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The Phase Out of R-22: What You Need to Know

What is R-22?

R-22 is a widely used hydrocholofluorocarbon (HCFC) in the HVAC industry. Non-flammable and very abundant, this refrigerant quickly became the industry standard for residential and many commercial air conditioners. R-22 works as the heat transfer medium within an HVAC unit, and without the proper refrigerant, climate control would not be feasible.

When and why will R-22 be outlawed?

As a result of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, the complete phase out of R-22 is required by January 1, 2020. This means that new R-22 may not be produced in the United States, nor may it be imported to the United States. The refrigerant is being phased out due to its high ozone depletion potential (ODP) and its contribution to global warming. This can be linked to its chemical make-up containing chlorine, which is detrimental to the environment when it combines with other elements.

How will this affect my R-22-dependent system?

The only affect for homeowners and business owners is the increase in price of R-22 due to the supply scarcity. Owners are not required to replace their R-22 systems; however, in many cases it may be more economically feasible to replace an old R-22 system with a new R-410A system, especially if the R-22 system is leaking refrigerant or requires costly repairs.

What will replace R-22?

R-410A has quickly become the primary replacement for R-22. While R-410A is cheaper and considered ozone-friendly, it also has its own shortcomings – namely, it operates at different pressures than R-22 (potentially problematic for retrofitted systems), and it is a zeotropic blend, which can make charging a system more difficult. Additionally, if the Kigali Amendment is ratified, R-410A could be phased out in the 2020s.

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