R-22 refrigerant (aka “Freon”), used as a refrigerant in the AC systems of many homes, businesses, restaurants and stores – especially those built before 2010. This gas compound is being gradually phased out legally by the EPA under the Montreal Protocol. Recent actions by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding hydrochlorofluorocarbon gases (HCFCs) have led to limits in the availability of R-22 (“Freon”) in the months and years following the protocol. As you know, when a product is in low supply, any demand becomes a pressure to the supply. Since there are still many old and fairly-new homes and businesses relying on R-22 for their HVAC systems, costs to provide have risen exponentially year over year.
Why is R-22 Being Phased Out?
Chlorodifluoromethane – the proper chemical name for R-22 or Freon — is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon gas, or “HCFC”. Due to its chemical structure, which contains chlorine, R-22 is considered a greenhouse gas with serious ozone-depleting and environmentally hazardous potential. In 2004, the EPA began enforcing restrictions on the consumption of all hydrochlorofluorocarbons nationwide in an effort to minimize environmental impacts. When those restrictions increased in 2010, the use of R-22 was banned in all new AC systems and its production and import were cut sharply. Now illegal to use in new systems and very difficult to acquire at all, R-22 is an expensive and highly sought product.
Why Should I Concern Myself with R-22 Regulations?
As a result of depleting supply and uncertainty in the market, the cost of R-22 refrigerant doubled again this year after more than doubling in 2012. To put the issue in perspective, the current price of Freon is more than twelve times what it was in 2004, and it is anyone’s guess how high Freon prices will go as supplies of Freon continue to be reduced by the EPA. If your HVAC system for your home or business relies on R-22, costs to repair your system will rise.
If an existing R-22 based air conditioner develops a leak, recharging the system with R-22 is becoming increasingly expensive. As such, when a refrigerant leak situation develops, it may be a better economic choice, in the long run, to replace the entire air conditioning system with a new one that uses the more environmentally friendly and less expensive R-410a refrigerant (aka “Puron”). Although the price of Puron used to be much higher than Freon, they have now switched places economically because Puron prices are dropping as quickly as Freon prices are rising.
Does Your HVAC System Use R-22?
Your system’s label will tell you if your system uses R-22 refrigerant. If your system does require R-22, it is still legal at this time for us to repair your system and charge your refrigerant. However, with the decrease in availability and the limitation of importing Freon, many companies like ours must resort to using recycled R-22 which comes at a high cost for customers. We can consult with you about your system’s readiness for replacement and how that may benefit you financially.
To schedule a system repair or consult about a possible replacement for your system, call the experts at McCullough at (512) 866-9821