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What the R22 (Refrigerant) Phase out Means for Your HVAC System

If your AC or heat pump was built and installed before 2010, it likely contains R22, an ozone-depleting refrigerant that is now phased out. While you can still use existing R22 in your current air conditioner or heat pump system, future repairs will require you to make some important decisions about your HVAC system. In this month’s blog, the home comfort specialists at Main Stream Mechanical discuss your options for heating and cooling beyond R22.

Why is R22 No Longer Available?

The Montreal Protocol protects the ozone layer by phasing out substances that deplete or contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer. As R22 refrigerant has been proven harmful to the environment, it will no longer be manufactured or imported into the US. When the EPA began phasing out R22, or freon, HVAC equipment was redesigned to run on R410A, an eco-friendly refrigerant. 

How do I Know if my System Uses R22? 

One way to tell which refrigerant your air conditioner uses is to check the large sticker or plate on the compressor or evaporator.  You can also ask your home comfort specialist.

What if my AC or Heat Pump uses R22?

The ban doesn't mandate that you replace a functioning R22 refrigerant AC or heat pump system. However, you may need to evaluate your options if your air conditioning or heat pump system fails or needs emergency repairs. Options include:

1. Continue Use - While this may appear to be the simpler solution, a repair that requires adding more refrigerant could become very costly, as R22 will only be available through reclaimed or previously-produced R22 refrigerant. With limited supply, the price of R22 refrigerant is likely to increase, and you may end up paying more for that service or repair.

2. Replace System - Taking a proactive approach allows you to purchase a new heating and cooling system on your terms. You can thoroughly evaluate energy efficiencies, products reviews, and costs of the latest replacements available. New systems may have improved features and benefits that are an upgrade from your existing system.  

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3. Retrofit System - While you can’t just swap out R22 for another refrigerant source, because the systems are incompatible, an HVAC professional may be able to retrofit your current unit to work with another refrigerant. These “drop-ins” require extensive expertise and are typically more costly because different refrigerants need different parts to run. Additionally, retrofits nearly always void your manufacturer’s warranty.

Benefits of Regular Maintenance

Whether you continue to use, replace, or retrofit your system, it’s a good idea to follow through with routine maintenance by a home comfort specialist. Professional maintenance keeps your heating and cooling system operating at optimal efficiency levels and alerts you to small issues before they become expensive problems.

HVAC Installation, Service, and Repair in NH and MA

If you’re unsure about the refrigerant in your system, or you’ve been considering a new HVAC, contact our home comfort specialists today. We’re ready to help. 

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