What Do I Need to Know about R22 Freon?

As the summer heat kicks in, the team here at GAMA Air will start getting more calls on central air conditioning systems that aren’t cooling like they should. In some cases, we will recommend a total cooling system replacement. Why recommend an air conditioner change-out when you might think a repair would be enough? Some of our friends and neighbors in and around the Beverly Hills, Culver City, Mar Vista, Miracle Mile, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, Westwood, Downtown Los Angeles, Vernon, Huntington Park, Sherman Oaks, Encino might not be aware of developments over recent years in the air conditioning industry.

One of those changes has to do with the refrigerant used in central heating and cooling systems. For many years, the common refrigerant in nearly all AC units was R22, or Freon. (Freon is a common brand name.) However, due to the chemical composition of R22 it was deemed a contributing factor to the depletion of the ozone layer. Starting in 1992 the production of R22 began to be regulated to gradually taper off. Then beginning in 2010 no new air conditioners could be manufactured with R22 refrigerant. And after 2020 R22 won’t allowed to be manufactured or imported. This means that after January 2020, the only R22 that can be used is what is in stock, and there is no way to predict what will happen to the supply, or the prices, after that. That’s just three years away.

For that reason, if you find yourself in a situation where you have an older R22 system that needs a repair, you need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of trying to keep it going and starting with a new system. The law of supply and demand has now driven up the price of R22 turning some simple repairs that used to be fairly inexpensive into costly repairs. Add to that the fact that in less than three years some repairs on your R22 AC unit won’t even be possible, requiring you to replace it. Keep in mind, this phase-out has been a long time in coming, since 1992, so there is little chance that there will be a significant change to this time-line.

Here’s some basic facts about R22:

  • R22 contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer
  • Since 2010 R22 is no longer used in newly-manufactured air conditioners
  • Starting in 2020 R22 will no longer be made or imported
  • R22 is less energy efficient than newer refrigerants because it is less capable of absorbing and releasing heat.

What newer refrigerants are more energy efficient? What do you need to know about that? That will be the topic of an upcoming blog post.

Do you have a question about an upcoming installation of a central air system in your home? Visit our Ask an Expert page, fill out the form, and the resident expert here at GAMA Air will respond quickly with the answer.

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