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Ask the Expert: Will phase-out of R-22 refrigerant affect my HVAC system?

Answer by Monte Herness, Technical Support Supervisor, Ellingson Plumbing, Heating, A/C & Electrical

Will the phase-out of R-22 refrigerant affect my HVAC system?

R-22 refrigerant, or “freon,” has been the most common refrigerant in residential and commercial air conditioners and heat pumps over the past several decades. However, it became illegal to import or manufacture effective Jan. 1, 2020.

In 2010, the EPA banned any new HVAC systems that used R-22 due to its damaging effects on the ozone layer. They also mandated a complete ban on manufacturing or importing the chemical itself starting Jan. 1, 2020.

In a properly working AC, the R-22 levels shouldn’t change. However, if a repair is needed and the R-22 refrigerant leaks out, replacing it will be expensive and difficult to obtain.

Does your air conditioner use R-22 refrigerant or “freon”? If so, repairs will be more costly going forward. Contributed photo

If your current unit uses R-22 you can continue to service your system. Yet, any replacement R-22 will be hard to get and more expensive. For example, we recently purchased six cylinders of R-22 and that cost the same as a whole pallet (44 cylinders) back in 2008. As a result, an upgrade to a newer system may be preferable to paying for costly repairs.

If you purchased a new HVAC system since 2010, you should be OK. However, if you have an older unit, you can check your unit to determine what type of coolant is used. If the model plate sticker on the side says “HCFC-22 or R-22,” your system uses the older coolant that the EPA phased out.

If your AC system is running well, you don’t need to change a thing. Your refrigerant levels should not change in a properly running system. However, replacement R-22 is hard to find and very expensive if you have a leak or other issue. Proactively replacing your AC system is recommended to avoid higher costs in the future. This allows you to purchase a new HVAC system on your schedule, without urgency. And gives you time to evaluate energy efficiencies, and potential costs of the latest replacements available. Many features and benefits are available today that weren’t available when your current system was installed.

Find out more

If you have an R-22 system please reach out to Ellingson Plumbing, Heating, A/C & Electrical. We’ll evaluate your current system and walk you through some of the cost benefits of replacing your older system with a more energy-efficient system. Visit or call 800-595-8645.

“Ask the Expert” is sponsored content (paid advertising) provided by Ellingson Plumbing, Heating, A/C & Electrical. To learn how your business can promote its products and services like this, contact Sr. Perspective (see Page 5A).

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