For decades, the HVAC industry depended on hydrochlorofluorocarbons, or HCFCs, to run air conditioners. Also known as freon and R-22, the blend of chemicals is an essential component of a traditional HVAC system. But HCFCs are ruining the environment, and measures are being taken against the use of such chemicals. Find out more about the R-22 phase-out and how it could affect you. For more information, you can always call your HVAC service in Port Richey.
What is R-22?
R-22 is a refrigerant used in older air conditioners. At times, people refer to R-22 as freon. It has a negative association, which is why most ACs over ten years old don’t have R-22 as a refrigerant.
As a refrigerant, R-22 is an essential component of an HVAC system. However, it’s not the only chemical that’s effective at heating or cooling your home. Other chemicals aren’t considered dangerous to the environment. Because R-22 is harmful to the ozone layer, it is slowly destroying the planet.
The Dangers of R-22
In the 1980s, researchers discovered that R-22 was depleting the ozone layer. It all starts with a chlorine atom that the compound releases into the environment. When chlorine interacts with the layer of oxygen above the surface of the earth, it causes devastation.
The ozone layer is the only thing protecting you from the sun’s rays. As the ozone layer gets weaker and weaker, the UV radiation from the sun becomes more hazardous to humans. Issues like skin cancer and cataracts are more prevalent as the ozone layer disappears.
Since scientists discovered the problems caused by R-22, they pushed to stop the use of the chemical. By 1987, several countries banned the use of HCFCs. The US was one of those countries. In addition to banning R-22, the countries also banned other ozone-destroying substances.
Over the past two decades, about 98% of all ozone-depleting chemicals have been phased out of production. However, this doesn’t mean no one uses HCFCs. People still use products made of chemicals because there are many still in circulation. For instance, your older air conditioner could use freon as a refrigerant.
Why is R-22 Still Around?
Despite the regulations against HCFCs, people still depend on R-22. You can still buy equipment that uses R-22. For whatever reason, people have been reluctant to make the switch.
If you have an older system, you don’t need to replace it with one that uses something other than R-22. However, you do need to be aware that you won’t always be able to stick with the R-22. If your system completely breaks down, you need to replace it with one that uses another chemical.
Because HVAC systems can last well over ten years, there are still many systems that rely on R-22. But it’s only a matter of time before those air conditioners stop working and need a full replacement. When that happens to you, there won’t be an option to use R-22.
Phasing Out R-22
According to legislation, R-22 was no longer available as of 2020. Any home or business owner that relies on R-22 could end up in trouble. If your air conditioner needs more refrigerant, you won’t be able to find it.
The phase-out also means repairing systems that use R-22 will be a costly endeavor. What should be a simple and affordable repair could result in an expensive fix. Now that R-22 is no longer available, older systems are becoming relics.
Still, understanding how the phase-out can affect you may not be clear. Most people don’t even know what type of refrigerant their system uses. Furthermore, they don’t understand how they can adapt to the rules and regulations regarding R-22.
Does Your System Use R-22?
You probably would like to know whether or not your system uses freon. Typically, you can get this information in one of three ways. First, you can check the owner’s manual for more information. The manual might mention HCFC-22, which is the same as R-22. Look for a mention to find out what your system uses as a refrigerant.
Secondly, you can look at the nameplate on the appliance. On the condenser unit of your air conditioner, you can find a nameplate. The plate has details on the specs of your unit, and those details should include the type of refrigerant. If that doesn’t work, you can call your favorite HVAC repair service for help.
In addition to telling, you which refrigerant your unit uses, an expert can explain how the R-22 ban will affect you. This may put your mind at ease and help you prepare for the future.
What Should You Do to Comply?
If your current system uses R-22, there are a few ways you can handle things. The first and most common method is to wait for your system to need a full replacement. While this saves you money upfront, it means you could be living with a faulty AC.
Another option is to replace your existing air conditioner equipment. In some cases, a technician can retrofit the system to use a new refrigerant. This isn’t always possible, but it could happen. Before you decide to do anything, ask your HVAC technician what they suggest. They can tell you whether or not your system can convert and how much the switch would cost.
Does your system break down frequently? If so, you may want to go ahead and replace your HVAC with one that uses an acceptable refrigerant. Making monthly calls to your HVAC repair service won’t be good for your wallet. By replacing the system early on, you can save money on repairs. You also eliminate any worries you have about relying on R-22.
Call Us for HVAC Service
The R-22 ban might seem confusing and overwhelming. To put your mind at ease, call us at Comfort All-Stars. Let our HVAC service technicians in Port Richey look at your system and give you the information you need. Whether you need a new system or just want advice, call us now to find out more.