If you rely on a cooling system that uses R22 refrigerant you may be in for a surprise during your next service visit. As of January 1, 2020, production and import of R22 refrigerant will be illegal in the United States. Of course, continued use of your air conditioner (AC) using R22 refrigerant is allowed. However, it does mean that if your AC system needs a repair that involves refrigerant, you may have to decide between a hefty refrigerant bill and a system replacement.
What Refrigerant Is In My Cooling System?
On January 1, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented a ban on the production and import of R22, except for continuing servicing needs of existing equipment. The EPA also banned the manufacture and installation of new R22 AC systems. As a result, manufacturers of AC equipment redesigned their systems to accommodate R410A, a chlorine-free refrigerant.
If your AC was built and installed before January 1, 2010, there’s a good chance that it uses R22 refrigerant. Your equipment may have a label that identifies the type of refrigerant type used, but it’s a good idea to ask your licensed professional AC dealer for confirmation.
What If My AC Uses R22?
The ban doesn’t require you to replace a functioning, R22 refrigerant AC system. However, as the January 1, 2020 ban date approaches, you may need to evaluate your options if your air conditioning system fails or requires emergency repairs. So… what are your options?
OPTION 1: REPAIR
Even though OPTION 1 may sound like an easy fix, the price of R22 refrigerant is subject to shrinking supply. This may make R22 very expensive. “While R-22 remains available for servicing equipment made before 2010, it is important to know that supplies of R-22 will become more limited and the price of this refrigerant may increase,” says the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute.
As the supply becomes limited, you may end up paying more for a repair that requires R22 refrigerant than a down payment on a new AC system. Just remember that AC’s are not designed to consume refrigerant. If your system needs refrigerant, that’s a sign there is a leak somewhere within your system.
OPTION 2: REPLACE
Are you hoping that your AC can get through “just one more” season without having to replace it? If this sounds familiar, you may want to consider OPTION 2 instead of putting money into your existing equipment.
At some point, you will need to replace your broken AC. OPTION 2 allows you to purchase a new heating/cooling system on your schedule, without the urgency of living in a hot or cold house. It also gives you the time to evaluate energy efficiencies, products reviews and potential costs of the latest replacements available.
NOTE! Please be aware that due to an anticipated overwhelming amount of work due to this situation, our ability to perform complete system replacements during peak cooling months will be very limited. The entire industry will likely struggle with this. Therefore, we strongly recommend that any replacement work be done out-of-season to ensure a properly working system when it’s needed.