The R-22 Phase Out
By now you have heard that the “old” refrigerant used in air conditioners is being “phased-out”. This will only affect you if you have an R-22 system. You can tell if your system is an R-22 system by calling your local heating and air conditioning contractor to see if they have it recorded in their system, or you can look at the label on your outside unit. Systems that have been installed recently probably won’t be affected by the phase out.
R-22 and the ozone
R-22 is classified as a hydrochlorofluorocarbon, which contributes to climate change and ozone depletion. Due to its effect on the ozone, the EPA has decided to phase it out of production by January 1, 2020. There are other refrigerants that exist that have a less harmful impact on the ozone, and some have better energy ratings and savings when used properly.
Do I have to change my system?
Before you call your heating & air conditioning company to come change out your system, you need to know that NO IMMEDIATE change is necessary. Although R-22 will no longer be produced or imported to America, it does not mean that it is all gone. R-22 can continue to be used. Many companies will save R-22 from system replacements to ship off to a certified company, who will then “recycle” it or bring it up to a “like new” standard to be used again. This is called reclaimed R-22 and will be available for a long time after the ban is in place.
Be aware though that due to the ban of production, R-22 prices could rise significantly. That means repairs could cost a homeowner a lot more. There are some alternative refrigerants which could cost less, but it means that your system might need some adaptations to properly use those refrigerants. Eventually a system replacement will be needed.
A quick word of caution, there are certain standards set forth by the EPA that a technician has to follow when working with the refrigerants. Our technicians have their EPA certification so that they can work with the refrigerants properly. Winkelman Heating & Air Conditioning can answer any other questions you may have. Call us at 806-935-6327.