Wintertime A/C replacement has its advantages—the process is usually less expensive and easier to arrange during this time of year. Come January 1, 2020, however, you'll have another reason to ditch your current A/C system. That's when the ban on R-22 refrigerant production goes into effect, making it harder and more expensive to have older A/C systems serviced.
If you have an older A/C system that still uses R-22 refrigerant, now is the time to consider your options. The following sheds some light on the upcoming R-22 phaseout and how it could trigger your next A/C replacement soon.
Why R-22 Is Being Phased Out
For decades, R-22 was the go-to refrigerant for HVAC technicians and manufacturers thanks to its efficient and effective performance. However, that performance came with a steep cost—as an ozone-depleting substance, R-22's negative impact on the ozone layer makes it unsafe for long-term use.
Over the decades, the EPA has worked in tandem with other agencies throughout the globe to curtail and eventually end the use of harmful ozone-depleting products, including R-22 refrigerant. The upcoming phaseout will put an end to fresh R-22 production and sales in favor of alternatives with little to no impact on the ozone layer.
How It Affects Your Air Conditioner
Long story short, the end of R-22 production will make it harder and more expensive to keep your current A/C system. Current supplies of fresh R-22 will shrink, forcing HVAC professionals to scavenge and recycle refrigerant from existing machines. If your R-22-based A/C system needs a recharge, you'll end up with a steep repair bill beyond 2020.
What You Can Do to Prepare
The best way to handle the upcoming R-22 phaseout is to replace your current unit with one that uses R-410A, a newer and more efficient successor to R-22. This option gives you better performance and greater peace of mind when it comes to your home's cooling needs.
If you're not quite ready to part ways with your A/C system, there are a couple of stopgap measures to consider. First, you can keep your existing A/C system and use a "drop-in" refrigerant in place of R-22. Drop-in refrigerants offer much of the same performance as R-22 without requiring drastic changes to your A/C system.
Or, you could keep your existing A/C system but have it converted to use R-410A. A typical conversion usually requires a new condensing unit, cooling coils, and copper lines, which could easily exceed the cost of a completely brand-new system.
The first option can buy you more time to plan your eventual A/C replacement while the latter option lets you get the most use from your existing A/C equipment. If you're unsure which option is best, contact local air conditioning replacement services.