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How Homeowners Can Navigate the R-22 Refrigerant Phase-Out

The HVAC industry is undergoing a significant transition with the phase-out of R-22 refrigerant, also known as Freon. This refrigerant has long been the source of cooling in air conditioning systems, but due to its harmful impact on the ozone layer, its production and importation are being gradually phased out.

As a result, homeowners and businesses relying on R-22-based systems are facing challenges in maintaining and repairing their equipment. This phase-out has prompted HVAC manufacturers to shift towards more environmentally friendly alternatives, which comply with current regulations and offer greater energy efficiency.

AC owners must adjust to the R-22 refrigerant phase-out by exploring options for maintaining their systems. This might involve converting to alternative refrigerants or upgrading to newer, eco-friendly equipment. Regular maintenance and staying informed about industry changes are key to ensuring efficient cooling solutions.

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What Is R-22 Refrigerant?

You may know about R-22 refrigerant by the name of its manufacturer, Freon. R-22 is, or was, the most widely utilized and accepted refrigerant in use. However, rigorous testing has told us that R-22 is extremely bad for the environment and is equally dangerous to humans themselves.

Because of this, R-22 is currently being phased out completely. The EPA has stated that as of 2020, R-22 will no longer be produced or imported into the United States. While it will no longer be made, you will still be able to use it in your AC unit.

When Will R-22 Be Phased Out?

After January 1, 2020, refrigerant manufacturers must completely cease all production and import of R-22. Until then, such cooling systems can be serviced and recharged if necessary. 

How Do You Know If Your System Uses R-22?

The refrigerant type used in your system is typically listed on the unit’s nameplate. For common central air systems, it’s usually found on the outdoor condenser.

How Does the R-22 Phase-Out Impact You?

If your air conditioner or heat pump was installed before 2005, then it most likely uses R-22. As time goes on, R-22 will become incredibly difficult for companies to obtain. Most systems installed after 2010 did not utilize R-22 and instead use safer, more environmentally-friendly R-410A.

While excess R-22 may still be available to buy, the price will increase. Additionally, since your AC unit was designed to rely on R-22 refrigerant, you cannot simply use another type of refrigerant. It may be better to simply replace your air conditioner outright.

Should You Replace Your R-22 Air Conditioner?

The R-22 Freon phase-out means you should replace your air conditioning system sooner rather than later. As the years pass, if problems with your system arise, such as leaks, you may not be able to replace the refrigerant, making your system useless.

To put it simply, you’ll benefit more in the long run by replacing your unit now. If your system still uses R-22, it also stands to reason that it is somewhat old, meaning a new system is already going to bring you an air conditioner that is:

  • More efficient
  • Costs less to operate
  • Needs less repair
  • Lasts longer

But even beyond that, you stand to benefit further. Since R-22 is getting phased out, it’s also becoming far more scarce and expensive. The Freon phase-out has been going on for years now, and every single year, the cost of R-22 increases appreciably. R-22 is already significantly more expensive than it was five years ago—and it’s only going to get higher as the deadline gets closer.

So, by getting a replacement now, you’ll have a system that is not only stronger, more efficient, and reliable, but also one that costs much less to maintain. Limiting access to R-22 is a clear sign you should replace your AC, as you will save money in the long run.

What Refrigerant Is Used in AC Units Nowadays?

The most common refrigerants used in air conditioners today include R-410A, also known as Puron, as well as R-32. These refrigerants are more environmentally friendly than R-22 and comply with current regulations regarding ozone depletion.

R-410A is widely used in newer air conditioning systems due to its higher efficiency and lower environmental impact compared to R-22. R-32 is gaining popularity as well for its improved performance and lower greenhouse gas emissions. However, the specific refrigerant used can vary depending on the manufacturer and model of the air conditioning unit.

If your air conditioner is blowing warm air, it may be out of refrigerant. It’s important to speak to a certified HVAC technician to inspect your unit and handle the refilling process.

Air Conditioner Replacement & R-22 System Upgrades

Is your current air conditioner reliant on R-22 refrigerant? GAC Services can help you find a new unit and replace it for you. We’ll advise you on the most energy-efficient models that will save you money in the long run.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for our air conditioning replacement services in Gaithersburg, Frederick County, Montgomery County, and Howard County, Maryland.

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At GAC, we understand how important a functioning HVAC system is for your home. This is why we offer flexible financing options to help you take care of your new HVAC purchase, so you can get back to taking care of what matters most to you.

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