If you have an old air conditioner or heat pump, chances are it may still be using R22 refrigerant, an ozone-depleting substance that was phased out back in 2020. If you have one or both in your home, here the air conditioning contractors at Shackelford Heating & Cooling discuss what this means for you.
R22 & Your HVAC System
Heat pumps and air conditioners use refrigerant to generate warm or cool air. R22 (also known as Freon or HCFC-22) is one type of refrigerant, and was one of the most popular for years. However, it was banned in 2010 in new systems due to its environmental impact and was gradually phased out. Existing systems can still use R22; however, production of the substance stopped completely as of January 1, 2020.
If you have an existing heat pump or air conditioner that uses R22, you can continue using it for the rest of its service life as long as it doesn’t develop a refrigerant leak, because repairing it would involve “recharging” or refilling the refrigerant. Your residential air conditioning service contractor can recharge it with R22, but supplies are becoming scarce, and therefore more expensive.
What if You Want to Keep Your HVAC System?
If you want to keep your existing HVAC system, you have a couple of options:
- Keep up with scheduled maintenance. You can make sure that your HVAC system receives regular maintenance and hope it doesn’t develop a refrigerant leak. This may help you get more years out of it until it’s time to get a new one, but won’t prevent its eventual replacement.
- Switch to a different refrigerant. Some air conditioners and heat pumps can be retrofitted with a converter that enables them to work with a different refrigerant like R410A. However, this isn’t the most cost-effective option due to the parts and labor required, and is generally only considered if you’ve only had your HVAC system for a few years.
An unplanned heat pump or air conditioner replacement may not sound like the most attractive option, but it’s the best and most cost-effective one. Have your HVAC technician inspect your system and give you estimates for a retrofit versus a new system. Chances are, the difference in cost will likely be minimal. Also, consider the benefits of a new system: improved efficiency, updated features and years of reliable performance. Most importantly, it will be future-proof, as it will be using a refrigerant type other than R22.
Call Shackelford Heating & Cooling for Your HVAC Needs
Shackelford Heating & Cooling provides residential heating services to customers in Madison, WI, and the surrounding communities. Give us a call at (608) 835-7755 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.