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R-22 Refrigerant Phase-Out: How It Affects New Jersey Homeowners

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ac_2If your central air conditioner has needed a refrigerant charge recently, you may have noticed how expensive it is.

The reason?

The government has mandated that R-22 refrigerant (what most people know as Freon, which is one brand of many) will be phased out slowly over time because it contains ozone-depleting substances. Decreasing the supply of R-22, a refrigerant that many ACs still use, increases the price as a result.

By 2020, R-22 will be completely phased out and won’t be produced. Most new air conditioners and heat pumps will use R-410A refrigerant, which is EPA approved.

So, how else does this R-22 refrigerant phase-out affect you as a New Jersey homeowner? We’ve compiled a few of the common questions people ask about it and answer them here.

“How do I know if my air conditioner uses R-22?”

Simple, check the sticker/nameplate near the refrigerant line on your outside air conditioning unit. It should say something along the lines of, “Notice: This unit requires service equipment compatible with *refrigerant type*.”

If your air conditioner is 10+ years old, chances are it uses R-22.

“Do I need to replace my air conditioner that uses R-22?”

No. There’s no law that says you’ll need to replace your air conditioner that still uses R-22.

When 2020 rolls around no more R-22 can be produced. But your old air conditioner can still use recovered, recycled or reclaimed R-22. But it will be super expensive because of how little supply there will be.

But by 2020, chances are you will need a new air conditioner anyway because the typical air conditioner lives about 15 years.

“Are there any less costly replacements for R-22 that my current AC can use?”

There are alternative replacement refrigerants for R-22 called “drop-ins”. But these substitutes come with some costly caveats:

  • Many of these substitutes aren’t compatible with your air conditioner and will decrease its cooling efficiency. You’d have to make changes to your AC to use the drop-ins properly, which isn’t worth it for older systems.
  • Most manufacturers haven’t approved the use of drop-in refrigerants, so using them will void your warranty.

Learn more about refrigerant drop-ins on the EPA website.

“Do I have to replace my outside AND inside air conditioner unit to use new R-410A?”

Yes. R-410A is a completely different refrigerant. You can’t mix it with old refrigerant or use it in an air conditioner or heat pump designed for R-22. So the inside unit’s evaporator coil (that part the refrigerant flows through) will need replacing to match the outside unit.

Got more questions? Ask us!

Look at the bigger picture here. If your air conditioner keeps needing more refrigerant, then you have a refrigerant leak that needs repairing. So you need to answer these question:

  1. Should I repair the leak or consider financing for a new air conditioner?
  2. Who should I get to repair or replace the air conditioner?
  3. If I do get a new air conditioner, what efficiency/SEER rating should I get?

If you live in New Jersey and need these questions answered, we can help.  Ask our experts for help.

Air Professionals is a whole home comfort company serving New Jersey homeowners. Contact us for more information on how we can help improve your home’s comfort.