Depending on the age of your air conditioning system, your system may still be using a refrigerant called R-22, also referred to as Freon. Due to problems associated with the use of R-22 refrigerant, the chemical is now being phased out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and replaced with the more eco-friendly R-410A refrigerant. Find out what Savannah, Georgia, homeowners using R-22 need to do to get in compliance and update their HVAC system before the R-22 phase-out is complete.
What Is R-22 Refrigerant?
The first step in understanding why the phase-out is happening is understanding what R-22 is and why it has been deemed necessary for phase-out. Freon, or R-22, has been the primary refrigerant on the market due to its ability to quickly cool air in both residential and commercial air conditioning systems.
After recent studies on ozone depletion, the U.S. EPA has deemed the R-22 refrigerant a danger to the ozone layer and has ordered a nationwide phase-out to combat the problems that the refrigerant is causing to the environment. The refrigerant has been shown to possess ozone depletion components, and the phase-out order is expected to require a complete halt of production of the product by the end of the year 2020.
What Will be Used to Replace Freon?
Knowing that the phase-out is already in its early processes, you may be wondering what will be used as a replacement for R-22. U.S. HVAC units will now be required to use the coolant known as R-410A. This refrigerant is considered to be superior to R-22 in several ways. R-410A:
- Aids in the removal of humidity and moisture in the air.
- Has a lower critical temperature.
- Performs better in temperatures that exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Will create less damage to the environment through its use.
Everything You Need to Know About the R-22 Phase-Out
To understand the phase-out of R-22 as well as the steps that those who still use it in their home air conditioning units will need to take, you first need to understand how and why the phase-out is occurring.
How Does Phase-Out Classification Occur?
When performing research on environmentally damaging chemicals, the EPA will classify chemicals according to their danger. Chemicals that are deemed ozone-depleting substances will be listed as Class I or Class II depending on the risk and amount of damage that they can cause. Substances that are listed as Class I have almost exclusively been phased out for use in the United States with no one being able to import or produce Class I substances.
Substances categorized as Class II are termed hydrochlorofluorocarbons, or HCFCs. These substances were often created as substitutions for substances that were deemed Class I and subsequently phased out. Class II substances are currently in the process of being phased out with expected completion to be the end of the year in 2020.
With the year 2020 quickly approaching, the impact of the phase-out is already being seen with higher costs for refrigerants and the push for homeowners to cross over to systems that will no longer require the use of R-22 in their operation.
What to Do if Your Air Conditioning Unit Uses R-22 Refrigerant?
Now that you understand why the phase-out is occurring and the importance of transitioning to the more ozone-friendly R-410A, the next question is how do homeowners still using R-22 make the transition before the final days of the phase-out occurs?
Before doing anything, first verify that your HVAC system is still using the R-22 refrigerant. You can verify which type of refrigerant your unit uses by checking the nameplate located on the outdoor condenser unit. If you cannot find a nameplate, you will need to consult with your owner’s manual or contact the company that installed your unit. If none of these options are available, you can always contact the manufacturer with your model number and ask the manufacturer to provide you with the information.
Once you have determined that your air conditioning system is using R-22, you will need to consider what options you can pursue to be in compliance by the end of the phase-out. For now, you will be able to continue to get your unit serviced until production of the refrigerant has ceased, at which point you will no longer be able to purchase the supplies you need. Although it is important to begin deciding what you plan to do sooner rather than later since the price of R-22 will continue to rise as the supply becomes less and less, filling your unit may become more costly the longer you wait.
Can You Simply Change Your R-22 to R-410A?
Simply replacing the refrigerant in one system to a different refrigerant is not possible. Your unit and system were meant to work with the originally designed refrigerant, so making the change will require a few more steps than simply filling up with an ozone-friendly refrigerant such as R-410A. To make the switch, you will need to consult with a professional HVAC company, such as Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning, that has the knowledge and expertise to recommend an HVAC solution that can effectively run with a new refrigerant.
How Can You Update Your System to Run With the New Refrigerant?
Your HVAC system specialist can take multiple approaches to help you comply with the R-22 phase-out. Our team of professionals can determine how you can make an update to your HVAC system to accommodate the new refrigerant without affecting your home’s cooling comfort. You can choose to:
- Replace your air conditioning unit including the evaporator coil and furnace.
- Replace all of the copper lines that connect your components. This replacement may be necessary if your current line will not be able to accommodate the higher pressure that occurs with R-410A.
- Remove all possible moisture from the air conditioning system and make sure it is free of any leaks. This removal will often require the use of a special vacuum that has the power to remove every trace of water vapor that may have found a way into your system. The process can take several hours to be fully effective.
It is vital that you consult with a professional to perform the necessary transition. If not done properly, you could damage your system and face major safety concerns.
Is it Best to Purchase a New Air Conditioning System?
When all is said and done, your best option, in the long run, will be to install a new air conditioning system designed to run with the new refrigerant R-410A. This installation will not only ensure that you are compliant with the new EPA regulations once the phase-out is complete, but will also provide you with a new efficient system that may not cost much more than the cost to convert your older system over to the new refrigerant.
While installing a new unit can seem like a rather large investment, it will come with many more benefits over transitioning your older system. A new system will:
- Provide you with a new unit that will last considerably longer than your older one.
- Provide better energy efficiency, allowing you to use less power and, in turn, save more money on your energy bills.
- Provide you with an easier-to-maintain system.
- Give you the benefits of better cooling.
- Allow you to get in compliance with the R-22 refrigerant phase-out sooner.
- Help you avoid the inflated costs of R-22 refrigerant when prices begin to rise.
- Provide you with an environmentally friendly system.
While changing to a new HVAC system can be a stressful decision, the switch will save you much time and money in the long run as the R-22 phase-out goes into the final stages and servicing of your older system becomes cost prohibitive.
Start the decision process now so that you can do your research and find out which type and model of air conditioner will best meet your needs both now and in the future. Don’t wait until you have to make a hurried decision. Contact the HVAC installation specialists at Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning at 912-373-8447 today to schedule your free consultation and get ahead of the R-22 phase-out.
Image provided by Bigstock