What Does the Refrigerant Phaseout Mean for Me?

AC-dump-recyclingMany homeowners really take their air conditioning systems for granted, expecting that they’ll just always be there for them when the temperature starts to rise. Now, we’re not suggesting that you start to vocalize your appreciation for all it does to your air conditioner directly. However, we do suggest that you try to establish a baseline knowledge of how your air conditioner operates. This can help you to understand why problems develop, and what something like the upcoming refrigerant phaseout means for you and your system.

You have probably at least heard the term “refrigerant” before, though you may not totally understand just what it does in your air conditioning system. In truth, it plays one of the most vital roles in the whole cooling process. Refrigerant is actually an umbrella term covering many different heat transfer fluids used in HVAC systems. One of the most common — and the one being phased out — is R-22. What does that mean for your AC in Vail, AZ?

Why Is This Refrigerant Being Phased Out?

My air conditioner is still working, so why is the refrigerant that it uses being phased out? This is a totally logical question. The short answer is that the R-22 is not being phased out because of any operational problems. The much longer answer is that it is being phased out due to its effect on the ozone layer.

R-22 refrigerant is a compound that belongs to a notorious clan of substances called hydrochlorofluorocarbons — often (and helpfully) referred to simply as HCFCs. HCFCs deplete the ozone layer, which is a problem considering the fact that refrigerant leaks are among the most common of all air conditioning problems. It also becomes a problem when a homeowner simply wants to dispose of an old air conditioning system.

So What Is Happening with My System?

There is not an HCFC task force that is going to come to your home and snatch your air conditioner up from the slab that it sits upon. However, the phaseout of R-22 does mean that those air conditioners currently using it may run into trouble if they have to be recharged due to leaks. Many companies are not able to bring in as much R-22 as they used to, prices will likely continue to climb, and demand will increase.

The new production of most HCFCs, as well as the simple importation of R-22, is going to be phased out entirely by 2020. That is obviously just a few years off now. What this means is that, if you are looking for a new air conditioner, skip any model that you may find which utilizes R-22 in its operation. Look for an R410-A model instead. There is no point in investing in equipment that is going to become obsolete in a short stretch of time.

If you do require a recharge for your air conditioning system, you should not wait to have the job completed. No, R-22 is not going to simply vanish overnight. With the phaseout looming in the relatively near future, though, its days of ready availability are limited.

G-O-E-T-T-L it’ll keep you cool but it’s hard to spell.