As part of a nationwide plan to drastically reduce environmentally harmful emissions, the EPA has mandated the complete phase-out of a common air conditioner refrigerant known as R-22 by the year 2020. The R-22 refrigerant has been identified as a Class II Ozone-Depleting substance by the EPA and Montreal Protocol, forcing manufacturers to shift to the production of AC units that use the EPA-recognized refrigerant R410A as a replacement.
Refrigerants are essential to the operation of residential air conditioner units. These compounds operate within the coils of your unit, where they absorb heat from inside your home and exhaust it outside via the components of an AC system. Unfortunately, the components of R-22 air conditioning systems are not equipped to operate with R410A as the refrigerant, meaning that R-22 based AC systems will need to be entirely replaced in the near future.
Short Term Risks
Current R-22 base system owners should expect their routine maintenance expenses to significantly rise, due to drastic cuts in the production of R-22 in 2015. Unique Indoor Comfort technicians will still be able to stock R-22 for these maintenance requests until 2020, but at a higher cost for our customers.
If the outdoor portion of an R-22 unit were to fail entirely, a R-22 unit replacement would be impossible as manufacturers ended the production of these R-22 based units in 2010.
It is not necessary to replace your system right now. Depending on the age of your air conditioner and the quality of its indoor components, Unique Indoor Comfort’s technicians are still capable of servicing R-22 units without recommending a full system transition until the 2020 cutoff.
“Drop in” refrigerants have gained traction as a possible workaround to full system replacement, but these are short term solutions that are not produced nor backed by manufacturers. Unique Indoor Comfort technicians do not recommend them in the interest of the long term health of your system.
The only long-term solution for R-22 system owners is a full system replacement before 2020. Transitioning to R410A sooner will substantially reduce service costs and help you avoid unexpected issues with your current system. Given the scope of a full air conditioning system replacement, it will be important for homeowners to work closely with trusted HVAC technicians during the process. Communication between technician and homeowners is essential when it comes to making the an informed decision.
How do I know if my system runs using R22 refrigerant?
Depending on the manufacturer, this information can be in a few places. Most often, this information is readily available on the nameplate located on the side of your system’s outdoor condenser. In other cases, refrigerant information can be found as fine print on the manufacturer’s data plate, found either on the condenser or the air handler, or in an owner’s manual.
Can a R22 system be converted to R410A?
No. The use of R410A in any unit not specifically designed for the refrigerant can damage the unit or cause it to malfunction. It would also void the regulatory approval of the equipment. A full system replacement is necessary to eventually transition to R410A.
Will an R410A air conditioner cost more than one using R22?
Currently, due to the end of R22 refrigerant and air conditioner unit production, R410A systems are a much more cost effective solution. However, the total cost of installing a new air conditioner is affected by many factors. Some of these factors may affect the cost of installing a unit using R410A. If you are in need of a new air conditioner, ask Unique Indoor Comfort to inspect your current system and provide you with an estimate so you can make an informed purchase decision.
If you have more questions regarding the phase out of the R-22 refrigerant, give us a call at 610-624-2985 or visit our contact page. We’re happy to help!