Air conditioners are making a shift.
Many air conditioners use a refrigerant called chlorodifluoromethane, though it is often known better by the generic term R-22 or the brand name Freon. Unfortunately for many homeowners, this chemical is being phased out of use under something called the Montreal Protocol. By the year 2020, production of R-22 in the United States is slated to stop for good and my people will need to find New AC Systems.
As many industry professionals have already seen, the current and increasing scarcity of R-22 refrigerants in the US has already driven up the prices of replacements and repairs for air conditioning systems that use this refrigerant. The EPA has provided thorough and adequate warning from the start of the “phase-out,” but many homeowners have remained in the dark; whether intentionally or not, we’re getting down to crunch-time.
It’s time to do your research, and get a game-plan.
The Environmental Protection Agency began the serious “phase-out” stage of reducing so-called “ozone-depleting chemicals” in 2010. They have since made a sincere and thorough effort to ensure homeowners have the knowledge and tools they need to remain calm, cool, and collected during this transition. There are solutions and alternatives, and the EPA’s phase-out FAQ page covers some key points.
One of the most common concerns is whether homeowners will be required to replace their existing home air conditioning units if they use R-22 refrigerant, by the beginning of 2020. The simple answer is no; as long as your system is well-maintained and functioning appropriately, you can continue to use your system for the life of the machine and avoid having to purchase New AC Systems. However, if your system develops a leak, or otherwise needs repair, your problems will quickly skyrocket, especially after 2020. You will have to “rely on reclaimed and previously-produced quantities” to repair your system. This will increase your costs for the repair and recharge dramatically.
This is why it may be cheaper, and easier, in the grand scheme of things to go ahead and replace your troubled AC system with a new, modern system that does not use R-22 refrigerant.
You’ll only know if you check all your options.
Another recommendation from the EPA is to ensure you are using a service technician who is EPA-certified to handle whatever refrigerant your system uses. The appropriate certification is referred to as “Section 608,” and the EPA provides further information here. So, for your own peace of mind, make sure to ask your air conditioning service professional is Section 608 certified.
Retrofitting your existing air conditioning unit.
Retrofitting an existing air conditioning unit consists of adding new pieces of equipment, or modifying equipment in another way, to make your unit able to accept a substitute refrigerant, like R-410A. For most existing units, a homeowner cannot simply charge their unit with a substitute refrigerant without adding in new components or otherwise adapting their system. For example, R-410A runs at a higher operating pressure than R-22. For many air conditioning models, a modernized condenser and coils is a great, affordable fix, to convert an older system to run on a new refrigerant type. This retrofitting process can be completed by a certified technician, and will allow your home to remain safe and cool for years to come.
Now, the EPA does warn that there can be potential safety hazards related to use of unapproved refrigerants in home air conditioning systems. Many older systems are not designed to handle flammable refrigerants, so always consult your certified technicians.
You’re in luck, though. Metro Express Services takes pride in our work, and we have the tools to get you ready for a number of great New AC Systems! If you want to get ahead of the curve with this R-22 phase-out, give us a call today!