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, 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 ACE-certified technicians who are skilled and EPA certified in air conditioning repair. ACE-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 R22. 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 R22, 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!