Many older air conditioning models use R-22 refrigerant to keep homes cool. However, this substance can deplete the ozone layer and harm the environment, so the government has been gradually phasing out R-22 usage. Starting on January 1, 2020, R-22 can no longer be imported or produced in the United States. This will cause some changes for homeowners and manufacturers who previously used R-22 in their homes and products.
How to Know If Your AC System Uses R-22
The first thing you should do after the phase-out is to simply check your HVAC system to see if R-22 refrigerant is in use. Any piece of equipment made before 2010 may be operating with R-22 refrigerant. To see which refrigerant your model uses, check the serial number. This can help you look up your HVAC unit and see if it is running on R-22.
Can You Keep Using R-22 Refrigerant?
If your system is running on R-22 refrigerant, there’s no need to panic. One of your options for what to do after the phase-out is to simply do nothing. R-22 refrigerant is not illegal to own or use. As long as it stays safely contained inside the closed coils of your air conditioner, there is no danger to using R-22 refrigerant. You can just operate your air conditioner normally without any concern. Unless it leaks, it will not damage the environment.
What To Know if Your AC Uses R-22
If your AC unit breaks down, you might need to actually address the R-22 issue. The main problem is simply that you cannot get more R-22. The refrigerant in your air conditioner runs in a closed loop that does not use up the refrigerant or require top-ups. However, if there is a leak, your refrigerant levels can become so low that your unit no longer cools air properly. The typical fix for this problem is addressing the leak and adding more refrigerant. However, since R-22 is not being made or imported into the U.S. anymore, getting this refrigerant can be tricky. As the R-22 phase-out progresses, it will become increasingly difficult to find this material.
Can You Switch to Another Refrigerant?
If you cannot find R-22 or do not want to pay inflated prices, what can you do? You could switch to another refrigerant. Keep in mind that you cannot just pour in R410A or another type of refrigerant into an air conditioner that uses R-22. Different types of refrigerants are meant to operate at different levels of pressure. Therefore, your cooling system will be designed to work with a specific refrigerant type.
It is possible to retrofit an air conditioner. This involves changing specific parts and adjusting the air conditioner so that it can work with a different type of refrigerant. Retrofitting can be somewhat costly and is not always effective. But if you have a newer model that does not need many changes, a retrofit can be a good idea in some cases.
Should You Get a New Air Conditioner That Doesn’t Use R22?
Whether your AC unit is broken or not, you also have the option of replacing it altogether. Since most models that use R-22 are on the older side by now anyway, a replacement might not be a bad idea. A new AC system that runs on a more environmentally friendly refrigerant ensures you will not have any problems in the event of a refrigerant leak. Going ahead and getting a new AC also means you don’t have to worry so much about the need to track down R-22 refrigerants. If you decide to replace your AC, an experienced contractor will be able to see that it is properly disposed of.
If you are running a air conditioner with R-22 refrigerant, Leith Heating & Cooling can help. Depending on the age and condition of your unit, you may want to leave it alone, retrofit it for another refrigerant, repair it, or replace it. Our team can assist you with exploring your options and help you make the right choice for your system. We provide a broad range of heating and cooling services in West Dundee, including repairs, maintenance, and installation. Give us a call today to find out more.