R22 Phase Out, Protecting The Environment & Keeping Cool
Changes in the environment can mean big changes for homeowners. One of these changes involves our air conditioning systems, specifically the coolant that may be circulating through it. Back in the 1970s, the EPA determined that R22 or Freon, our most common AC coolant, was partly responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer in our atmosphere. This was allowing an increased level of harmful UV radiation. The damaged ozone layer was causing earth’s increasing temperatures, which can be harmful to people and crops, and to sun damage that can lead to cataracts and skin cancer.
Fast forward to 1987. The international committees that tracked R22’s environmental changes recommended that it be phased out of use, along with many other ozone-depleting chemicals. So far, nearly 90% of R22 has already been phased out. To put this in perspective, 110 million pounds of R22 were available in the United States in 2010. By 2013, the supply was only around 39 million. This year supplies may drop to 13 million pounds this year. According to scientists, the reduction efforts have been successful and the ozone layer is repairing itself.
However, one of the consequences of this phase-out of R22 means that it will be more expensive to replace your R22 coolant with more R22. R22 will be completely banned from production in just a couple of years. If you recently purchased a new HVAC system you may not have this problem, because your unit may already use a different coolant. But, if your system was installed before 2010, you’re going to have to find a solution to your R22 delima. One option is to keep paying increasingly higher prices for R22 until your HVAC system completely collapses and requires a replacement system. Another option is to replace an older HVAC system with a newer one now and enjoy years or trouble-free air conditioning. There is also the option is to use a replacement coolant that can be installed into the current system.
There are many refrigerant blends on the market, but using them as a replacement for R22 may void the warranty on your HVAC system. Many of these refrigerants haven’t been extensively tested by the HVAC system manufacturer as the replacement for R22. Replacing R22 requires draining and flushing the entire HVAC system. The lines and compressor may have to be replaced as well.
At Baker Brothers, we think that using one of the many replacement blends for R22 doesn’t serve our customers’ best interests. There are too many issues with using replacement blends. The only R22 replacement we feel comfortable using is R410A. R-410A can absorb and release more heat than R22, so your air conditioning compressor can run cooler, which reduces the risk of compressor burnout due to overheating. Systems designed for R410a have been shown to have up to a 40% higher cooling capacity compared to R22. R410A behaves more like R22 rather than a typical refrigerant blend. it can be recharged into the system repeatedly without danger of inconsistent mixing. R410A is also one of the safest options with an A1 ASHRAE safety classification.
All air conditioners use an oil to keep the compressor lubricated during operation. R22 air conditioners use mineral oil and R410A systems use a synthetic oil. The synthetic oil is generally more soluble with R410A than mineral oil is with R22. This means the R410A system operates more efficiently reducing wear and tear on the compressor.
Climate Friendly HVAC Services In The R22
For most homeowners, having a professional, reliable HVAC technician inspect your specific system is really the best option. Basing your R22 replacement decision on the advice of the experts, who have taken you HVAC systems age, maintenance, and future efficiency into consideration will bring peace of mind. At Baker Brothers, we’re ready to help you make the most of your HVAC system.