, you will not be able to get a simple recharge of your system. Secondly, when products become hard to find, the prices tend to skyrocket.
Option 2: Get Your System Retrofitted
A second option you might want to explore is having a company retrofit your system. Retrofitting a system is a fancy way of saying “change it over.”
To change over a system, it would require replacing key components on the system so that it works properly with a newer type of coolant rather than with R22.
You see, you cannot simply use a different form of coolant in your system if you can’t get your hands on R22. Each type of coolant operates at a different level of pressure and switching to a new coolant will require replacing parts.
One last downside I should explain is that this is not an option for all systems.
It will only work with certain types, and you wouldn’t be able to find this out without having a technician check your system.
Option 3: Reap the Most Benefits by Replacing Your R22 Air Conditioner
The final option you have is to replace the entire system. Yes, this will cost the most but will offer several key advantages:
- You’ll never have to worry about finding R22 when your system is low.
- You’ll have a system that operates at a much higher efficiency.
- Your system will produce colder air.
- You’ll likely see an improvement in indoor air quality.
- You’ll have a brand-new system!
Replacing an entire air conditioning system is often the best route to take when you have issues with an air conditioning system that contains R22. The next step would be to find an ac replacement company you can trust with your installation.
Explore Every Option You Have
We have expert technicians at Scottsdale Air Heating & Cooling, and we can help you explore every option you have if you have an R22 air conditioner.
In addition, if you are interested in reading more about the R-22 phaseout, we have included links to articles and sites below for your convenience:
Helpful Environmental Protection Agency Links
- Phasing Out HCFC Refrigerants To Protect The Ozone Layer What you need to know when servicing or replacing an air conditioner in your home.
- Phaseout of ozone-depleting substances – Homeowners and Consumers: Frequently Asked Questions
Air Conditioning Heating & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) Links
- Refrigerants and Your Air Conditioning System: What you need to know about the HCFC refrigerant phaseout and servicing or purchasing a home cooling system.
Read our blog to learn more about some of the frequently asked questions about air conditioning and heating in the Phoenix valley. You can also view our services and special promotions.
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Is your Air Conditioning System more than 10 years old? Contact the air conditioning and heating experts at Scottsdale Air Heating & Cooling to get all of your air conditioner and R22 questions answered. Call 480-467-3586 or request service online! *(Yes, We DO offer Financing Options).