Learn what to do if your air conditioner uses R-22.
You probably already know that all air conditioners use some kind of special coolant liquid to help maximize their ability to create cooled air. But do you know what kind of coolant is in your air conditioner? If it is R-22 coolant, you may have some tough decisions in your future.
What is R-22 Coolant?
R-22, aka HCFC-22, is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon that was the coolant of choice for all kinds of cooling equipment for the past 40 years. However, in recent decades awareness has grown that hydrochlorofluorocarbons like R-22 are damaging to the ozone layer and to the planet. In an effort to protect the environment, industrialized nations have banded together in a promise to reduce use of ozone-depleting chemicals. As part of this promise, consumption of R-22 coolant is to be reduced by 90 percent as of January 1, 2015, and phased out completely by 2020.
Where Is R-22 Found?
In 2010, the US stopped manufacturing or importing air conditioners using R-22 coolant. So if your air conditioner was made in 2010 or earlier, it is highly likely it contains R-22.
Why Should You Care If Your Unit Uses R-22?
For air conditioning systems that are in good working condition, R-22 is not really a problem—yet. The difficulty will arise if your air conditioner coils develop a leak. If this happens, your unit will be releasing a chemical that is harmful to the environment. Plus, your air conditioner will not work properly until you get it recharged with more coolant. Because R-22 is being phased out soon, supplies are dwindling and the cost per pound of R-22 is skyrocketing. So in other words you should care if your unit uses R-22 because this situation poses a threat to the “green” of the planet and the “green” in your wallet.
What Alternatives Do You Have?
If your air conditioner uses R-22 and has been leaking, you have two alternatives to shelling out big bucks for more harmful R-22.
The first option is to retrofit your existing unit to take a different coolant such as R-407C. This option may require significant changes to system components. Before you move forward with this option, you will want to make sure you are going to get enough service life from your unit to make the retrofit worthwhile. Most air conditioners start to go downhill after 10 years, so if your ac unit is near this age you will want to consider option #2.
The second option is to replace your air conditioner completely. This can bring many benefits besides the use of a more eco-friendly coolant. A new air conditioner may also have significant energy efficiency improvements compared to your old unit. If you are in the market for a new air conditioner, please contact Econo West Heating Air & Plumbing to learn about the many quality options we sell and install.