Did you have any idea that since the 70s, a massive ozone hole right above Antarctica has been opening each spring? Furthermore, some places of the hole displayed an ozone level depletion by as high as 65 percent!
Also, researchers discovered that the hole expanded to a size as large as North America. That is roughly 25M sq. km! According to scientists, the primary culprits include CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), especially HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons). They include the R-22 refrigerant utilized by the majority of ACs back then.
Due to this, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) ordered the phase-out of R-22. It is illegal to import or produce most hydrochlorofluorocarbons, which includes the R-22 Freon, as of 1/01/2020.
Here’s the question: what does the ban have to do with you as a routine HVAC user? What’s Freon anyway? We will answer all of those questions; therefore, go ahead and read further!
R-22 Refrigerant: What Is It?
R-22: it’s the most common type of the HCFC-22 chemical, a kind of Class II ozone-depleting substance. You probably know R-22 through the name “Freon”.
HCFC-22, as a refrigerant, is the chemical that cools or heats the air that HVAC systems generate. When the fluid passes through the HVAC unit parts, it’ll change to either gas or liquid.
Then, those transformations make the refrigerant cold or hot. Those changes make the chemical fast to absorb or radiate heat from passing air. It’s how the HVAC system heats or cools your house.
R-22: it was the most common kind of refrigerant utilized in HVAC equipment up until Jan. 1st, 2010. The EPA, at this point, banned its import, production, and usage except for current equipment, which means if you have an HVAC system made before 1/01/2010, it probably uses R-22.
Determining Which Kind of Refrigerant Your HVAC System Utilizes
If you aren’t sure of your HVAC unit’s date of manufacture, look at the compressor’s label. It’s the part typically installed outside the home. The label clearly tells you if it utilizes R-410A (refrigerant used in new units) or R-22 (HCFC-22).
What is in Store for Homeowners Who Have R-22 ACs
The Jan. 2010 ban still permitted the use and production of HCFC-22 for current units. That exception lasted up ‘til Dec. 31st, 2019. It’s how HVAC system owners who used R-22 still had the ability to get their units recharged.
As of Jan. 1st, 2020, however, the Environmental Protection Agency has fully banned the use and production of HCFC-22. HVAC systems that still utilize R-22 would need to rely on “stockpiled” or “recycled” R-22 supply.
If you still own an R-22 air conditioning unit, it’s possible to expect more expensive refrigerant “recharge” costs. Because after all, the Environmental Protection Agency ban means that the R-22 is set to become even scarcer than it currently is. That scarcity then will drive up the price of HVAC refrigerant “recharges”.
Within the majority of cases, ACs require a refrigerant charge because of leaks. One strong indication that you have a leaky refrigerant is if the air condition unit freezes up. A technician must seal the leak then top the refrigerant up to make the AC run again.