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  • Writer's pictureMichael Cox

Don't Panic, R-22 Can Still Be Used!!

As of Jan 1, 2020, EPA restrictions for the sale of new R-22 refrigerant take effect. This is not a death sentence for your older air conditioning system. Let me explain and put your mind at ease.

This article was originally posted 12/11/2019. I have updated it and the changes are noted with {xxx...}

First, let’s check to see what refrigerant your system contains.

.Alternatives to R-22 have been available since the mid-nineties so your system might not be affected. Here’s how to be sure. There is a data label on your condenser unit (the noisy square box with the big fan on top at the side of your house). The label shows the type of refrigerant you have. You’re looking for “R-22”, “HFCF 22”, “22” or a variation of these terms. If you see “R410a”, “410”, “HFC” or a variation of this go ahead and take a sigh of relief you don’t have an R-22 system. If you find R-22 DON’T PANIC there are plenty of options I’ll explain in a moment.

So why is the EPA stopping the sale of NEW R-22 refrigerant?

R-22 is part of the HCFC (hydrogen, chlorine, fluorine, carbon) refrigerant classification. The chlorine in this group of refrigerants is very damaging to the Ozone layer in the Stratosphere. In fact, science estimates a single chlorine atom can destroy 100,000 ozone molecules. This effect on Ozone {Ozone depletion} is a big problem. Ozone protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation and helps maintain stable Earth temperatures. Stratospheric Ozone depletion is a global problem. Depletion of Ozone in the Stratosphere causes:

  • Crop loss

  • Increases in eye disease such as cataracts

  • Skin cancer

  • Reductions in marine life (plankton the building block of all marine life)

  • Deforestation (trees are one of the main producers of the oxygen we breathe)

  • Increases in ground level Ozone

So, what are your options?

  1. Keep using your air conditioner. There are no restrictions to equipment that is currently in use. The January 1st, 2020 regulation change bans the production and importation of new R-22 refrigerant. The sale of R-22 that is currently in the country is fine while supplies last. Admittedly, this won’t be cheap and the price will continue to rise {the per-pound price of R-22 when this article was first published was roughly $65. As of 7/1/2022, the price is over $350 per pound.} until it is gone. But you still have options.

  2. If your system needs more refrigerant you have the option to use “Reclaimed” R-22. Reclaimed means used refrigerant that has been filtered and processed to like-new status. Chemical analysis that meets AHRI 700 standards attests to its purity. Again, the prices will rise until supplies are no longer available but this should be a few years from now. Once reclaimed R-22 is gone you still have an option.

  3. You can have your R-22 system retrofitted with an approved alternative refrigerant. This is a labor-intensive process that involves many steps. You'll need to have the remaining R-22 removed. Cleaning the refrigerant lines, condenser and evaporator coil is a must. You'll need a new filter / dryer too. This is an expensive process and you should weigh the cost versus the estimated remaining life of your current system. Generally speaking, I would not recommend this option but you should know it is available. {Please understand if you are having to add refrigerant you have a leak. leaks develop over time. If you have one or more leaks today are they repairable leaks and if so who's to say if you won't have another one in the near future.}

So now you know. You don't have to change your R-22 system until it’s to the point where it no longer makes sense to continue to repair. If someone tries to tell you otherwise, give All-Seasons Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning a call. We’ll be glad to give you a second opinion.

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