The production and import of R22 refrigerant, a chemical that was often used in older heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, will be prohibited in the United States after January 1, 2020. The phase-out has been in progress since the signing of the Montreal Protocol on September 16, 1987. This treaty outlined steps to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of a variety of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). This ban on importing or producing R22 will be the next step in the series of steps that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlined in the Clean Air Act. As 2020 gets closer, you may have questions about what this means for your HVAC.
Some of the most common questions about the phase-out of R22 refrigerant:
What is R22 Refrigerant?
R22 is the shortened name for chlorodifluoromethane, which is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC). HCFCs and related compounds called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were common in refrigerants until the late 1980s. These compounds change from liquid to gas in air conditioning systems to transfer heat.
Why is R22 Being Banned?
R22 refrigerant used to be the standard for HVAC systems. However, scientists eventually discovered that the chlorine in this chemical contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer. As a result, the Montreal Protocol began the phase-out of R22 in 1987. The 2020 ban continues this process.
Can You Buy R22 After 2020?
After January 1, 2020, the import and production of R22 refrigerant will be banned in the United States. This does not impact existing systems or any R22 that was in the country before 2020. However, experts expect the cost of R22 to rise significantly as the supply decreases. Once the supply is depleted, HVAC units using this refrigerant will be obsolete.
What happens when R22 is phased out?
If your HVAC uses R22 refrigerant, you will not notice an immediate change, as the 2020 ban does not impact existing equipment. However, any repairs will become more costly over time. Eventually, you will need to replace your old unit with a system that uses a different refrigerant.
Servicing Your HVAC System with R22 Refrigerant
If you have a heating and cooling system that uses R22 and you are not planning to replace it in the near future, we recommend scheduling preventive maintenance as soon as possible. If your technician finds any potential problems, this will allow you to fix them now while R22 refrigerant is still able to be produced and imported. This can increase the length of time that your HVAC functions before you will need to replace it.
Replacing Your AC System
Even with the best possible maintenance, you will eventually need to replace your air conditioner if it uses R22. If you do this sooner rather than later, it allows you to plan for the expense. Replacing your unit now also means you won’t be left without air conditioning unexpectedly.
Prepare for the R22 Refrigerant Phase-Out
If you would like to schedule service or installation before the R22 refrigerant ban takes effect, Signature Heating and Cooling can help. Our HVAC experts are here to help you prepare for the phase-out.