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R22 Refrigerant Phase-Out: Know Your Options

Monday, June 25th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Close-up photo of the insulated refrigerant pipelines connected to the air handling unitRefrigerant. It’s one of those terms you’ve likely heard before. You probably have an idea of what it is, and maybe even a very basic understanding of how it works, but that’s probably where your knowledge ends.

You may have even had a handyman or misleading professional tell you at some point that refrigerant needs to be refilled (what we in the HVAC industry call recharged) once a year—this isn’t true. If your system is losing refrigerant, it means you have a leak that must be repaired before being recharged. Ideally, your air conditioner is supplied with enough refrigerant upon installation to last its entire lifespan.

If you have an older system (10 years +) chances are very likely that it has refrigerant in it called R22. This type of refrigerant is being phased out due to its harmful effects on the environment, particularly its ozone-depleting properties.

“Can I Still Get R22 For Now?”

If you’re replacing your current air conditioner with a new one, it automatically will not have R22 in it and will instead have a newer, safer version of refrigerant. R22 is no longer being produced or imported to the states. There are companies out there offering what’s called a “drop-in” solution, which is replacing current R22 refrigerant with HFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbon) refrigerant.

While this is an option that some homeowners are taking advantage of, instead of upgrading their current air conditioner, this has significant disadvantages. The main problem is that when you introduce a refrigerant that your particular air conditioner was not designed for, you lose air conditioning efficiency. In fact, you can lose as much as 12-15% of that efficiency.

This is terrible for system functionality as it means your air conditioner has to work harder to do its job. This wears down on the air conditioner’s components and will cause your cooling bills to rise. If you already have an aging system, the problem is exacerbated even more.

“So, Should I Upgrade My Air Conditioner?”

To fully enjoy the benefits of an efficient air conditioner, the best thing you can do if you have an aging system still using R22 refrigerant, is to replace that system. Air conditioners today are designed with much higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings than those of the past, so even with the refrigerant issue aside you’ll be benefiting from increased efficiency.

It’s important to note as well, that you don’t have to stick with a traditional central system if that’s what you’re currently using in your home. There are a number of options available on the market today. You may choose to get a heat pump—this type of system functions like a central system except that it has a reversing valve so you can use it for heating in the winter. Heat pumps are ideal in climates with hot summers and mild winters. Therefore, it can be a great choice for your Phoenix home!

Or, you might choose to forgo ducts altogether, to eliminate indoor air quality concerns and increase efficiency even more, and have a ductless system installed. We’re happy to discuss all your options with you should you decide to go ahead and upgrade your air conditioner.

Have more questions about refrigerant? When you need Phoenix, AZ air conditioning services you can rely on, you needn’t look any further than Cool Touch Air Conditioning and Heating. Contact us today!

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