I always took my home's heating and cooling system for granted. That is until I found myself battling one of the hottest days in years and my air conditioner simply refused to turn on. After contacting my local HVAC contractor, I learned that my cooling coils had frozen over from a lack of maintenance. He did get my AC back up and running that day, but he also helped me to look at my heating and cooling system in a whole new light. I have spent a lot of time over the last few years learning more about how to properly maintain my HVAC system and ultimately lower my energy costs. Today, I would like to share this knowledge with you so that I can help you to avoid some of the costly mistakes I have made in the past.
If you have an older air conditioner that was made in the early 2000s, your HVAC specialist may be advising that you replace it -- even if it only needs a minor repair or is working acceptably. This might seem odd at first, but there is a good reason for this recommendation. R22, the refrigerant used in these older air conditioners, has been being phased out for a while.
What is R22?
R22 is a coolant that was used inside the coils of air conditioners made in the early 2000s. Basically R22, like all refrigerants, cools as it expands. Your AC unit cycles air past the cooled coil, which lowers the temperature of the air before it's blown through your home.
Why is R22 being phased out?
R22 was found to cause ozone depletion. Basically, when it evaporates, it contributes to the breakdown of the ozone layer in the earth's atmosphere. Ozone depletion has been linked to global warming and also increases the UV radiation that makes it through the atmosphere, increasing the risk of skin cancer.
Because R22 is so bad for the environment, it is being phased out in favor of a new, more earth-friendly refrigerant called R401-A. Today's modern residential air conditioners all run R401-A instead of R22.
Why does the phase out make it important to replace your air conditioner?
R22 has been being phased out for a while. Less and less of it has been made each year, and in 2020, production will be halted completely. Because of this, R22 has become extremely hard to find and very expensive. If your early 2000s air conditioner is breaking down and needs new refrigerant, it may be cheaper -- or nearly cheaper -- to replace the air conditioner than to track down some R22 to repair it.
Even if your AC unit is working properly right now, your HVAC technician may be recommending repairing it because it has started to show some signs of wear and tear, making a breakdown likely in the coming months. If you replace it with a new, R-401A unit now, you'll avoid having to go without AC when it does break down in a few months.
The bottom line is that although R22 is still available, it's very expensive, and since your air conditioner is nearing the end of its lifespan anyways, it's not usually worth paying to refill it. To learn more about the R22 phase-out, speak with an HVAC technician such as John Legg's Heating & Air Conditioning.Share
5 June 2017