Common Coolant R22 (Freon) Production Halts January 1, 2020
When your air conditioner is working properly, the coolant in your system is probably something you never even consider worrying about. As a matter of fact, even when your air conditioning system fails, you can generally count on your local technician to have it up and running in no time. However, if you have an aging system, and your repair involves the addition of refrigerant, it might be time to consider other options.
You might have never heard of R22, but if you use any type of air conditioner you've likely heard the refrigerant's more common name of Freon. This common coolant used in the majority of older air conditioners contains an ozone-depleting substance. Therefore import and production of R22 in the United States will be illegal beginning on January 1, 2020. While this doesn't mean you'll be breaking the law by using your air conditioner, it does mean repairs for your older system could become more expensive.
Dwindling Supply of R22 Drives Up Prices
This news might seem sudden, but it's actually been in the works for a decade. On January 1, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the production and transport of R22 except for continued service of existing equipment. Manufacturers responded by creating new air conditioning units designed to use a chlorine-free coolant called R410A. In 2015, the ban was extended to only allow production and transport for continued service of refrigeration equipment. On January 1, 2020, the ban becomes complete, allowing no more production or transport of R22 in the United States. This means consumers using R22 for continued repairs will have to depend on recycled or stockpiled supplies.
Unfortunately, the systems depending on this dwindling supply of coolant are already aging and more likely to need repairs. As homeowners avoid the potential expense of installing a new system, the supply of R22 shrinks and prices continue to rise. This leads to more expensive repair bills for homeowners with older air conditioning systems in their homes.
Which AC Systems Will Be Affected by the Discontinuation of R22?
If you have an older air conditioning system, you might be worried about the changes coming your way. After all, temperatures in Florida can rise quickly and you don't want to be stuck with a broken air conditioner for any length of time. So, how do you know if your system will be affected by the change?
Older systems are the ones that use R22. If your air conditioner was built and installed before January 1, 2010, it probably uses R22. Ten years is a long time, so it's likely that many homeowners have no idea when their AC unit was installed. If that's the case, your equipment might have a label that explains the type of refrigerant used. Asking a certified air conditioning technician is the safest way to know for sure about the type of coolant your system uses.
Options for Keeping Your Home Cool After R22 Halts Production
Investing in a new cooling system is a big decision for you and your family. Obviously, air conditioning is more of a necessity than a luxury when you're facing Florida's heat and humidity. Still, a new system can be expensive--especially when the old one is working just fine. To be clear, you will not be forced to replace your air conditioning system just because it uses R22. However, determining when you should consider a new system will eventually be necessary. If you know your older AC unit uses R22, you'll most likely need to consider the following options.
Wait it Out
If your system is in good working order, you can leave things the way they are until you encounter a problem. Technically, a healthy air conditioner doesn't use up Freon, so you wouldn't need the refrigerant until a problem arises. However, if your system is leaking and regularly getting topped off with R22, this will quickly become expensive.
If you have an older system that you know needs repairs, you could pay for the system to be repaired to avoid future R22 costs. This option is always more risky, simply because as your air conditioner nears the end of its life span it is likely to require repairs more often. Additionally, if you actually need a replacement during the summer, you might end up waiting in line as demand for replacements rise.
Replace Your Aging Air Conditioner with a Modern System
There's no doubt that the expense of an AC system is an expense no one is looking forward to. Unfortunately, these systems do have a life span that eventually runs out. The decision about whether to replace your aging system often comes to a question of expenses. If you have an aging system in your home that runs perfectly fine, you might be comfortable waiting for at least a year. However, if your air conditioner has recently required repairs, it might be time to consider the benefits of early replacement. While a new system can be costly, it would be considerably more expensive to foot the bill for repairs on an old system compounded with the eventual cost of a new one. While installing a new air conditioner seems like a big expense, it's also a valuable investment. Consider these benefits that will outweigh the costs of a new system over time.
- Lower energy bills - Modern air conditioning systems are more efficient, allowing them to cool better at cheaper costs.
- You beat the rush - As R22 becomes more expensive, many homeowners will be making the switch. Getting your installation early could prevent the misery of a failure during the sweltering summer months.
- An improved system - Technology is always improving. If your air conditioner is over a decade old, there's no doubt new advances have been made. A new AC unit will likely make your home much more comfortable when the summer rolls around.
If the air conditioner in your home is an older system and you're unsure about the use of R22, an experienced AC technician can help. Contact Austin Enterprises today to learn more about your options when dealing with an air conditioning system that depends on Freon. Our team can inspect your air conditioner to determine if you use R22, evaluate the health of your system, and help you understand your options for keeping your home cool in the future.