If you own an air conditioning unit that uses the refrigerant R-22 (commonly known as Freon), you probably have some concerns and a lot of questions about the phaseout of this refrigerant, as well as the “Freon ban” taking place in the United States in 2020. In order to clear up some of the confusion, we will be answering some of the most frequently asked questions below so that you can know what to expect going into 2020 and beyond.
WHAT DOES THE 2020 BAN ON R-22 (FREON) ACTUALLY RESTRICT?
Calling it a “ban” can be somewhat confusing because that implies that there will be a universal ban on manufacturing as well as using R-22. That is not the case.
These are the restrictions that will go into effect starting in 2020:
- It will be illegal for domestic chemical manufacturers to manufacture new R-22.
- It will be illegal to import new R-22 into the United States.
After 2020, pre-existing supplies of R-22 can still legally be used.
WHAT IS THE REASON FOR THE R-22 PHASEOUT?
R-22, also known as HCFC-22, is being phased out by a number of countries in favor of refrigerants that are better for the environment, such as R-410A. The phaseout of HCFC-22 is part of an ongoing phaseout of HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons). Ultimately, HCFCs will be completely phased out by 2030.
WILL I BE FORCED TO REPLACE MY AIR CONDITIONER IN 2020 IF IT USES R-22?
You will not be forced to replace your air conditioner in 2020 if it uses R-22. The ban on R-22 applies to only the manufacturing and importing of new R-22, so you will legally be able to continue to use your air conditioner as usual.
CAN I STILL GET MY AIR CONDITIONER REPAIRED WITH R-22?
Technically, the answer is yes. In 2022, it will still be legal for you to get your air conditioner repaired/serviced with R-22.
However, because this refrigerant is being phased out, the supply of R-22 is shrinking. This means that R-22 will become harder to obtain and, consequently, will become more expensive as the demand for it increases. Eventually, this refrigerant will be phased out completely, or you may find that your money is better spent on purchasing a new, energy-efficient air conditioner. So, air conditioning services have been advising customers to buy new ones.
HOW CAN I TELL IF MY AIR CONDITIONER USES R-22?
If your air conditioner was manufactured on or after January 1, 2010, it will not use R-22, due to the regulations that were in place. However, if your AC was manufactured before that date, it’s best to check its refrigerant type because R-22 was commonly used for a long time.
Most people don’t know off the top of their head what kind of refrigerant their air conditioner uses. The owner’s manual is the best place to look that up, but most people don’t keep the owner’s manual either. If you find yourself in this boat, simply look for the nameplate on your air conditioner’s outdoor unit.
Often you will find the refrigerant type along with your AC’s model number on the nameplate. If you can’t find the refrigerant but can find the model number, jot down the model number and either contact your AC’s manufacturer to find out the refrigerant or look up the model number online on the manufacturer’s website. You can also get help from an hvac installation service.
CAN I SWITCH TO A DIFFERENT REFRIGERANT WHILE KEEPING THE SAME AIR CONDITIONER?
Not exactly. Your air conditioner was built to handle one type of refrigerant, and trying to switch refrigerants on it would be a huge mistake. However, some air conditioners can be retrofitted to accept the EPA-approved refrigerant R-410A. Whether or not this is the best decision for you financially varies from person to person.