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R-22 Refrigerant: What You Need To Know

Commercial HVAC Services
r-22 freon
Photo courtesy of Daniel Kennectz

What’s the problem?

The problem with R-22 is that is contains CFCs that deplete the ozone layer when released into the air.
R410a refrigerant has become the industry standard and is more environmentally friendly than R-22.

Montreal Protocol and the R-22 Phaseout Schedule

The Montreal Protocol mandates an annual reduction of R-22 production and a complete phase out by 2020 to help protect the ozone layer

In October 2014, the EPA announced its final phase-down schedule of HCFC-22 (R-22) over the next 6 years. The decision called for immediate drop from 51 million pounds allowed in 2014 to 22 million pounds in 2015, 18 million pounds in 2016, 13 million pounds in 2017, 9 million pounds in 2018, and 4 million pounds in 2019.

No new or imported R-22 will be allowed in the U.S. on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

You can still buy it, right?

Steady demand, coupled with shortened supply has caused prices to skyrocket from $15 per pound a few years ago, to $75 per pound and more today – annual allowances have decreased faster than the market demand for R-22, which has depleted inventory across the supply chain. Service demands for R-22 in the U.S. are still estimated to be in the tens of millions of pounds per year, and many R-22 users will need to transition to an ozone-safe alternative. By 2020, the market prices for what supply is left will cause prices to be painful.

Staying ahead of the phaseout is our solution to our customers to avoid the volatility of the pricing of R-22 for your servicing needs.

How do I know if I have R-22 refrigerant?

– The best way is to check the data information plate on your outdoor unit
– If your AC was installed before 2005, it most likely has R-22 Refrigerant
– If you still can’t tell, call us out for unit checkup and we can verify it for you

Who needs to be concerned?

Everyone with an R-22 system? No

However, people who have a slow refrigerant leak needing 1-2lbs per year would want to get ahead of this issue. A refrigerant leak is like a leak in your tire. It gradually gets larger with time and at some point you will have to get a repair. Start planning to replace you AC system now to avoid these cost concerns in the next few years.
How about people needing more than 2lbs annually? You need to get ahead of this to avoid volatile prices and we suggest scheduling a meeting with us to discuss your options.