If your HVAC system is more than a few years old, it most likely uses R-22 refrigerant. For many years, R-22 was the standard refrigerant in air conditioners. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will no longer allow it to be manufactured in the United States or imported from other countries beginning January 1, 2020. What is the issue, and what are your options for your air conditioner?
Phaseout of R-22
R-22 refrigerant is used in your HVAC system to cool the air before it is circulated throughout your home. The substance was eventually discovered to be extremely harmful to the environment. It can harm the ozone layer if it escapes from your system. Furthermore, the manufacture of R-22 emits extremely harmful byproducts into the atmosphere.
As a result, the EPA has been working since 2004 to phase out the use of R-22. Beginning in 2010, they prohibited its use in new HVAC systems, only allowing it for the repair of existing units. Beginning in 2020, even that option will be eliminated, and R-22 will be completely prohibited.
If your air conditioner still uses R-22 refrigerant, you have a few options for getting it recharged. You can still obtain R-22 that has been reclaimed from old systems, but due to scarcity, the price will skyrocket. R-410A, a more environmentally friendly replacement, is also available. But beware: it’s not always as simple as swapping out one refrigerant for another, and in many cases, a completely new system is required.
Also, because R-22 hasn’t been used in new units since 2010, your system will be at least 10 years old by 2020, which is close to the age when you should replace your A/C anyway. Rather than paying exorbitant prices to replace a harmful refrigerant, why not invest in a new system that is more efficient and better for the environment?