Will I Have to Stop Using HCFC-22 (R-22) in My Home Air Conditioner?

March 18, 2020

As of January 1, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has banned the production and importation of Freon (also known as R22 and HCFC-22) into the United States. R22 is a refrigerant that is used in many commercial and residential cooling systems, but it has a toxic effect on the ozone. If your home air conditioner relies on Freon, you might wonder how the R22 phaseout will affect your home in Tampa, FL.

What does the phaseout include?

The R22 phaseout first and foremost means that no one can manufacture or bring R22 into the United States, in an effort to switch to units that use more environmentally-friendly coolants. Obviously, not everyone can immediately switch to brand-new air conditioning units; fortunately, the EPA has taken this into account when implementing the ban.

While all units that use R22 are now technically obsolete, that doesn’t mean you’ll have to suffer without air conditioning until you’re able to buy a new unit. First, consumers and HVAC contractors are still allowed to use the existing supplies of R22—they just won’t be able to make or import more. This gradual cutback is designed to allow HVAC units to be serviced until their expected lifespan is complete.

Second, you are (still) no longer be able to buy HVAC units that rely on R22 (which is a good thing). As of January 1, 2010, your options have been comprised of more eco-friendly systems. In fact, if you bought your system after that date, you likely have nothing to worry about.

Finally, you can expect that R22 will get more expensive as supplies dwindle, but your HVAC contractor may have access to reclaimed or recycled R22.

How does the R22 phaseout affect people in Tampa, FL?

To see if your HVAC unit requires R22, look at the nameplate on the outdoor condenser—it should list whether it uses that coolant or something else. Another clue might be its age. If you bought your unit before January 1, 2010, it more than likely relies on R22.

If you find that your unit does rely on R22, you have a few options. First, you can simply continue to use it, making sure it’s regularly serviced, until it no longer works. Your maintenance and repair costs may become slightly more expensive over the years, but if you’re not ready to replace your unit, this is the easiest option.

Second, you can make the switch now—which would be prudent if your unit is older and struggles to keep your home cool.

Finally, in some cases, you may be able to replace the condenser alone, but the EPA has very specific regulations. Contact an HVAC contractor to ask which option is right for you.

Kenny’s Air Conditioning & Heating Services, Inc. offers high-quality installation, repairs and maintenance. Our family owned and operated business serves Tampa, FL and the surrounding areas, helping you maintain your HVAC system all year long. Call us today to schedule your next HVAC service appointment and find out why our clients love us.

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