We all know that HVAC condensing units need refrigerant (or freon) to cool our homes, but did you know that there are many types of freon? You may have heard your HVAC technician refer to 410A or R22 when charging your system. These are just two blends commonly used in residential refrigeration. Their use is strictly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA and only a licensed HVAC technician can purchase and charge your air conditioner.
Several years ago the EPA issued regulations under the Clean Air Act of 1963 to phase out R22 freon. R22 contains hydrochlorofluorocarbons, a chemical known to deplete the ozone layer. As one of a group of Class II HFCS chemicals, the decision was made to take a phased approach gradually limiting the production and import of the chemicals. In January of 2020, R22 will no longer be imported or produced in the United States. This means that while HVAC technicians can continue to service units using R22, they will have limited access to the freon necessary to charge it. Since stores are not being replenished in this country, we are dependent on existing supplies, reclaimed, or recycled freon.
What does this mean for you, the consumer? There have been confusing reports about this issue but please be assured that you are not required to replace your equipment if you use R22 freon. You can continue to use your air conditioner and we can continue to service it. With that being said, you have probably noticed that repair prices have risen steadily over the past several years. With the limited availability of R22 freon, the price has increased dramatically in recent years and will continue to do so, especially since there will be no new imports after 2020.
What are your options?
1. DO NOTHING - Continue to use your equipment and wait for the inevitable breakdown as the unit ages. Prices for refrigerant will continue to rise and homeowners could face difficulties with the cost and availability of R22 in the future.
2. BE PROACTIVE - According to energy.gov, the average lifespan of HVAC equipment is 15-20 years. Most units using R22 freon are nearing the end of their life cycles. Consider replacing your system with a more energy efficient model using 410A freon.
3. RETROFIT YOUR CURRENT SYSTEM - Some systems can be retrofitted for newer types of freon. Contact your HVAC professional to see if your system is eligible. There are limitations to this option but it can buy more time until you need to completely replace your system.
If you want more information on your options, give us a call at 870-565-4579.