When Should I Replace My Air Conditioner with R22 Freon Refrigerant?

As of January 2020, R22 freon refrigerant is no longer being produced or imported into the U.S., because of how harmful the chemicals are to our stratospheric ozone layer (i.e. the ozone layer that protects us from harmful UV radiation that causes cataracts and skin cancer). However, used R22 freon that is cleaned to the same specifications as the new refrigerant continues to be available.

Replacing vs. Repairing an AC Unit with R22

If you have an HVAC system that uses R22, you may be tempted to try to recharge your system with R22 despite its price or modify your system to accommodate an alternative refrigerant instead of replacing your system. We strongly advise against that, though.

Waiting to replace a system that uses R22 freon is risky, and we suggest replacing your system now for many reasons, including:

  • R22 freon is expensive and a replacement may be cheaper. Since R22 freon was phased out, the coolant has become more and more expensive. Currently, the cost of R22 freon, when it is available, is about $125 per pound. If your system needs more refrigerant, you may be looking at quite a hefty bill, and a replacement may end up being cheaper. However, you may have to wait a while for a replacement, which can be very inconveniencing.
  • R22 is bad for the environment. As we mentioned, R22 was discontinued because of its harmful impact on our ozone layers, and by continuing to use the product, you are continuing the harm.
  • Systems, that use R22 freon, are also older systems. These systems may need to be replaced sooner rather than later because of their age.

As a cautionary tale, Roseann Cyngier, of Arco Comfort Air, shared this story: “Recently I worked with a couple whose air conditioner leaked R22 and wasn't worth replacing. The couple needed a new unit as soon as possible as they had medical needs. Unfortunately, waiting until the unit broke down was not a good choice as others who had no cooling also had priority situations. Although we can install up to 10 installations a day, the possibility of the next day was not feasible and she spent several days at her daughter's condo with ac. So, do not wait until your system breaks down, especially if you are older, have a newborn baby or there are medical issues in the household.”

Does My Air Conditioner Use R22 Freon?

It isn’t hard to figure out whether your system uses R22 freon refrigerant. You can either:

  • Check the manufacturing and installation dates since units made before 1996 use R22 (units manufactured between 1996 and 2010 may use R22 or R410A)
  • Look up the system’s specs online
  • Ask your HVAC contractor as they should have your system’s information saved in their files (if they have serviced your HVAC before you ask)

What Refrigerants Are Available That Do Not Harm the Ozone Layer?

There are a number of “ozone-friendly” refrigerants in circulation today—the most popular of which is R410A (also referred to as SUVA 410A, Forane 410A, Puron, and GENETRON Az-20). R410A is a blend of two hydrofluorocarbons, but unlike R22, it is handled and maintained in accordance with the EPA’s Refrigerant Management Program requirements.

To schedule an appointment or discuss replacing an AC system with R22 freon, contact Arco Comfort Air today online or via phone (216) 220-2566.

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