Freon – If You Have It, It’s Time To Replace Your Air Conditioner

It’s 2020 – new refrigerant regulations are in effect.

What does that mean for you?

Back in 1992, the EPA decreed that hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) should be phased out of use as they were determined to contribute to ozone depletion and global warming. These chemicals make up a small part of the greenhouse gases found to be impacting our environment, but because of their makeup, they trap thousands of times the heat levels in the atmosphere as compared with carbon dioxide.

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons

Freon - If You Have It, It’s Time To Replace Your Air Conditioner

also known as HCFC22, R22, and Freon – was the main refrigerant chemical used in many residential air conditioning units. When new regulations were put into place, they provided guidance to stop the production of Freon by the end of 2019. That means now, as of January 2020, Freon is no longer produced.

How does that impact you? Depending on when you last purchased your air conditioning unit, it might already be using a different type of refrigerant. New air conditioners made after 2010 no longer use Freon, but instead use a refrigerant called Puron, or R410A. This is made from a chemical called hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), which has been shown not to harm the ozone. Since 2015, this has become the standard chemical in new air conditioners.

If your air conditioner is ten years old or newer, chances are it’s using the new R410A. HVAC professionals have been aware of this since the regulation went into action, and they’ve steadily upgraded their clients’ homes with newer equipment as they make changes to their systems.

If, however, you still have an air conditioner that uses Freon, you don’t have to jump into action immediately. Freon isn’t harmful to the environment unless it leaks or is disposed of. If your unit is working properly, you don’t have to replace it now.

But keep in mind that Freon will no longer be produced or imported, meaning your current unit will only be repairable with Freon already in existence. Once that stock is eliminated, you will need to replace your old unit with one using R410A.

In some cases, retrofitting is possible. But you can’t simply switch refrigerants and use R410A in place of Freon. Newer air conditioners were built to work only with specific chemicals. If the coils in your current system are compatible with R410A, modifying the components may be possible. Keep in mind that this can be expensive, and if your air conditioner is already several years old, the better solution may be to simply replace it with a new system.

If you have any questions about Freon or an air conditioner upgrade, we’re happy to help.

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