Less than a year remains before a law banning the production of a common air conditioner refrigerant goes into effect. As part of Sections 601-607 of the Clean Air Act, manufacturers aren’t allowed to make Freon, also known as HCFC-22 or R-22, and must phase it out of use completely by January 1, 2020.
What does this mean for Birmingham homeowners with HVAC units that rely on Freon air conditioner refrigerant? Below we help clear the air about the upcoming R-22 ban and ways to stay in compliance with the new regulations.
Air Conditioner Refrigerant 2020 Regulations
For decades, residential air conditioners used R-22 as the main air conditioner refrigerant chemical. Studies found HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons), the chemicals refrigerators and air conditioners use to cool, contribute to ozone depletion and climate change.
The Environmental Protection Agency issued a mandate phasing out the production of R-22 by January 1, 2020.
What the Air Conditioner Refrigerant Regulations Mean for Homeowners
The good news for Birmingham homeowners? Air conditioning systems made after 2010 no longer rely on R-22. Instead, most new units use a more environmentally-friendly air conditioner refrigerant called R-410A. Also called Puron, it’s an HCFC harmless to the ozone.
If you had an HVAC technician install a new air conditioner sometime over the past decade, it’s possible it’s compliant.
However, it’s still best to look for your air conditioner’s refrigerant type on your condenser’s nameplate, consult your user’s manual, or check with an HVAC technician just to be safe. Have you scheduled a tune-up for your air conditioner yet? Now’s a great time. You can verify refrigerant compliance as well as benefit from maintenance services.
If you cool your home with a pre-2010 AC unit that uses R-22, you have a couple options:
Option #1: Retrofit Your Current AC System
You’re not required under the mandate to buy a new air conditioner. However, you cannot drain your unit of R-22 and switch to an ozone-friendly air conditioner refrigerant.
Different refrigerants operate at different pressure levels and need different components to run. The retrofit process requires an HVAC technician to replace parts of your system to coincide with a new environmentally friendly refrigerant. Skipping this step may lead to system failure, in which case you have to purchase a new system anyway.
However, if your older AC unit’s coils are compatible with R-410A refrigerant, it’s possible for an HVAC professional to replace the condenser without modifying other components throughout your house. While costly, it keeps your current system working and in compliance with the mandate.
Option #2: Replace Your Older AC Unit
Retrofitting older air conditioners often costs as much or more than a new unit installation. Therefore, many homeowners replace their AC unit with a new system designed to use R-410A or other permitted coolants.
The average lifespan of an HVAC system is 15 years. A new unit ensures greater long-term savings through increased efficiency. Plus, system replacement eliminates the R-22 replacement cost and higher energy bills for the next several years.
Count on Douglas Cooling & Heating to Keep You Up-to-Date with Air Conditioner Refrigerant Rules
In conclusion, proper installation, servicing and air conditioner refrigerant replacement requires special training to prevent leaks of harmful chemicals. Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating for professional advice about the type of air conditioner refrigerant in your HVAC unit or the best solution for the older air conditioner unit in your Birmingham home. If you’re ready to upgrade, we offer finance options as well.
We serve customers in Bessemer, Homewood, Hoover, Calera and Mountain Brook. You’ll also see our trucks en route to customers in Chelsea, Pelham, Helena and Vestavia Hills. Need a plumber? We recently expanded our services to include plumbing such as water heater installation, leaky faucet repairs as well as water quality and drain cleaning.