If you have an air conditioner that was installed before 2010, the chances are that it uses R22 refrigerant. Also known as “Freon”, it is a type of hydrochlorofluorocarbon or HCFC. This refrigerant or coolant was introduced sometime during the 1950s and very soon became a leading brand of refrigerant. But that was then when environmental issues were not a major concern. Now, however, things have drastically altered. The prime concern today is to protect the environment. R22 being an HCFC depletes the ozone layer, and hence, it is no more looked upon favorably.
Banning R22 – Montreal Protocol
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the United States of America, determined that R22 is harming the ozone layer over the Earth. When environmental concerns are at their peak, this was not good news. EPA then decided to join hands with other agencies and environmental groups all over the world to phase out products that were depleting the ozone layer. To this effect, an international agreement came into being known as the Montreal Protocol.
R22 Phase Out Progress
In 2003 the phase-out process started. To begin with, its production was cut down drastically, and imports stopped altogether. By 2010 the production and any import of R22 were strictly prohibited. Now, R22 can only be purchased by a certified technician. After 2020, only recycled R22 will be used to service air conditioners still using them.
When Considering R22 Replacement Refrigerants
R410 A is considered to be the best replacement for R22. But the process of replacement is not as straightforward as draining out R22 and filling in R410 A (Puron). Here is a list of things to be aware of when considering R22 replacement refrigerants –
1. Replacement Refrigerant To Mimic R22 Pressure & Temperature – The replacement refrigerant should be able to effectively mimic or copy the operating pressure and temperature of Freon. If the replacement refrigerant fails to do so, it may fry your AC unit.
2. POE Oil Or Mineral Oil – Most old AC units use mineral oil which is less viscous as compared to POE Oil (Polyolester Oil). The bad news is that R22 replacement refrigerants do not work well with mineral oil. If you recently changed your compressor, the chances are that your AC now has the synthetic POE oil. In that case, you can use a suitable alternative refrigerant.
3. Warranty Lapses With Replacement Refrigerant – If your AC is new and still under warranty, replacing R22 with a different refrigerant will make the warranty null and void. It is so because the manufacturer has not tested the unit for any other replacement refrigerant.
4. Completely Drain Out R22 – Under no circumstances, you should mix R22 with any other replacement refrigerant. First Freon should be drained out completely, and the coils should be sterilized so that not even a few clinging droplets remain. Only then a different refrigerant should be filled.
What To Do If My AC Has R22?
Things to be aware of when considering R22 replacement refrigerants do not end with the above list. If your AC has R22, you have three probable choices. These include –
1. Buy a new, upgraded, and more environment-friendly AC unit that uses a refrigerant that is safe and has no harmful effects.
2. Call a trained technician to replace all those parts of your air conditioner which are not compatible with the replacement refrigerant. However, this move is not highly recommended.
3. Keep on using recycled R22 irrespective of its through the roof cost.
Just to be clear, EPA has forced restriction on the use of R22 but has not forced you to abandon your old AC and buy a new one. If your AC uses Freon, it means that you have an old Ac because new ones don’t use it anymore. At some point in time, your old AC will go belly up, and that is when you should buy a new and better AC.
Facts About Replacement Refrigerants
If your AC runs on R22, the knowledge of these facts will help you make a wiser decision –
1. They nullify any and all warranties from the manufacturer.
2. They are suitable only for heat pumps and condensers for which the warranty has already lapsed.
3. They are safer as they do not deplete the ozone layer to the same extent.
4. They should never be mixed with R22 in any amount, large or small.
5. They are usually cheaper than R22.
If Your AC Was Built After 2010
If your AC was manufactured after 2010, you need not worry about it containing R22 refrigerant. As per the regulations, the newer models of air conditioners cannot have it anymore. Instead, only approved refrigerants can be used. However, if you are still in doubt, you can ask an HVAC technician to validate the information for you. You can also check out this little detail yourself by looking at the nameplate on the condenser unit or the outdoor unit of your AC. If for some reason the nameplate is missing or illegible you can check for it online or in the information booklet that came with your unit.
If you are environment conscious and wish to do your bit in keeping the Earth beautiful and green, you need to have a look at the refrigerant used by your air conditioning unit. The best choice is to upgrade to a better and more environment-friendly AC instead of ignoring the issue. For all of us, this may not seem to be a financially viable choice. However, remember R22 is already costly and as it becomes more difficult to procure the price will go up further. A little financial burden now will save you every hard-earned penny in the future.
Now that you know more about the things to be aware of when considering R22 replacement refrigerants buying a new AC would look like a cost-effective solution. It will save you from spending money on a new compressor, recycled R22, flushing costs, etc. If you need any more information on R22 or replacement refrigerants, feel free to contact us at Aztil AC.