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Is freon still used in air conditioning units?

No. The last freon-dependant HVAC systems were produced in 2010, meaning the vast majority of modern systems have not been reliant on freon for quite some time.

What Is Freon?

Prior to the early 2000s, air conditioning systems commonly used a product called Freon to keep homes and businesses cool. This trademarked chemical compound is registered to E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, and it's composed of stable, inert compounds. There was a time when even non-techincal, non-professional people would have recognized the word Freon because the product has a long history related to heating and cooling systems and appliances. Known around the lab as hydrochlorofluorocarbon, Freon was at one time a household name. But times, as we know, are changing.

The EPA Mandate on Freon

Since 1992, the EPA has been working to reduce the use of Freon, mandating that the production of Freon be stopped in full by January of 2020. Fortunately, there has been a long-range plan in place for quite some time to prepare for just such a moment as this. Those of us in the industry, at least, have not been caught completely unaware. The process of switching over has been taking place for a while.

The last Freon-dependant HVAC systems were produced in 2010, meaning the vast majority of modern systems have not been reliant on Freon for quite some time. Instead, most of the newer systems use an HFC chemical (hydrofluorocarbon), one that has been shown to have a vastly different interaction with the environment than the now-phased-out Freon.


Why Is Freon Not Ideal?

Researchers have discovered that there are actually a few reasons why Freon is not an ideal coolant for general use.

Environmental Factors

When Freon was first developed in 1928, we knew significantly less about its impact on the environment. Because it was not flammable, toxic, or corrosive, and because it was odorless, it was seen as a safe and healthy option for the general public to use.

Over the decades, however, as the link between Freon and the deterioration of the environment became clear, scientists were able to show how wide Freon use led to harmful global side effects. In addition to protecting the world from harmful UV rays from the sun, the ozone layer also helps maintain a healthy atmosphere for the earth. Because we want to see our planet continue to flourish, we're happy to make the adjustments we need to make in order to ensure a safe and healthy planet for ourselves and for future generations.

Individual Factors

In addition to the environmental impact, Freon can also have some negative individual impacts. By removing Freon use from homes and businesses all across the country, we've eliminated refrigerant poisoning from freon as a possibility, taking the odds nearly down to zero. Though it's a less common issue, people have been known to suffer harmful direct effects related to Freon. Known as refrigerant poisoning, it occurs when someone inhales Freon accidentally and suffers serious physical symptoms, including the following:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Irritation to eyes, nose, & throat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chemical burns
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Mental confusion
  • Coughing & respiratory difficulties

How Do New Regulations Impact Homeowners?

The short answer? It depends on your individual situation.

If Your AC was Installed Before 2010

If your system is this old, there's a good chance it still uses Freon.  While your system may have a label that names the type of refrigerant it uses, it's always a good idea to have your system checked out by a professional. It's likely time for an upgrade anyway.

If Your AC was Installed After 2010

If your unit is newer, you likely don't have anything to worry about. Still, it doesn't heart to have someone come out and look things over, just to be sure. Better to be proactive than to find yourself without workable AC at some uncertain point down the road.

If You're Not Sure When Your AC was Installed

Maybe you recently moved, bought a new home, or just lost your paperwork or don't have access to the details related to your current HVAC system. If that's the case, it would be in your best interest to schedule a professional a/c contractor to perform an inspection.

Austin Enterprises Can Help

There's never been a better time to consult with a certified professional, evaluate your options, and take care of any necessary repairs, replacements, or upgrades before you reach a crisis point. Eventually, the Freon supply will dwindle completely, and owners of old or outdated systems will have no options. Don't wait until you get to that point. Let us help you stay cool and comfortable. Here at Austin Enterprises, satisfaction is our promise.

Call (305) 805-8166 to schedule an appointment.

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