Is the air conditioner or cooling system in your Phoenix area home more than 10 years old? If so, you should know that your air conditioning system or mini split heat pump could be using a soon-to-be-banned refrigerant, R22! Here’s what you need to understand about how regulations are changing at the end of the year and whether you need mini split or AC replacement.
Why is R22 Being Banned?
R22 (also called HCFC-22 or Freon) is a synthetic chemical that is commonly used in refrigeration systems like air conditioners and heat pumps. Emissions of R22 have been discovered to be a greenhouse gas and a contributor to ozone layer depletion and climate change.
The EPA began to phase out the use of R22 and other ozone depleting substances, or HCFCs, in 2010, when the production, import, and use of R22 for new equipment was banned. Under this change, however, R22 could still be produced and imported for servicing needs of existing equipment.
According on the R22 refrigerant phase-out schedule, starting January 1, 2020, the production and import of R22 will be completely banned. Any systems using R22 will have to rely entirely on recycled or stockpiled quantities.
Does the R22 Ban Affect Me?
What this means is that if you bought any heating or cooling system that uses refrigerant (like an air conditioner or ductless mini split heat pump) after January 1, 2010, it doesn’t use R22. But if your system is older, you very likely could be affected by this new change!
While you won’t be required to stop using R22 air conditioners or heat pumps, servicing those systems will become more and more difficult. As the remaining R22 stockpiles diminish, costs will rise and you’ll be faced with the decision of paying for repairs or just replacing your system entirely.
What Do I Do If My AC Unit Uses R22?
If you’re affected by this phase-out, you have three options: repair, retrofit, or replace.
Repairing Your Air Conditioner or Heat Pump
We’ve already discussed the potential downside of repairing your AC with refrigerant that’s no longer being imported or produced. If you have a refrigerant leak, the cost of replacing it with R22 makes this option more and more unaffordable moving forward.
Retrofitting Your Air Conditioning Unit or Mini Split
It is possible to retrofit your existing air conditioning or heating system to work with another refrigerant, but the work needs to be done by a licensed professional AC or heat pump dealer. This is to make sure that your product manufacturer’s warranty will remain in replace, and to ensure that the R22 refrigerant is safely disposed of. It is worth mentioning, that we do not endorse or perform this option.
Replacing Your Air Conditioner or Ductless Heat Pump
When you start to add up the costs of repairing or retrofitting your existing system, you may find it makes the most economical sense to upgrade now to a refrigerant HVAC system that uses R410A, a safer, chlorine-free refrigerant.
If your unit is over 10 years old, you have many ways to benefit from upgrading your home aside from environmental compliance. Today’s HVAC and air conditioning equipment are more efficient, with higher SEER ratings than older models. The minimum SEER rating allowed to be installed in our Phoenix climate zone is 14 SEER, but we often recommend going higher than that due to energy savings and performance. Installing new heat pumps or AC units in your home can result in:
- Lower energy bills
- Increased comfort
- Less frequent repair calls (especially with regular AC maintenance!)
Contact Ideal Energy to Help Solve Your R22 Problems
If you’re worried about the upcoming R22 ban in 2020, and aren’t even sure whether your Tempe, Scottsdale, or Mesa home HVAC system uses this harmful chemical, give the professionals at Ideal Energy a call. As a local leader in heating and cooling, we can diagnose the condition of your system, layout the different options available to you, and provide our expert opinion on what we believe is the right decision for your home.