If you have a basic understanding of how your air conditioner in Washington, D.C. works, then you understand that the refrigerant in your system plays a vital role in the cooling process. Refrigerant is a heat transfer fluid that is evaporated in the indoor coil of your air conditioner. As the refrigerant evaporates, it draws heat out of the air surrounding and passing over the evaporator coil. The heat is released outside as the refrigerant is condensed, and the cycle continues until the desired temperature is met.
What you may not realize, though, is that “refrigerant” is an umbrella term covering many different heat transfer chemical blends. R-22 is one of the most common refrigerants used in air conditioning systems today. It is also being entirely phased out of use and production in accordance with the Clean Air Act of 2010. 2020 will mark the completion of the R-22 phaseout.
Why Is R-22 Refrigerant Going Away?
The short answer is because R-22 refrigerant, which is a Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), plays a role in the depletion of the ozone layer. Now, the ozone layer may not be as hot a topic as it once was, and this is in large part because steps have already been taken to prevent its depletion. R-22 refrigerant, and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons in general, is actually an improvement over CFCs, or Chlorofluorocarbons, such as R-12. Production of such refrigerants ended in 1994. However, HCFCs still do play a role in ozone depletion.
What Is Replacing R-22 Refrigerant?
Okay, so R-22 refrigerant is going away. What’s coming in to replace it? HFCs, or Hydrofluorocarbons, such as R-410A and R-134. There is no chlorine in these refrigerants, which means they are generally accepted as being safer for the environment. Additionally, the newer systems designed to use these refrigerants actually operate more efficiently, protect air quality, and are more reliable than those using HCFCs.
Can I Still Get R-22 for My System?
The question here is not really so much whether or not you can get R-22 for recharging a system that has lost refrigerant to leaks, but if it is actually worth getting more R-22. While HVAC companies continue to stock R-22, and while R-22 is still reclaimed from older systems, there is definitely a big shift away from these types of systems in general. With this shift comes greater scarcity, and that can drive up the cost of R-22 in many different areas.
R-22 Systems and R-410A Refrigerant Don’t Mix!
If you think that you’ll just hang on to your existing air conditioning system and switch over to R-410A refrigerant, we have bad news. These systems and these HFCs are not compatible with one another. If you start to run into issues with your R-22 AC, especially if the issue has to do with refrigerant lines or leaks, you should seriously consider replacing your system with an R-410A compatible model. 2020 is just around the corner, and by the time that the phaseout is complete, it is not just the production of R-22 that will be gone. There will be no R-22 importing, either.
Have any questions about the phaseout, what it means for your system, or your AC replacement options? Then contact the professionals here at Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. for the answers that you seek.