If you haven't heard, refrigerant standards have changed, requiring homeowners to take a closer look at their air conditioning units. Although these new government policies force the HVAC industry to adapt, the policies still have a few years to go into full effect. Here's what homeowners need to know to prepare for the change.
Why is R-22 Being Phased Out?
R-22 refrigerant, otherwise known as AC Freon, is known to contain ozone-depleting properties. That is why the United States government has stepped in to require that all heat pumps and air conditioners no longer use this refrigerant. For a long time, it was the industry standard in central air conditioning systems. Now, R-22 is still being manufactured to maintain and repair existing equipment. After January 1, 2020, however, R-22 will no longer be able to be manufactured or imported in the U.S. Because of this, the rarity of R-22 refrigerant has caused a dramatic price increase.
Does Your Unit Use R-22?
Most air conditioning units manufactured before the 2010 cutoff will most likely still use the outdated refrigerant. For homeowners that installed a new system after the 2010 deadline, it is safe to say that they are not using R-22. To make sure, homeowners should read their unit's nameplate (found on the outdoor condenser) or check their system manual. If all else fails, call us to send a certified technician to check.
If your system still uses R-22, there are more environmentally-friendly refrigerant options. While this solution is not recommended, it can be a temporary fix. Instead of simply replacing the ozone-depleting refrigerant, contractors recommend upgrading to a newer, higher efficiency air conditioning unit. Every HVAC system purchased after the 2020 deadline, should use the environmentally-friendly R410A refrigerant. Some manufacturers, such as Lennox Industries, are currently using R410A with their systems and have already been doing so for many years.
In order to circumvent the R-22 restrictions, manufacturers have developed air conditioning units called "dry charge" systems. These systems are designed to be used with R-22 refrigerant. The difference is that instead of shipping with the refrigerant inside, it is added on-site during installation. Additionally, many homeowners have successfully retrofitted their systems to MO99 refrigerant. Alternative refrigerants are also known in the industry as "drop-ins."
However, the best option, especially for the environmentally conscious, is to upgrade to a system that uses the safer R410A refrigerant. For any additional concerns, don't hesitate to call us or schedule a service appointment online. Our NATE-certified technicians can inspect your air conditioning unit to determine your specific needs.