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Freon and R-22

For most homeowners, the knowledge of FreonTM begins and ends with it being the substance that is used in an A/C unit to make air cold. But the how or why of Freon use is rarely discussed beyond this. So, what makes Freon so special, and why is it the liquid of choice for cooling? And what is Freon, really?

Freon and R-22

Freon is more than a name for the liquid or gas cooling substance. In fact, it’s a trademarked brand name for a range of chemical solutions known as refrigerants. Freon refrigerants come in a variety of types, encompassing both residential and commercial cooling uses, and are comprised of chemicals that are either hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) or hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). Each Freon refrigerant is distinguished by a unique “R” code, as evidenced in the most prominent Freon refrigerant, R-22. The numbers at the end of the “R” code correlate to the atoms within the chemical compounds, which, with the correct equation, will tell the exact amount of fluorine, hydrogen, carbon, and chlorine atoms.

R-22, also known as Freon 22, is the most popular HCFC refrigerant variant due to its widespread use for reliable medium- to low-temperature commercial refrigeration and for residential air conditioning. However, while it is particularly effective at cooling, R-22 is also an atmospherically damaging greenhouse gas. Thus, to curb the widespread use of R-22 refrigerant from continuing to damage the ozone layer of the earth, a United Nations treaty was finalized in 1988 to call for the staggered phase-out of R-22. Known as the Montreal Protocol, it was the first UN treaty ratified by all 197 nations and has been steadily cutting down the use of R-22 here in the United States, with all-new manufacture of R-22 being eliminated at the beginning of this past year.

Cooling in a Post-R-22 World

Of course, with R-22 being phased out, many systems are adopting other Freon refrigerants to provide cooling. The majority of replacement Freon solutions are HFCs, as these are non-ozone depleting, and retain the non-flammable properties of R-22. New A/C systems are being built to run off of these HFC Freon solutions, whereas homeowners and business-owners with older A/C units are able to retrofit their systems to use the newer HFC solutions, such as as Freon™ NU-22B™ and Freon™ MO99™. By adopting these newer solutions, homeowners and business owners will be able to get ahead of the curve of rising R-22 prices, as the left-over supply begins to be used up for good.

Freon, and its proper routing through the unit, is just one part to keep in mind for a well-tuned, consistently running A/C. And while R-22 has been slated to be completely phased out by 2030, homeowners don’t need to panic about their cooling systems just yet. The supply of R-22 won’t run out overnight, and though prices for the solution will rise — and could affect future repair costs for older units — it’s just as important to have regular maintenance to ensure the rest of a unit is running properly.

For homeowners or business-owners interested in retrofitting their existing equipment, interested in installing a new system, or just interested in scheduling annual maintenance, reach out to the licensed professionals at Duane Blanton Family Home Services. The knowledge experts at Duane Blanton bring with them over 30 years of experience to answer any question that may come up, and to help repair any potential issue. Give the technicians at Duane Blanton Family Home Services a call today, at (815) 781-2567, or reach out via their convenient online scheduling portal.

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