R22 Phase Out Means HVAC Changes

Our environment is constantly changing, in big ways and less obvious ones. Even small changes can make a big impact. For homeowners, one of these changes involves your HVAC system and the refrigerant it uses.  One of those refrigerants frequently used, R22, is no longer considered safe for the environment by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the 1970s, the EPA determined that R22, commonly known as Freon, was partly responsible for damage done to the Earth’s ozone layer, The ozone layer protects the earth’s surface from damaging ultraviolet radiation. R22 is also a powerful greenhouse gas with a significant global warming potential. Because of the combined risk of global warming and ozone layer depletion, the EPA started implementing changes to protect the environment by phasing out the use of R22.

The international committees that monitor environmental changes recommended that R22, along with many other ozone-depleting chemicals, be phased out of production. Nearly 90% of the common uses of R22, such as being used as propellants in aerosol cans, have were phased out of use rather quickly. But, use in HVAC systems took longer to discontinue because those systems were designed to operate for decades. 110 million pounds of Freon were in available supply in the United States in 2010. In 2013, the available supply was down to only around 39 million pounds. This year supplies dropped to 13 million pounds. R22 reduction will continue until the year 2020. By the end of the year, R22 will no longer be produced.

For homeowners, the impact is that all the refrigerant servicing needs of your R22 using HVAC systems will depend on the existing and rapidly declining stockpile. The consequences will be high prices for R22 until the stockpile runs out and replacement equipment is the only good option for an R22 system that is leaking or has any repair needs that involve the refrigerant circuit.

Newer HVAC systems use a blended refrigerant called R410a. R410a cannot be directly introduced into an older R22 unit. Parts designed specifically for R-410A must be used as R-410A operates at higher pressures. R-410A systems also require HVAC service providers to use different tools, equipment, safety standards, and techniques  However, R22 HVAC systems can be retrofitted with replacement equipment to use R140A in most cases. The behavior of R410A in HVAC systems keeps efficiency high and energy use low. This new eco-friendly refrigerant does not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. R410A will replace R22 as the industry standard refrigerant for residential HVAC systems and will be in ready supply at a reasonable cost when service is required.

Homeowners need an experienced, reliable HVAC service provider to inspect their existing system and offer a professional recommendation based on age, maintenance history and future repair costs. Basing your R22 system replacement decision on the advice of the proven experts at Abacus will bring you peace of mind. Abacus is ready to make the most of your HVAC system. Call us today at 713-766-3605 or schedule your free estimate on a new HVAC system using the form on this page.

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