On January 1, 2010, manufacturers stopped using R-22 in new HVAC equipment. This is part of a gradual phase-out that’s overseen by the EPA. If you live in Gurnee, IL, and your air conditioner runs on R-22, here’s what you need to know.

What is R-22?

From the 1950s through 2010, R-22 was the most common refrigerant in residential HVAC systems. This gas is also called HCFC-22 because it’s a hydrochlorofluorocarbon. Eventually, scientists realized that these chemicals damage the atmosphere’s protective ozone layer. In the 1990s, several nations, including the United States, developed a collaborative plan for reducing their use of ozone-depleting substances, including HCFC-22.

What the R-22 Phase-out Means for Homeowners

We’re currently in the second part of the R-22 phase-out created through the Montreal Protocol. Until 2015, manufacturers were allowed to make some old-style HVAC components to keep existing systems running, but that’s no longer the case. Today, companies can only manufacture and import a limited amount of R-22 to service equipment installed before 2010, but even that window is closing.

On January 1, 2020, a complete ban on the manufacture and importation of R-22 will go into effect. At that point, you must rely on stockpiles of reclaimed refrigerant. As the inventory declines, prices are expected to increase. Unfortunately, existing systems aren’t compatible with alternative refrigerants, so there’s no way to convert them. The best option is to focus on maintenance.

Maintaining R-22 Equipment During the Phase-out

To keep your existing cooling equipment running optimally, schedule AC tuneups so that your technician can catch leaks before they require costly air conditioning repairs. While the new R-410A refrigerant doesn’t damage the ozone layer, it is a powerful greenhouse gas, so maintaining your equipment is still important for the environment.

If you aren’t sure whether your system uses the new or old refrigerant, call Herchenbach Mechanical at (847) 260-9335. We’ll be happy to schedule an air conditioning service visit, or to help you over the phone.

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