At the very core of the air conditioning process is a gas. Actually, a gas and a liquid. Air conditioning refrigerant ingeniously absorbs heat from inside your home and transfers that heat to the great outdoors. As a result, you and your family stay comfortably cool. The key element in this heat transference is a compound that easily and endlessly transforms from a gas to a liquid and back again. Developed almost 100 years ago (in 1928) Thomas Midgley, Albert Henne and Robert McNary invented chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants. The compounds produced were “the world’s first non-flammable refrigerating fluids, greatly improving the safety of air conditioners.” R22 freon was developed in the 1930s and has been used throughout the air conditioning industry for decades.
The True Cost of Freon
It turns out, there is an environmental cost to using chlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs), such as R22. In the 1980s, it was discovered that chlorine, a key component of refrigerants (CFCs and HCFCs) was depleting earth’s ozone. According to the U.S. Department of State, “The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion.” The first treaty ever to achieve universal ratification by all the countries in the world, The Montreal Protocol phases out production and use of refrigerants and compounds that damage the ozone layer.
Not Just a Good Idea – It’s the Law
In approximately 60 days, a new law will go into effect establishing a complete ban on the production and importation of R22 refrigerant. As of January 1, 2020, servicing air conditioners and replacing R22 refrigerant will be limited to recycled or existing quantities of R22. Because most air conditioners built in the U.S. for the past decade have not utilized R22, the ban will mainly affect older air conditioners. It is entirely possible that this new law will not pertain to your system at all. However, if you have an older air conditioner, you might want to schedule service before the end of the year to determine the refrigerant in your system.
AC Options Regarding the Ban on R22
Here are the available options for complying with the R22 ban which goes into effect soon:
Retrofit Your AC Unit
The most common, legal alternative to R22 is the more environmentally friendly R410A, which is also known as Puron. Retrofitting your current air conditioner might be an option if your system is otherwise in top performing condition. Unfortunately, like automobiles, sometimes replacing one part or component can lead to revealing other issues, as well. The best way to know if your system is a candidate for retrofitting is to schedule a system inspection. One of our service technicians will assess the condition your older AC unit and let you know your options for compliance with the new law.
Replace Your System with A New Air Conditioner
At first, this might sound like an expensive option. However, replacing an older air conditioner using R22 with a brand new, energy saving, R410A-based air conditioner might be a good idea. In Arizona, air conditioning systems generally require replacement every eight to 10 years. If your air conditioner is using R22, then it stands to reason, it is at least ten years old. It might be time to replace your system.
Stay with the Status Quo
If your AC has been operating with R22 and not giving you any trouble (no refrigerant leaks or issues), you may be able to continue using your current air conditioner. It’s important to note, the ban is on the production and importation of R22. However, as supplies of R22 decline, the price will undoubtedly go up. As long as you are aware of the situation, you can plan accordingly.
Is Better for Our Environment
With the Montreal Protocol, all the countries in the world agreed on banning HCFCs. The switch to non-ozone-depleting refrigerants is needed to protect the earth’s ozone. We support this move and want to help you in any way we can to comply with this new law. Please give us a call if you have any questions.