Most homeowners know that their AC system requires refrigerant—and that the refrigerant can run out over time. But not a lot of homeowners can name the exact kind of refrigerant their system uses. In most cases that’s information you’ll never need to know. Unfortunately, that may change as one of the most common residential AC refrigerants, R-22, gets phased out.
What is R-22 and why is it being phased out?
R-22 is also known by the names HCFC-22 Freon and FreonTM 22. It’s a type of refrigerant that belongs to the HCFC family of compounds. And, like most HCFCs, it’s being regulated because it can cause damage to the earth’s ozone layer.
This is a good thing, and there are other refrigerants being used in air conditioners today which can take over for R-22. But it also creates a problem. R-22 was one of the most common refrigerants used in residential and commercial air conditioning systems—as well as heat pumps. And it’s been getting phased out since 2010:
- New air conditioners have not been allowed to use R-22 in the U.S. since 2010
- R-22 was still available for existing air conditioners
- Starting in 2020, new charges of R-22 will no longer be available only reclaimed or recycled refrigerant will be available.
In other words:
If your air conditioning system was purchased before 2010, it likely still runs on R-22—which won’t be widely available much longer.
That doesn’t mean you need to replace your AC system. But it does mean you may want to take some steps to prevent high costs in the future.
What You Need to Know to Avoid High Prices
When 2020 hits, you won’t have to stop using your air conditioner.
In fact, under current EPA rules, you can keep running it on R-22 if you want. But if it leaks and you need a new charge, you’ll have a harder time getting it.
That’s because new batches of R-22 won’t be available. The only R-22 you’ll be able to buy will be salvaged or recycled from old units.
And that means that R-22 prices will get much higher over the next two years as the supply diminishes.
However, you have options:
- You could stock up on a couple extra charges of R-22 now, while it’s less expensive
- Or, you could switch your AC unit to one of the substitutes that’s available
- If your AC system is already aging out, you may want to consider replacing it before it needs more coolant at all, and get a compliant new system
This isn’t a crisis by any means. But, considering that homeowners want to keep AC costs as low as possible, it’s good information to have—before you find yourself paying sky-high prices for an outdated refrigerant.
Want help? Ambient Edge can provide you with an estimate on a new system and go over your options, so your AC system is no longer affected. We also offer AC tune-ups that boost efficiency and help prevent problems like leaks. Call us at 888-628-5890 or fill out the form to your right and let us help you.