If you have some experience with air conditioners, you're probably already familiar with refrigerants and may have an understanding of how this substance helps keep your home cool on hot days. You may not know that the former gold standard for refrigerant needs, R-22, has been dethroned in recent years and is being phased out.
So, what is R22?
R22 refrigerant (also known as R22 freon and HCFC-22 freon) is a chemical used in both air conditioners and heat pumps to cool your home. On Jan. 1, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the production and import of R22 because of its particularly harmful impact on the ozone layer when released into the air.
Although some HVAC systems still use R22 today, its use will eventually be eliminated in the U.S., so all current and future homeowners must be prepared for the transition.
Have Questions About Refrigerant? Call Advantage Air Mechanical.
If you have an older AC unit, it might be time to contact the highly trained professionals at Advantage Air Mechanical to discuss your options for installing a replacement. Our technicians never work on commission, so their recommendations are based on which units are the best options for your home. Call us today at (520) 792-9400 to discuss your R-22 AC replacement alternatives.
What Is R-22?
R-22 is a refrigerant used in residential air conditioners nationwide for almost a century. Although you may have never heard of R-22, you might be familiar with its more common name, Freon. R-22 was developed in 1928 to replace its predecessor, R-12, which was found to be incredibly toxic to the environment. Once it became available as an alternative, R-22 was soon the darling of refrigerants.
Sealed into a closed system on AC units, R-22 is responsible for transferring heat from inside your home and replacing it with cooler air. Because the substance exchanges heat quickly, it easily absorbs interior heat and changes to a hot gas within the coils. This gas is carried to the outdoor coils that are cooled by the condenser fan. From there, it is returned to its colder liquid state and runs back into the home, where another fan blows over to create the cool air you feel coming from the vents.
This system was considered the standard until scientists discovered R-22 harms the environment, just like the refrigerant it replaced. Unfortunately, it was such a widely used substance that no meaningful steps were taken, and AC unit manufacturing remained unchanged.
Why Is R-22 Being Phased Out?
It turns out, R-22 is pretty damaging to the ozone layer, so an alternative needed to be found. In the early 1990s, Honeywell International developed R-410A, also known as Puron, to serve as a replacement. This refrigerant was designed to eliminate the environmental effects of R-22 and was rapidly adopted as the preferred refrigerant. In 1992, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set in motion an R-22 phase-out plan to be completed by 2020.
With Puron now available, the United States ordered the manufacture of R-22 appliances to be prohibited as of 2010 and replaced with R-410A alternatives. Existing units that used R-22 have still been legal, but any new products were required to use R-410A. This means any AC units purchased after 2010 are already compliant with the new rules for refrigerant, making them environmentally friendly.
On the first day of 2020, the next phase of the plan went into place, making the production and import of R-22 officially banned in the United States. Existing older model HVAC systems that still rely on Freon for AC unit cooling are still scattered in households across the country but will naturally be phased out as old age takes them and compliant newer units replace them.
So, what does this mean for you if your AC unit is older than 2010? If your vintage AC system is still functioning, there's no need to throw it out just yet. You can still schedule Advantage Air Mechanical AC repair services for minor fixes as long as it doesn't involve recharging the refrigerant in your unit. You might also find a few suggestions for DIY modifications, but these would likely be a wasted effort.
On average, air conditioners can last between 15 and 20 years. If your AC unit was made before 2010, it's already over 13 years old. The money you'll need to spend to maintain it, on top of the expenses incurred from modifying it, would be better spent on purchasing a new unit. Get in touch with the Advantage Air Mechanical team and know you can work with us confidently in selecting your new AC unit since our experts are never paid on commission and will only offer suggestions that are the best option for your situation.
Once you get a new unit installed, you'll have peace of mind that your system is running efficiently, is covered under warranty, and is following EPA guidelines to ensure your comfort isn't damaging the environment. With the proper maintenance and timely repairs, you're starting the clock on a full 15 to 20 years, so you don't have to stress that your AC will start blowing hot in the peak days of summer.
Finally, the new R-410A refrigerant is significantly more efficient at transferring heat than R-22. This means your home will cool faster when your AC is running, and it will take less energy to hit your target temperature. That results in lower energy bills for you, making R-410A a little easier on your budget as well.
Looking for a Knowledgeable HVAC Team To Help You Get the Most Out of Your AC System?
Look no further than Advantage Air Mechanical to find highly-trained, trustworthy technicians to handle all your HVAC needs. We've been in business for over 30 years, and you can count on our fair and honest prices to ensure the work you need is budget-friendly. Contact us today at (520) 792-9400, or use our convenient scheduling tool below to set up a service call and keep your AC blowing as it should.