R22 or Freon is a refrigerant that is very widely used. The problem is that this refrigerant is in the last stage of a phase-out and will be out of production by the end of 2019. The phase-out is not new and was set out in 1987, but the impact is going to be coming soon to most homeowners.
Why Does The R22 Phase Out Affect You?
You might be wondering why a phase-out of R22 will impact you and why you need to consider how to manage it. The answer is simple, your AC unit probably runs on R22. If you bought your AC unit after 2010, there is a chance that it uses a different refrigerant, but any units from before 2010 will have R22.
This refrigerant was commonly used even after the phase-out started as there were no alternatives at the time. The reason why this refrigerant is being phase-out is the harm it does to the ozone layer. It has been scientifically proven that R22 causes ozone depletion and will need to be removed from circulation.
As the refrigerant will no longer be available after 2019, you will not be able to replace the refrigerant in your AC unit. This will cause a number of problems for your system which can be avoided by managing the phase-out right now. There are a number of solutions that you can consider with some being better than others.
Do Nothing And Wait For A Breakdown
The first solution that you have for managing the phase-out is to do nothing. This is not actually recommended because of the issues that it will bring. The issues that you face will vary depending on when the breakdown of your AC unit occurs.
If this happens before 2020, you will have to consider if you should repair or replace. Replacing your system might be the best solution at this point, but an emergency repair may still be possible. The only issue is that R22 replacement units will be harder to come by the closer to 2020 we get. This is due to the increased demand which could leave you without an AC unit for a fair amount of time.
If the breakdown occurs after 2020, production of R22 will be illegal. This means that the price of the refrigerant will skyrocket as the only supply will be stockpiles. As the supply dries up, the prices will increase more and it could be cheaper to simply replace the unit.
Retrofit Your R22 Unit
If you do not want to replace your unit or wait for it to break down and handle the problems associated with that, you could retrofit. Retrofitting your AC unit will involve keeping the older system and updating certain parts to ensure that it can work with other refrigerants. It is important to note that this option will not actually work for all systems. If you want to consider this option, you have to determine if your system is eligible for it.
While retrofitting is a cheaper option to replacing, there are some issues that you need to be aware of. There are certain manufacturers who state that retrofitting will cause a decrease in system performance. This is important because it will increase the energy costs of running the AC.
If your AC unit is still under warranty, retrofitting might also void this. You will have to check with a professional regarding this to ensure that you are still covered should anything happen to the unit after retrofitting. A professional will also be able to advise on the best retrofit for your system and whether or not the system can handle this.
Replace Your AC Unit
Another option that you have will be to replace your AC unit now. While this is the most expensive option, it will be the safest and the best in the long-term. Of course, the overall costs will vary depending on the number of units you will have to replace.
If you have multiple units in your home such as window units, this option could be too expensive to handle all at once. The solution could be to replace one unit at a time to spread the costs. If you have a single central unit for your home, the costs may be more manageable. After all, you will not have to replace the ductwork and only the actual AC unit.
One of the benefits of replacing your AC unit now is that you will get modern technology. Newer AC units are more energy efficient and they will lower your energy bills. You can also ensure that you have a system that is the right size for your home.
The new AC units will all run on newer refrigerants. There are a number of R22 alternatives being used and you need to find out which one your new unit will use. It is recommended that you buy from a reputable AC company to ensure that you are not getting an older unit that never sold and still runs on R22.
Use A Drop-In Alternative
You might be wondering why you cannot simply replace your R22 with a different refrigerant. This is due to the fact that R22 works very differently to other refrigerants. The newer refrigerants will be unable to run properly in an R22 unit and will cause damage to the system.
There is actually only one drop-in replacement for R22. A drop-in replacement means that you will be able to remove the R22 and put the new refrigerant into the system. Of course, it is important to note that not all AC manufacturers state that you can use this drop-in replacement in their systems. The use of the refrigerant could void any warranties that you have so you might want to verify before you try this.
R22 is being phased out and the end of this is fast approaching. If your AC unit still runs on this refrigerant, you need to know what your options are for managing the phase-out.