We use our air conditioner to cool our homes on a daily basis. It provides comfort and better quality of life. An air conditioner depends on refrigerant or Freon to be able to perform all these functions. R22 (also known as HCFC-22) is a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) once widely used as a refrigerant. If your home or office AC is over 10 years, then it’s probably using R22 as its freon. However, R22 Freon is banned in the U.S. today. If your AC system uses R22 refrigerant, you might be worried about how that would affects you, read on.
If you need professional consultation to replace your R-22 air conditioner, SuperTech is here to help.
What Is R22 Freon?
R22, a common form of the HCFC-22 chemical, is a refrigerant used for cooling air in air conditioning system. A refrigerant is a substance used in a heat cycle that undergoes a phase change between gas and liquid to allow the cooling in an AC. R22 is just one of the many refrigerant choices available out there. Without a refrigerant, an AC won’t be able to cool your home. A refrigerant may also be responsible for heating the air where there’s a heat pump system. R 22 refrigerant has been an important component of air conditioners in homes and offices for years. Now, it’s prohibited in the U.S.
Why The U.S Banned R22 Refrigerant?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has banned R 22 freon in the country. Why? R22 contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer – which absorbs the ultraviolet radiation from the sun and protects us from its harmful effects – and the ecosystem in general. R22 leaks are highly toxic and can damage the environment, specifically, through causing ozone depletion.
In 2010, the U.S. stopped the sale of new air conditioning units that use R22. That means, new air conditioner in US manufactured after 2010 does not use R22 coolant.
R22 phaseout in 2020 means that it became completely illegal to manufacture or import R22 itself into the country. However, recovered, recycled or reclaimed refrigerant is still allowed to service existing HVAC systems but chemical manufacturers can’t produce new R22 refrigerants to service existing air conditioners and heat pumps.
What Does That Mean If Your AC Unit Is Using R22 Freon
You, as the system owners, are not forced to replace your R22 AC unit now. But you may need the R22 refrigerant for your air conditioning system one day. And the fact remains that old R22 stocks will be sold out and won’t be replenished. This will force prices up and make it difficult for your HVAC technician to find any.
How Do I Know Whether My AC Uses R22 Freon?
Is your Air Conditioning unit more than 10 years old? If yes, then it may be using R22. Even if it’s newer, there’s no need to make an assumption. Here are three simple things you can do to check the type of refrigerant your existing equipment is running on:
Check the owner’s manual: Find the operation manual of your older system and check it. If you see HCFC-22 written on it, then your older air conditioner uses R22.
Look for the equipment nameplate: Check the indoor coil or outdoor condenser of your HVAC system to know if you can see a nameplate on the case that shows all the specs of your system as well as the installed refrigerant.
Call a professional: When in doubt about the type of refrigerant run by your AC and how the R22 ban affects you, call SuperTech for help. We have experienced EPA-certified technicians to give you the needed help and support.
Is R22 Freon Still Available?
Yes, recovered or recycled R22 is still available to purchase. However, the cost is getting higher and higher as the supply is diminishing.
Again, if the tank or tubing for the condensate pump cracks because of long term usage, the water will escape and drip or pool around your AC unit.
How Often Does My R22 Air Conditioner Need Freon Refill
An air conditioner is a closed loop. Refrigerant cycles through this closed loop system. So, no new refrigerant is needed unless there’s a refrigerant leak. This is because it isn’t gas that can be used up in a car. However, possible signs that your HVAC system could be low on refrigerant include the following:
- Your AC is on but doesn’t cool your home or office.
- You’re incurring high energy bills.
- The air from the vents isn’t cold.
- There’s ice on the refrigerant lines.
- Your hvac unit is making a hissing or bubbling noise when it’s on.
To diagnose that it’s indeed low on refrigerant, you need a HVAC technician to measure superheat and subcool with gauges. That requires special equipment and technical knowledge. During a professional AC tune-up, HVAC technicians test your system's refrigerant levels and determine if more refrigerant is required. This is why it is vital to get a AC tune up before summer so that you have cool air all season.
What Can You Replace R22 With?
For residential HVAC system, R410A is the R22 replacement.
What's The Difference In R22 And R-410A?
R22 is a greenhouse gas. It affects the ozone layer when it goes into the atmosphere, probably due to leakages. R-410A has been selected as the replacement refrigerant of R22 in residential cooling system. It has the following benefits over the older R22:
- R-410A is more competent because it can absorb and release heat efficiently.
- It doesn’t damage the environment.
- It’s good for all new air conditioners.
- It doesn’t destroy the ozone layer.
- It’s cheaper.
Now, What Are My Options If I Have R22 Freon In My Old AC?
If you have a R22 air conditioner and leaking Freon, there are two choices to make:
Depending on where the leak is, fixing your older unit could be very costly. Again, R22 becomes very expensive due to the freon ban. There could also be multiple leaks in your R 22 system. New unit could achieve higher energy efficiency and be eligible for federal tax credit. But then, you’re free to choose from any of these two alternatives. So, it makes sense to get professional help in a situation like this. Contact SuperTech, your trusted HVAC company, or schedule online today for a solution.