What are the latest updates in R-22 refrigerant? Understand the latest changes regarding R-22 refrigerant and why R-22 refrigerant will be phasing out soon.

Charging a residential heat pump system with refrigerant

You may or may not have heard of R22 refrigerant, but the phasing out of this refrigerant may affect you and the way you stay cool this spring and summer. Before the topic heats up, here are some fast facts to answer some common questions about R22 refrigerant:

1. What is R22 refrigerant?

Answer:  Isn't R22 the robot from the big sci-fi mega movie? No, not R2-D2. Actually, R22 is a refrigerant gas. Refrigerant gas is what an air conditioner uses to produce cool air. R22 refrigerant was most commonly used in air conditioning units up until 2015. 


2. Who decided that it needed to go away?

Answer: The decision to ban the use of R22 refrigerant came from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), by phasing out all production of virgin hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-22. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to eliminate different types of R22refrigerant in specific phases, making R22 refrigerant much harder to source. The production of R22 refrigerant was dramatically reduced in 2014 and will continue to reduce each year. Production and consumption of R22 refrigerant will be totally phased out by 2020. 

3. What should I do if my A/C was manufactured before 2004?

Answer: Turn it into a decorative lawn ornament? No. you don’t have to go that far. You can still have your A/C unit serviced with R22 refrigerant if available, but the cost per pound is high and will continue to increase. Another option is to replace R22 refrigerant with an alternative EPA approved HFC refrigerant. The cost for alternative refrigerants is much less, but it does require labor to fully evacuate the R22 refrigerant and replace with the alternative refrigerant and may require the replacement of some parts. Or, you could take the plunge and get a new, modern, energy-efficient A/C unit. Most of the components of such systems last on average 10-15 years, even when they are well maintained. A new A/C system can help lower your energy bills, too.

4. Will it cost me more money to get my A/C fixed now?

Answer: The short answer is, "Probably, yes."

The alternative refrigerant costs much less than R22 refrigerant, but it does require flushing the system of existing refrigerant prior to charging your system with the alternative refrigerant you choose to use in place of R22 refrigerant. R407C is approved by the EPA for use as alternative to R22 refrigerant. Most manufacturers’ warranties on an existing systems will not be affected, depending upon the alternative refrigerant used in place of R22 refrigerant.


5. How can I protect my household budget from the high cost of systems and appliance failures?

Answer: An AHS® Home Warranty Plan can help protect your budget by helping manage the potential costs.


**This article was updated from its original posting on June 10, 2016.**