Starting in 2020, new changes to regulations regarding the R-22 refrigerant used in some older air conditioning units took affect. This not only affected your repair costs but the efficiency of your air conditioner. Austin’s most trusted heating and AC repair is here to help you understand these changes, help you repair your existing AC unit, and start the conversation about a potential new unit if necessary.
What exactly is R-22?
Most AC units and other random machinery that requires refrigerant chemicals use one called R-22. R-22 (sometimes called “freon”) is a refrigerant that was used in the coils of residential air conditioning units for many years. In 2020 the Environmental Protection Agency, or the EPA, is halting the production of R-22 in the United States. It is also illegal to import R-22 from anywhere else.
R-22 has been banned because it contains chlorine and other chemicals that have been found to harm the ozone layer. In order to curb some of this environmental damage, the EPA has stopped the production of R-22. Unfortunately, this means that some people have to find an alternate refrigerant to use in their air conditioning unit.
The Cost of R-22
Costs fluctuate based on the supply and demand in your area but it isn’t going down from your last quote on getting your hands on some. R-22 could cost on the average of $200/lb; when an AC unit could hold up to as much as eight lbs of R-22, this can mean a much higher repair cost than people are expecting based on their past experiences.
What can you do about this change?
1. Retrofit your existing AC unit
Some units can be retrofitted to take a substitute for R-22. A lot of new units use a refrigerant called R-410, but units that currently use R-22 aren’t able to be retrofitted to use R-410. Using a substitute chemical may void the warranty on your AC unit so be careful making this choice.
2. Continue R-22
You can find it but be prepared for increasing repair bills and fluctuating costs of R-22.
3. Install a new unit
If your air conditioner is nearing the end of its working life and you are having to find options to keep it running, this may be a good time to consider your other options. Typically, AC units last about 10-15 years before needing to be replaced so units that use R-22 are nearing the end of their life spans anyways.
New AC units use more environmentally friendly refrigerant chemicals, aren’t in high demand, and are less expensive than R-22. Keeping your unit regularly maintained twice-yearly will keep your new unit running effectively and efficiently; this regular maintenance on your AC unit will also catch any problems before they become HVAC emergencies.
Austin’s Best Heating and AC Repair
Austin’s Best Heating and AC Repair has a team of experts who can help you while you are navigating the switch from R-22 to other refrigerants. We look forward to helping you navigate through this transition.