Why is this important and what you need to know.
Whether you are planning to stay in your home/business, sell the one you are in, or buy a new one, you should be aware of the type of system and refrigerant your system is using.
Most air conditioning systems primarily use one of two types of refrigerant, the older R-22 or the newer R410A. Many home inspectors only pay attention to how old a system is and in the past, this detail was typically overlooked because it didn’t make much difference, until now.
The EPA has recently classified HCFC-22 or R-22 Refrigerant as a class II ozone depleting substance and is now highly regulated which means any new production, import and use is being phased out by 2020. This is causing the price of the R-22 refrigerant to skyrocket and prices will continue to go up daily. This will not change. Many manufacturers are now regulating the amount of R-22 being sold to contractors.
What this means to you is that if your system uses R-22 and you have a leak or repair needing to be done, the cost to repair the leak or fix the unit could potentially be far more expensive to recharge the system versus buying an entirely new R410A System.
How can you tell the difference?
Each outdoor unit has a label that will clearly show you what type of refrigerant your system is using. Many A/C units up until 2015 could still be manufactured using R-22.
I’ve checked my label, now what?
If you have an air conditioning system that is using R-22 you will need to hire an HVAC contractor to inspect your system and check for any leaks. If you have leaks, get them fixed right away. This will save you money in the long term and prolong the life of your system.
As a side note, you cannot add R410A to a system designed for R-22.
This can be very dangerous and create damage to your home or office.
There are a few alternatives you can ask your contractor about that are considered drop in replacements or alternatives to R-22 such as MO99, R-421A, NU22 or R-407C. Many of these can be used in place of R-22 but will require additional work such as flushing the system in order to make this work. These are considered band-aids and could buy you time before investing into a new system altogether.
For more information regarding R-22 phase out, please visit https://www.epa.gov/ods-phaseout