If your existing equipment is more than 10 years old then it is likely operating with R-22 refrigerant, which has been phased-out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Due to this phase-out, R-22 refrigerant is no longer being produced or imported in the U.S. since January 1st, 2020.
For decades, Freon, also known as HCFC-22 and R-22, was the main refrigerant chemical used in residential air conditioning units and heat pumps. To help protect the ozone layer, the EPA has mandated that the production of Freon be stopped by January 2020.
The good news is that new air conditioning systems made since 2010 no longer rely on Freon. Most newer AC units use a refrigerant called R410A, or Puron. This chemical is an HFC (hydrofluorocarbon), but has been shown not to harm the ozone and, since 2015, has become the standard for residential air conditioning.
So what does that mean to you?
If your AC unit has been replaced in the last 6 years then you’re probably in the clear! Older units 6 – 10 years of age possibly can be retrofitted to an alternative refrigerant (not R410a) and anything older than 10 years will likely need to be replaced. In the meantime, if your unable to replace your old system and depending on the extent of your repairs, fixing components of an R-22 system may be expensive. While R22 is still available it is extremely expensive and the current supplies will eventually run out. At that point your current R22 system will be unable to be recharged and you will experience reduced output, resulting in increased discomfort, as well as increased energy costs as the days get warmer.
What can you do?
If repairs to your system are becoming increasingly expensive, or you are unable to have your equipment serviced entirely, you can look into new, more energy efficient systems that run on the now readily available R-410A refrigerant. After all, the average lifespan of a residential HVAC system is 15 years. Modern air conditioners are more environmentally friendly and also more energy efficient. Lower utility bills are a factor to consider when determining the best solution. Many homeowners choose to replace older systems rather than to retrofit them because it ensures greater long-term savings.
Homeowners can trust the EPA-certified technicians at Mitchell. Proper installation, servicing and refrigerant replacement requires special training to prevent leaks of harmful chemicals. If you are unsure about the type of refrigerant used in your HVAC unit or would like professional advice on the best solution for an older unit, call us at (800) 237-3835.