What is R22 Refrigerant?
R22 refrigerant (also known as R22 Freon or HCFC-22 Freon) was, at one time, the most commonly used refrigerant in air conditioners. It worked well, however, as research was conducted on the chemical, it became apparent the refrigerant had harmful effects on the ozone layer. As climate change became an increasing concern, manufacturers and lawmakers found a need to switch to a more environmentally safe product.
On January 1st, 2010, the use of R22 was prohibited in AC units by the EPA. This was replaced by the more environmentally-friendly R410a and other refrigerant blends.
Although this change is hoped to have positive impacts on polar bears and climate change, the transition has affected owners of older AC units which still use R22.
Why Should You Care?
After the use of R22 was banned in new units and installations, its production substantially dropped off globally, which dramatically increased the cost of the product. If you are buying a home, it’s important to know which type of refrigerant is used by the AC in the home. Why? If the AC uses R22 refrigerant and the refrigerant leaks, it may be expensive or impossible to recharge the system. Knowing the type of refrigerant ahead of time can save you costly repairs or replacements in the future.
What Should you Do?
If you purchase a home which has an air conditioner that uses R22, hire an HVAC contractor to do a tune-up on your system and make sure your system doesn't have any small leaks. If there are leaks, have them fixed. This will help to reduce future costs and will help to prolong the life of your system. You can tell which type of refrigerant your unit uses by looking at the label on the outside compressor. It should read R410A for the newer refrigerant. R22 will be identified as HCFC-22. The picture below is an example of what the labels may look like.
Are There Benefits to Replacing the Unit?
There are definite benefits of replacing that old AC unit with a newer unit that uses R410A. Some of these benefits include:
1. A newer unit which utilizes newer technology will make any repairs easier and more affordable.
2. By effectively retaining and releasing heat, R410A is more efficient, making it more cost-effective to operate, saving you money over the long term.
3. For the environmentally conscious, R410A is more environmentally friendly.
During the home inspection process, Onega Inspection Services, LLC always visually inspects and operates AC units when outside temperatures are above 65 degrees. Each of our reports include specific details, such as the type of coolant used in the AC unit of a home so that you aren't caught unaware by unexpected future maintenance costs.