Good-bye R-22 🙁
Refrigerant 22, commonly known as R-22 has been the standard refrigerant for residential and commercial air conditioning for many decades, but now it has been outlawed and will go away in 2015. R-22 was the refrigerant of choice when I broke into the HVAC industry in the 70s, and it even became the refrigerant of choice for commercial refrigeration application when Refrigerant-12 was outlawed due to its high HCFC content. But alas, R-22 does contain a few HCFCs which affect the ozone layer, and it too will soon be outlawed–starting in 2015. This law will not be just a further cut in the production of R-22 like we saw last year, and it will not just stop the manufacture of new R-22 containing equipment. The 2015 rule even prohibits HVAC companies from recharging or topping off R-22 systems that are slightly low on charge. This means that if you need to recharge your home or business air conditioner after Jan 2015, it will necessary to remove all the refrigerant from the unit and completely retrofit the system with a new and “legal” refrigerant. Fortunately, there are some “drop-in” replacement refrigerants, like R-407, but it will still cost much more than just adding a couple of pounds of R-22 to a system that is slightly low. This rule does not start until 2015, so the consumer has some lead time, but when the time arrives, you will be paying much, much more when your air conditioner is a little low on refrigerant. In the meantime, if you are buying a home or renting an office that has an existing air conditioner, you should take this into account when you sign the lease: request a provision in your lease that the landlord cover government-mandated changes in building codes. If you are buying, you have a talking point to get a price concession. If you have questions about this new regulation, please call Air Control Heating and Electric, Inc’s office at (509) 924-0018.