As of January 1, 2020, R22 refrigerant will be phased out and considered illegal in the United States. After being introduced in the 1950’s, R22, commonly known as Freon, quickly became the leading AC refrigerant across the cooling industry, however it was soon discovered that the emissions from R22 and many other synthetic chemicals had created a hole in the Earth’s ozone layer. While the phase out of R22 began many years ago, the phase out plan will soon come to completion as it will no longer be produced or imported.
In 1987, a conference known as the Montreal Protocol was held to discuss the harmful effect of many chemicals on the Earth’s ozone layer. The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with many other agencies and groups from around the world came together to plan and initiate regulation and phase out of many ozone depleting substances (ODS), including types of refrigerants. The air conditioner refrigerant was identified among the most harmful substances.
The first major steps towards phasing out R22 production and imports began in 2003. By 2010, production and import of R22 had been prohibited, however current and existing air conditioners using R22 were continued to be serviced as long as there was still an available supply. To help regulate its effects and limit the risk of exposure, laws went into affect in which sales of R22 could only take place by certified technicians. In 2020, however, a complete ban on the production, import, and use of R22 Freon will be implemented. After this, only recovered, recycled, or reclaimed supplies will be available for the servicing needs of existing equipment.
If you have an older model air conditioner that requires R22 refrigerant, you have a few options as the phase out is completed. While you will not be required to replace R22 systems, it will become increasingly expensive to service or repair when refrigerant is needed. You can choose to continue using your system and deal with the cost of a repair if that moment arises; you can also choose to convert you equipment to accommodate an EPA approved refrigerant; or you can upgrade your system entirely.
According to the EPA, the most important step you can take if you have an R22 system is to continue to maintain and service your air conditioner properly by AC technicians with an EPA Section 698 Certification for servicing equipment containing R22. With routine maintenance, you can help to minimize the potential damage from R22. There are also many alternative refrigerants that available that do not harm the ozone layer, making a retrofit or conversion a worthwhile alternative to consider.
If you choose to replace your entire air conditioner system, you can rest assured that they will not use R22. After 2010, it was prohibited to manufacture new systems that use R22 so newer air conditioners are likely compliant with EPA regulations. An expert HVAC technician from South Jersey Energy Service Plus will be able to check you system and let you know if it uses R22.
For more information about the R22 phase out and how it may affect you, contact our team. As a trusted South Jersey AC repair company, we have full knowledge of the phase out and are prepared to help you find the best solution.