R-22: Going, Going, Gone!
You may (or may not) have heard about the phasing out of R-22, a refrigerant soon to be in short supply. As this process could potentially affect a large number of homeowners, we decided to answer some commonly-asked questions concerning the subject.
What is R-22?
R-22, commonly referred to as Freon™, is an AC refrigerant used in residential and commercial air conditioning systems.
Why is R-22 being phased out?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed R-22 to be harmful to the ozone layer, contributing to climate change and harming the environment. As a result, a gradual phasing out of the use of R-22 over the period of several years has taken place. By the year 2020, R-22 will not be produced or imported, so its use will be limited to that of recovered, recycled or stockpiled reserves. You can read more from the EPA here.
What is replacing R-22 for newer air conditioning units?
The most common replacement for R-22 is a refrigerant known as R-410A. It's an environmentally-safer alternative that doesn't contribute to damaging the ozone layer.
How do you know if your AC unit is affected?
If your AC system was manufactured before 2010, it most likely runs on R-22, but some systems manufactured through 2015 were also made to use R-22. If you're unsure about the age of your home's heating and cooling system, you can look for the label on your outside unit. The type of refrigerant used will be listed on the label. R-22 may be listed by name or appear as HCFC-22. R-410A will most likely appear as-is.
Does this mean you have to replace your entire air conditioning system?
No. There are no mandatory requirements from the EPA for replacing AC systems that use R-22 refrigerant. However, due to the end of R-22 production, supplies will become limited in the future, driving prices up for servicing these older systems.
Will your old AC unit simply become a money pit?
An aging heating and cooling system will inevitably require more frequent maintenance and AC service, becoming increasingly costly to repair over time. In addition, if your AC or heat pump has developed leaks over time, thereby causing it to work harder than it should, your monthly energy bills will also increase.
Should you consider replacing your air conditioning system now or continue with regular maintenance of your old unit?
Deciding between a new heat pump installation or continued maintenance can be tough. What's best for your home and budget is a decision unique to you and one that requires careful consideration. Consulting a trusted HVAC company to evaluate the condition of your AC unit is a good place to start. Chaffee Air is always available to give expert advice when you're weighing the options. A consultation with one of our heating and air specialists can help guide you in the right direction.