R-22 Refrigerant Is Getting Harder to Come by--Maybe Now's the Time for that A/C ReplacementThere’s a change occurring in the air conditioning industry. That change involves the long-term phaseout of R-22 refrigerant in favor of an environmentally friendlier alternative. If your home is being cooled by an older A/C or heat pump, you may want to see what’s in store.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of phasing out production of R-22 refrigerant, currently used in the vast majority of air conditioning systems in the U.S. R-22 contains chlorine, which erodes the ozone layer if vented into the air. The EPA is operating under a timetable under which the manufacture of R-22 refrigerant and other formulas containing the hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) compound will be banned by 2020. In the years leading up to that deadline, new supplies of R-22 are being reduced every year, with supplies this year expected to be 30 percent less than last year.

Instead of using R-22, A/C systems built after 2010 must use alternative refrigerants, with the most common one for U.S. cooling systems being R-410A refrigerant. However, it can’t be mixed with R-22, nor is it usable in systems designed for R-22 without substantial modifications. Conversely, R-410A can’t be used in older R-22 systems.

If you have an A/C or heat pump that’s pre-2010 and reliant on R-22, you probably don’t have to worry about the dwindling supplies of R-22 refrigerant unless your system is older than eight or 10 years. It’s uncommon for newer cooling systems to require refrigerant recharges, unless they were undercharged at installation. Just keep in mind that as supplies dwindle, keeping your R-22-based A/C system tuned up will get more expensive, and may become prohibitively so.

For most homeowners with R-22 reliant A/Cs or heat pumps, the R-22 phaseout probably means they should consider a replacement a bit earlier than otherwise, if they want to avoid the hassle and expense of repairs and maintenance involving R-22. The good news is that you can consider an energy-efficient cooling system upgrade that will markedly improve A/C performance with long-term energy savings. The latest A/C systems also feature numerous energy-saving technologies that ensure quieter operation and improved performance.

To find out more about the R-22 refrigerant phaseout and how it might affect you, please contact the professionals at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. Since 1970, our focus has been on delivering excellent HVAC service to Greater Indianapolis customers.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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