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Understanding Air Conditioning R22 Refrigerant (Freon) Changes

In case you haven't heard, the U.S. government has enacted a policy requiring all air conditioners and heat pumps no longer use the ozone-depleting R22 refrigerant (AC Freon), which has been the HVAC industry standard in the manufacture of central air conditioning systems. Contact Service Experts today to find out more about government changes and your air conditioner.

This is good news for the environment, but what does it mean for the average homeowner? Here's everything you need to know:

  1. While recharging an AC or Heat Pump is not typical, if your system develops a leak or requires service, replacement refrigerant may be necessary.  If your existing A/C system has R22 refrigerant it can be serviced and if necessary recharged up to 1/1/2020. However, after 1/1/2020 refrigerant manufacturers must cease all production of R22 refrigerant completely.
  2. There is currently no EPA requirement on the servicing or usage of existing R22 A/C units. R22 A/C equipment may continue to be used indefinitely.
  3. Substitutes for R22 refrigerant may be available to service and recharge R22 air conditioners. Any substitution should only be applied by NATE-certified technicians who are skilled and EPA certified in air conditioning repair. NATE-certification includes the recommended EPA refrigerant handling certification (Section 608 certification).
  4. If you purchase a new air conditioning or heat pump system after 1/1/2010, it may or may not utilize Freon. It will most likely use the more environmentally friendly R410A. Most manufacturers are already manufacturing Air Conditioning and Heat Pump units with the environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant.  These units are widely available today and should be strongly considered if you are looking to replace your home comfort system.
  5. Prices of R22 refrigerant are very likely to increase as the 2010 deadline approaches, as R22 manufacturing slows and supplies dwindle from now through 2020.

What To Do?

Basically, if you need to replace your air conditioner, just consult with a licensed air conditioning contractor about the refrigerant it uses. Also understand that most air conditioners have a life span of 10-20 years, so even if you purchase a new A/C system today that uses AC freon, you may be buying it at just the right time to replace it again around 2020. A/C energy efficiency will only increase over the years, so you'll save on home energy bills all during that time.

But if you just request R410A refrigerant in your new A/C now, you'll be helping the environment... and won't have to worry about any of these policy changes anyway!

Phyllis Carswell
I would like to know how many pounds of R 22 would my four ton unit require and how much does it cost per pound
12/22/2012 10:01:04 AM

I had to replace the coil in my system 2 months ago. Now, the compressor has failed and I am told I have to replace my outside unit. I would like to switch to the new refrigerant. But is it a problem that the R22 refrigerant has been used in my coil? Does switching refrigerant require a new coil? Thanks!
11/7/2012 3:19:12 PM

My AC stopped working yesterday. The AC guy that came to look at it said that the compressor was bad and after he replaces it (unit is under warranty) that it would cost $500 for 10 lbs of R22. Is that to high?
THank you
9/4/2012 1:42:50 PM

They can still charge until 2020, they also have the option of using R-438A which is a drop in refrigerant and works very well in most systems. I say most systems the commercial end in most likely to show problems, not residential.
5/9/2012 3:02:26 PM

Do you know anyone in Bham AL that will install R22 replacement system. Trying to save money and will not be in house 10 more years.
3/28/2012 6:42:00 PM

Service Experts
@RJ It's a tough call that many homeowners are facing, and there are several variables to consider. First, know that you are not required by law to upgrade to R410A. However, 410A refrigerant is not harmful to the environment and will likely be less expensive in the long run. Another variable is that R22 refrigerant is no longer being manufactured and will be phased out completely by 2020, therefore it's cost will continue to rise.

Depending on the heating equipment you have (you have to be sure the cooling unit matches the furnace properly), it comes down to a budget issue. So I would recommend if you can replace your cooling system with a 410A unit, in most cases that is the better long term option. An R22 unit is perfectly ok though if you have budget constraints or can't finance the purchase. I'd recommend though you call us for a free expert second opinion to evaluate your options. We can provide financing that other company's can't and that might make the decision much easier for you.
2/13/2012 9:07:28 AM

A technician told me I needed to replace my "A Coil" because it isnt the new standard 410.... i seen some r22 units for sale, what would you recommend? going with a new unit and a new a coil or keeping what i have? I need a new unit regardless.
2/13/2012 8:36:22 AM

sanjeev jha
Hi Sam,
Really nice article.I created a website ( inspired from this article.All your posts are really informative and inspiring.Please cover environment issues also.Thanks.
2/16/2011 6:58:35 AM

They may be just trying to get you to purchase a new system but you may not need one. R22 refrigerant CAN be refilled (though it is now becoming more costly to do so). The new laws stipulate you cannot purchase a new air conditioner with R22 refrigerant included because A/C manufactures can no longer produce them. Do not trust a contractor that says they cannot recharge R22 refrigerant unless they cite another valid reason. Call us for a free second opinion, just tell them Sam sent you.
2/7/2011 1:17:29 PM

Have had 2 contractors tell us that they can legally no longer replace R22, but this article says can until 2020. Which is it?
2/7/2011 12:50:02 PM