R22 Phaseout

R-22 Phaseout

One of the United States Environmental Protection Agency responsibilities is to govern air quality. The goal is to preserve high quality, healthy air.

This agency sets standards and regulations which protect us from harmful substances emitted into the air we breathe. The HVAC community is abuzz with the R-22 Phaseout just around the corner. Following are some points you will find enlightening.

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons are combinations of carbon, hydrogen, hydrocarbon, chlorine and fluorine (HCFC) https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/hydrochlorofluorocarbon.

During the 1980’s, these were developed to replace the even more ozone harmful chlorofluorocarbons.

These HCFC’s are usually liquid or gas compounds which evaporate quickly. Due to their chemical makeup, they are also considered controlled substances. Consequently, they are heavily regulated by the EPA.

The main problem with HCFC is that when the chlorine atom contacts an ozone molecule, it breaks apart and destroys the ozone molecule.

It does the same for other successive ozone molecules. Estimates are that a single chlorine atom can destroy up to 100,000 ozone molecules.

Class I and Class II

The R-22 Phaseout focus addresses ozone depletion and its two main culprits. CFC’s and HCFC’s are divided into Class I and Class II chemical substances respectively. Class I is the most harmful. These substances deplete the ozone layer much quicker. CFC’s are Class I.

They have already been removed by the EPA. Production and importation of this substance are prohibited. This ban began January 1, 1994.

Class II HCFC’s differ from Class I chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) in that they contain one or more hydrogen atoms. They are less harmful to the ozone than CFC’s, but they are still harmful.

R-22 is a Class II controlled substance or ozone depletion substance (ODS). This is why R-22 has been on a gradual phase out since 2013. It is scheduled to completely phase out by 2020 https://www.epa.gov/ods-phaseout .

Increased Consumer Costs

Since the implementation of this gradual phase out began, R-22 refrigerant prices have steadily risen. This is the logical result of diminishing supply and increasing demand.

Prices soar when production ends, but demand and use continue. Customers who have had AC repair work done over the last two years can attest to the price hike.

Consumer costs do not end with increased R-22 prices. Every HVAC system installed, going all the way back to around the mid 1980’s, uses R-22. What do the owners of these systems do in 2020 when new R-22 is no longer available?

Using Recycled R-22

The Clean Air Act prohibits refrigerant from being released into the air. The R22 in existing units must be captured and recycled. It must be renewed to the same level it was when it was first put into the unit http://www.phaseoutfacts.org/common+recovery+methods+explained.aspx.

After January 2020, the R-22 that is currently available can still be recycled and used in the old systems. Of course, as the older systems wear out, R-22 use will gradually dwindle.

The new, replacement units use only the new EPA-approved refrigerant. The consumer cannot buy a new HVAC system and use R-22 in it after 2020.

Two Choices

Choice 1: For now, stick with what you have. Keep the system maintained and serviced. Otherwise, hope your system does not need a new R-22 refrigerant refill service after January of 2020. Only recycled will be available.

Start budgeting for the inevitable. Start an AC repair/replace savings plan. You will have to repair or replace your current system sooner or later.

Be proactive and not reactive. New R22 is still available until 2020. The next best choice is to have your system checked for leaks. If your system is 10 years old or older, you may have leaks.

Old, leaky AC units lose refrigerant continually. The notion that AC units lose refrigerant through regular use is false. The loss of refrigerant is due to tiny leaks which cannot be seen with an untrained eye.

If your system blows air that is just not as cool as it used to be, you should have it checked for leaks. Did you know that Freon is a poisonous, toxic substance?

As such, any that escapes from leaks or during servicing actually harms the environment and depletes the ozone. It can result in death if directly inhaled https://www.easyac.net/air-conditioning-news/why-ac-refrigerant-leaks-are-dangerous-and-should-be-prevented.html.

Leave leak repairs to the professionals who are trained to handle them. They are expert at finding those champagne leaks. Ask us about champagne leaks.

Seals, valves, driers, sight glasses and receiver level gauges all may need replacing. These replacement parts will differ depending upon your particular system setup and its age.

Repairing your system is cheaper than a system replacement. On the other hand, if your system is older, a leak check and repair may not be your best, most practical solution. Repairing a dinosaur still leaves you with a dinosaur.

Choice 2:

Invest in a new system now before the rush hits. Prices are sure to climb as customers face the inevitable, and future demand skyrockets.

Replacement estimates range depending upon a number of variables. Climate, number of square feet cooled, location of the unit and duct work condition all contribute to the final replacement estimate.

Although these new systems cost more on the front end, they offset much of the initial cost through energy savings over time. The EPA issues what they call an Energy Star label for the most energy efficient HVAC units.

They assign these energy saving units SEER ratings. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. SEER measures the amount of heat removed per unit of energy used by the AC system.

Such units save the buyer up to 40% on energy costs annually. That 40% savings can certainly lessen the sting of the initial cash outlay for the new unit.

R-22 Replacement Refrigerant

With all this talk about replacing R-22, you have to be wondering about the replacement. R-22 has been in use for decades; what could possibly replace it, right? Hydrofluorocarbons and blends of them are the answers.

What is the difference between HFC’s and the long used HCFC’s? HFC’s do not contain the ozone killing chlorine atoms. That is why they do not harm the ozone.

Blends of a hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are the newly approved refrigerants. R-410 A is one such HFC blend. It does not damage the ozone layer https://www.advantageengineering.com/fyi/246/advantageFYI246.php.

It will come to market with different names. Forane 410A, Puron and SUVA 410A are some of the more common brands. Other replacement HFC’s are in development.

Closing Thoughts

Make sure you hire only reputable companies to do your HVAC work. These companies hire and retain Section 608 Certified or EPA Certified technicians to perform your HVAC services.The EPA gives their seal of approval to these techs. They have made the effort to learn the latest, best EPA practices and procedures to complete your AC repair or replacement.

Section 608 trained technicians have trained in how to handle the replacement R-410-A refrigerant. They are also trained in new split system installs. They know the detail of the split system setup.

Split systems are not new.The technology they now come with is. The new units require technologically trained installers.

A split system AC setup is one that has two separate sections. The unit condenser and compressor sit outside the wall of the structure.

The evaporator, sits on the inside wall of the structure. It is a two-part system split or separated by a wall, and that is why it is called a split system.

Split systems are more efficient at handling the higher pressures of the newly adopted R-410 and its blends. Visit us today at https://www.bluonenergy.com/or call Bluon at 855.425.8686 for your HVAC services.