What Will Happen to R22 and How Does it Affect You Published on May 17, 2016 If your air conditioner was installed before 2010 and you don’t know what R22 is then you should probably learn. Refrigerant is what makes the air coming from your air conditioner cool, so it’s clearly very important. Most AC systems 10 years or older use an air conditioning refrigerant called R22. This refrigerant was instituted in the 1950s and became the primary AC refrigerant in the residential heating and cooling industry. Fast-forward a few decades and the world began to see that R22 refrigerants were promoting the depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer. Not cool. So the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with other agencies and institutions, began a phase-out of many ozone-depleting agents, including R22 refrigerant. By the start of 2010 the creation and import of R22 would be prohibited. The loophole was current equipment would have an exception. So the manufacturing and import ended, but R22 was still sold and used until the start of 2015. Then, by 2020, R22 would practically no longer be in operation, at least in the U.S. So here’s a brief recap before we get into how this will affect you: R22 is not manufactured anymore in North America You can access recycled R22 now to service existing heating and cooling systems that uses this particular air conditioner refrigerant The cost of R22 is increasing because of the short supply, and will not be available by 2020 So what does that mean for you? If your heating and cooling equipment was manufactured after January 2010, you are most likely not affected by the EPA refrigerant rules and regulations. If your HVAC unit was manufactured before January 2010, particularly if it’s older than a decade, you have a couple options: 1) Upgrade with today’s more environmental systems, which use the approved AC refrigerant. 2) Update parts in your current air conditioning system to make it compatible with approved air conditioning refrigerant. We do not recommend this option as it could void your warranty(ies). 3) Proceed with using recycled R22 until 2020. The simplest option is to purchase a new, upgraded air conditioner, particularly if your current air conditioner is already over 10 years old. Even though we know making an unforeseen purchase may not be the easiest decision, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning has many financing options that help make the investment very affordable. A new HVAC unit will also be more efficient and deliver improved comfort, helping to lower your utility bills. The next alternative would not be a definite price and isn’t a long-term option. You could have your AC modified by an HVAC expert and switch over to an approved air conditioning refrigerant. This requires a lot more than just flushing out the equipment and adding new air conditioning refrigerant; it also means you have to install new parts in the equipment. Your manufacturer may not pay for the parts to make this change because retrofitting your air conditioner will likely void the warranty. It’s also not a long-term solution and will probably only give you a few more years of use. It’s a brief fix, and may be less expensive than a new system today, but the investment in a new upgraded AC system will probably benefit most homeowners in dependability, satisfaction, and long-term comfort. The third choice is to keep doing what you’re doing. You can continue using recycled R22 AC refrigerant for the foreseeable future. While this may seem like a great option, you encounter a few issues. The cost of servicing old R22 AC equipment is starting to surpass several hundred dollars (basically a down payment on a new AC system). You may also see the prices climb as demand continues to rise on a chemical that is no longer produced or widely available. If you aren’t certain what type of AC refrigerant your AC system uses, we are happy to help. Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today and we can perform an inspection to determine if you are currently using R22 and, if so, which alternative works best for you. Does Your HVAC Equipment Use R-22? If you have an air conditioner that was built before 2010, your AC unit 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 AC uses by checking the appliance’s nameplate. This nameplate is usually found on the outdoor condenser of your central air conditioning system. If you can't find it, you can check your user’s manual or get in touch with 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.