The r22 phase out
R-22—otherwise known as Freon—a commonly used HCFC refrigerant gas, is being phased out by the US Environmental Protection Agency at the end of this year. Due to their negative impact on the environment, HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbon) gases are being limited internationally, with production and import of R-22 in the US prohibited after January 1st, 2020, in preparation for a full HCFC ban by 2030. However, since so many air-conditioning and refrigeration units and systems still utilize R-22 to provide cooling, equipment owners will need to prepare for the production and supply drop-off, and the impact this will have on future maintenance. While it may still feel like a ways off, preparation is key, so consider building a plan around one of these options to make sure you’re fully prepared for the R-22 phaseout.
Maintain Your Current Equipment
A common theme for all the options available to equipment owners is determining the health of the unit or system. If the system is in good condition, not too old, and free from any major maintenance issue (such as leaks), it’s entirely possible to keep the old system up and running without significant adjustments. This is likely the cheapest of the options available in the short-term, but it does carry the greatest risk. Call (815) 781-2567 or click to schedule your complete system inspection today.
Due to the gradual rollout of the R-22 phaseout, the supply and production of R-22 has been increasingly limited each year. This means any future maintenance or repairs for an older system will rely on stockpiled or recycled supplies of R-22, which means two things: increased cost, and increased time to repair. In the event of an emergency repair, these two issues are compounded and could result in a noticeable amount of time without necessary refrigeration or air conditioning.
If you’re confident in the health of your system, then consider this option, but don’t get caught sinking more money into an older system when a retrofit or a replacement could end up saving more overtime.
Retrofitting Your System
As the R-22 phaseout has been on the horizon for some time, it has given suppliers and manufacturers the chance to plan ahead by developing alternate refrigerant options, which can be compatible with older systems, and are still readily available. By retrofitting your current system to be compatible with one of these other refrigerants, it can provide a longer buffer period to prepare for the eventuality of a replacement, while easing the transition. Additionally, once retrofitted, the overhead costs to repair the system will be cheaper, rather than relying on the scarcity of R-22.
Notably, however, retrofitting is not a universally applicable solution. Some systems and units are unable to be retrofitted. Systems that can will not always perform at the same level of efficiency as they did before, either, losing some capacity, and creating larger energy costs through increased usage. The final risk to consider when weighing the option to retrofit is the potential to void the warranty on the equipment, as many manufacturers state within their warranties that they will not support the use of alternative refrigerants in systems designed to use R-22.
Replace for the Future
The final option is to simply bite the bullet, and replace all older HVAC or refrigeration systems and units outright, with newer systems that no longer rely on R-22. This option is the most expensive option up front, and the cost is always a realistic factor to consider, but it also an inevitable necessity. Incidentally, committing to a full replacement is not just the best safeguard, but depending on the state of your current system, it could end up saving significantly in the long-run.
The obvious cost-saver is that a new system will eliminate the wait time or sunk cost of an emergency repair reliant on R-22 supplies. This also means that any repairs or maintenance that do come up will likely be completed in less time, and leave you without the hassle of living without the necessary cooling systems for your home or business. On top of repair considerations, newer systems are overall more efficient, and thus, less expensive to operate, on top of the fact that a new replacement will last you longer than the current system or unit that is installed. While a replacement may feel like a hard cost to commit to, the overall investment can be a boon compared to the headache of an emergency breakdown.
No two systems are exactly alike, and circumstances are different for every equipment owner — commercially, residentially, and everywhere in between. However, the reality is that the R-22 phaseout is moving forward, and will be completed sooner rather than later. To make sure you’re not caught off guard, and have the best plan in place that makes sense for your A/C and refrigeration needs, call Duane Blanton Home Services at (815) 781-2567, or reach out online. The professionals at Duane Blanton Home Services will answer any questions you may have, and help you weigh out the most sensible solution.
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