Will I Be Affected By the R-22 (Freon) Refrigerant Ban in 2020?

As you may know, air conditioners rely on a key component in order to cool the air in your home: refrigerant. What many people don’t realize is that different AC models use different types of refrigerant. One of those types of refrigerant, R-22, is being phased out in favor of more environmentally-friendly refrigerants.

While this federal regulation is not going to directly impact everyone who owns an air conditioner, it will still impact a large number of people. Before the ban in 2020 arrives, make sure you equip yourself with the following information about it.

How do I know if my air conditioner uses R-22?

If your air conditioner was manufactured prior to January 1, 2010, there’s a strong chance that it uses R-22. (R-22 is also referred to as HCFC-22, Freon, and R-22 Freon.)

If you still have the owner’s manual for your AC, check there first to see what kind of refrigerant your AC uses. If you didn’t keep the manual, don’t worry--check the nameplate on your AC’s outdoor unit (AKA. the condenser). If the nameplate doesn’t list the refrigerant type, make note of your AC’s model number, and then call the manufacturer or check the manufacturer’s website.

My air conditioner uses R-22: how will I be affected by the ban?

The ban on R-22 is structured in order to phase out the use of this refrigerant without forcing consumers to immediately purchase a new air conditioner. You will still be able to use your air conditioner, and you will not be required by law to replace it.

These are the restrictions surrounding R-22 that will go into effect in 2020:

  • Domestic chemical manufacturers will be prohibited from producing new R-22.

  • Importers will be prohibited from importing new R-22.

If your air conditioner uses R-22 and needs to be serviced, here is how you may be affected:

  • Your AC can still be serviced with R-22 that has been recycled, reclaimed, or previously produced.

  • R-22 will become increasingly limited, which will drive up the price of this refrigerant and make it harder to obtain.

Why is this ban taking place?

HCFC-22 (AKA. R-22) has been designated as an ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)--in other words, it’s a substance that damages the Earth’s ozone layer. In order to combat climate change problems, the Montreal Protocol was established by a number of nations in 1987 and later amended in 1992 to phase out the production of HCFCs.

Fast forward to 2019. The phaseout of HCFCs is in progress, with a ban on the production and import of HCFC-22 (R-22) and HCFC-142b going into effect in 2020. By 2030, there is going to be a total ban on the production and import of all HCFCs.

Can I start using a different refrigerant in my air conditioner?

In order for this to work, an HVAC technician would need to replace some of your system’s parts so that it can start using R-410A (AKA. Puron), an EPA-approved refrigerant. However, this may not be the best long-term investment. Air conditioners last approximately 12 to 15 years, so if your air conditioner is already nearing its retirement years (which it most likely is), it would probably be best to put your money towards a new, energy-efficient system that meets EPA standards.

At Morrison Plumbing, Heating and Air, we like to think we are in the customer service business; we just happen to be professional air conditioning contractors as well. If you need assistance with replacing your R-22-based air conditioner, we can help you select an energy-efficient system that is both eco-friendly and cost-effective.