What Will Happen to R22 and How Does it Affect You Published on May 17, 2016 You may not know what R22 is, but if your air conditioning system was installed before 2010, you probably should. Refrigerant is what keeps the air coming from your air conditioning system cool, so it’s obviously incredibly important. Most AC systems older than 10 years use an air conditioning refrigerant called R22. This refrigerant was introduced in the 1950s and became the predominant AC refrigerant in the residential heating and cooling industry. Fast-forward a few decades and the world discovered that R22 refrigerants were contributing to the depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer. Not cool. So the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with the help of other agencies and institutions, began a phase-out of many ozone-depleting agents, including R22 refrigerant. By the start of 2010 the production and import of R22 would be outlawed. The loophole was current equipment would have an exception. So the production and import ended, but R22 was still available for sell and use until the start of 2015. Then, by 2020, R22 would practically no longer be utilized, at least in the U.S. So here’s a brief rundown before we get into why this is important to you: R22 is no longer manufactured in North America You can get recycled R22 now to service existing heating and air conditioning equipment that uses this particular AC refrigerant The price of R22 is getting more expensive because of the restricted supply, and by 2020 will no longer be available So what do you do? If your HVAC unit was produced after January 2010, you are most likely not affected by the EPA refrigerant rules and regulations. If your heating and cooling unit was produced prior to January 2010, particularly if it’s older than a decade, you have multiple options: 1) Upgrade with today’s more environmental systems, which use the approved AC refrigerant. 2) Call an expert to replace the parts in your current AC system to help make it compatible with approved air conditioner refrigerant. This is not recommended because it could void your warranty(ies). 3) Stick with using recycled R22 until 2020. The most straightforward option is to upgrade your home with a new air conditioning system, particularly if your current air conditioner is already over 10 years old. Even though we know making an unexpected purchase may not be the easiest option, Hammond Plumbing & Heating has a variety of financing options that help make the purchase truly affordable. A new piece of AC equipment will also be more efficient and give you superior comfort, helping to decrease your energy costs. The next option would not be a definite price and isn’t a permanent option. You could have your equipment retrofitted by a heating and air conditioning expert and switch over to an approved AC refrigerant. This involves far more than just flushing out the air conditioner and adding new A/C refrigerant; it also means you have to install new parts in the equipment. Your manufacturer will probably not cover the parts to make this switch because retrofitting your air conditioner will likely void the warranty. It’s also not a permanent answer and will probably only give you a couple more years of use. It’s a brief fix, and might be less expensive than a new air conditioner today, but purchasing a new upgraded air conditioner will probably benefit most homeowners in maintainability, fulfillment, and long-term comfort. The last option is to stay the status quo. You can continue using recycled R22 air conditioner refrigerant for the foreseeable future. While this sounds like a great alternative, you encounter a few issues. The cost of servicing old R22 A/C systems is starting to exceed several hundred dollars (practically a down payment on a new system). You will also most likely see the prices increase as demand continues to rise on a product that is no longer produced or widely available. If you aren’t positive what type of AC refrigerant your AC system uses, we are available to help. Call Hammond Plumbing & Heating today and we can perform an inspection to confirm if you are currently using R22 and, if so, which plan of action works best for you. Does Your HVAC Unit Use R-22? If you have an air conditioner that was built before 2010, your air conditioner will most likely have R-22. Although, if you purchased your air conditioner after January 1, 2010, then your unit probably doesn't have any R22. You can lookup the type of refrigerant your system runs on by checking the appliance’s nameplate. This nameplate is often located on the outdoor condenser of your central air conditioning system. If you can't find it, you can read your user’s manual or contact your local Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) service company. We know that the process of switching over to an approved AC refrigerant can be frustrating, but it’s saving the environment and saving our air.