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What to Know About the Phaseout of R22

A closeup of an r22 refrigerant box and bottle.

Also referred to as Freon, R-22 is a colorless gas once commonly used as a refrigerant for air conditioners. This substance has efficient heat transfer abilities when cooled to a liquid state. Over time, more environmentally friendly refrigerants were developed and used as the new standard in air conditioning. This blog provides more information on R-22 refrigerant and covers the following topics.

Have questions about R-22? Contact the pros at George Brazil.

Whether you’re looking to schedule AC maintenance, you need AC repairs, or you need expert advice about the phase-out of R-22, George Brazil’s HVAC pros are here to help. Call us at (602) 842-0009 or click below to request an appointment through our website. We offer fast and convenient scheduling, honest and upfront pricing, and a guarantee of 100% satisfaction.

The History of R-22

R-22, a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), was developed in the 1930s by two American chemists, Thomas Midgley Jr. and Charles Franklin Ketterling. R-22 refrigerants are most commonly referred to as Freon, which is also used incorrectly to describe all air-conditioning refrigerants. Eventually, R-22 became the standard refrigerant for air conditioners because it was the first non-flammable refrigeration fluid, increasing the safe use of air conditioning in homes.

Environmental Concerns of R-22

In the 1970s, scientists discovered the chlorine in R-22 was damaging the ozone layer – the invisible shield of the earth's atmosphere that protects us from the damaging radiation of the sun. In fact, the studies determined CFCs were the main contributor of ozone layer depletion.

Ozone layer depletion leads to increased exposure to ultraviolet rays, which cause skin cancer, cataracts, and immune disorders. Exposure to ozone pollution can increase asthma symptoms and other respiratory illnesses. Even healthy people can experience problems when exposed to ozone because it causes inflammation and irritation to the airways. Ozone tends to form outside when the weather gets hot, so basically, anyone who spends time outdoors in the summer can experience symptoms of ozone damage.

In plants, ozone exposure weakens plant life and affects photosynthesis. It can also reduce crop production, so there's less food for wildlife and people.

The Montreal Protocol

Finalized in 1987, The Montreal Protocol was a global agreement to phase out R-22 and approximately 100 other man-made chemicals that deplete the ozone layer. Through passing the treaty, scientists hoped to protect the ozone, allowing it to recover on its own.

Compliance and Deadlines for the Phaseout

The phaseout of R-22 refrigerants began in 2010 in the United States and in many other countries. In the United States, the EPA created a schedule to gradually reduce the production of R-22. As of January 1, 2010, production of R-22 or the import of these products was no longer allowed in the United States except for equipment manufactured before that date. The phaseout is scheduled to continue until 2030, the final date for using R-22. On January 2, 2030, R-22 refrigerants can no longer be produced or imported for any reason.

Retrofitting and Replacement of Existing Systems

Retrofitting refers to converting existing systems that use R-22 so they use more environmentally friendly refrigerants, such as Furon or R-410A. A certified HVAC technician can replace parts on your air conditioner so that it accepts R-410A. Once converted, you may notice repairs are more affordable.

How to determine if your AC system uses R-22

The easiest way to determine if your current HVAC system uses R-22 is by checking the manufacturing date. Typically, any unit manufactured and installed before 1996 still uses R-22. The best place to find the date is to find the data plate on the outdoor condensing unit. If the plate is missing, you can contact the manufacturer or schedule an appointment with a qualified HVAC technician.

Alternatives to R-22

In addition to Puron, there are other alternatives to R-22 refrigerant. These non-ozone-depleting refrigerants comply with the new refrigerant standards and are just as effective at cooling your home. Some of these include R-407C, commonly used in retrofit systems, and R-404A, used in commercial refrigeration.

Still have questions about R-22? Contact George Brazil’s HVAC experts.

If you're still unsure if your HVAC system uses R-22 and you need an AC tune-up or if you have an older unit and are looking for a more energy-efficient and safe system, George Brazil can help. Contact us at (602) 842-0009 to schedule service with one of Phoenix's most trusted HVAC companies.