Was your air conditioner or heat pump manufactured prior to January 1, 2010? This is the point at which Freon was no longer permitted as a refrigerant in newly manufactured HVAC equipment. The change is part of a comprehensive approach to eliminating R-22 from use in appliances and systems due to its ozone-depleting qualities. While this is much better for the environment, it can create some issues for you.
How the Phase-Out Impacts Homeowners
Those whose systems rely on Freon must face the fact that supplies of new R-22 are limited, and the amounts permitted for servicing existing equipment are strictly regulated. According to the EPA, the Montreal Protocol, a treaty directing the stages of the phase-out, provides for the consumption of HCFCs in the U.S. to be less than 99.5 percent of the country’s baseline by 2020. Currently, consumption is 75 percent below the U.S. baseline.
As supplies become scarce, prices will be affected. Servicing your existing equipment will be affected if you experience a refrigerant leak. Rather than continuing to use Freon, you may be faced with the need to use an R-22 replacement.
Addressing the Issue in Your System
If your equipment operates correctly, you don’t need to worry immediately about the phase-out. A good regimen of HVAC maintenance is ideal for ensuring that your equipment continues to work according to manufacturer specifications. This will also make it possible to identify refrigerant leaks more quickly if they occur.
If you have discovered that you have a lack of refrigerant, you may have a couple of options. In some cases, an R-22 replacement can be used in your existing lines. The old material must be purged from the system. A technician certified by the EPA should handle the process because of the requirements related to handling and recapturing used R-22.
In some cases, an R-22 retrofit requires that new lines be installed. Puron, one of the main alternatives to R-22, requires higher pressures and appropriate lines. Your HVAC professional must make the determination based on the system in your home.
Upgrading Your Equipment
If your equipment is at least 10 years old, a new system can provide you with marked improvement in your energy usage. There are federal tax incentives for upgrading to eligible equipment that provides greater efficiency, making it possible to keep your package costs down. Most AC units and heat pumps provide approximately 14 years of service, but an early upgrade may pay for itself in just a couple of years. Additionally, you will be making your home more environmentally friendly.
You can contact Accurate Comfort Services, Inc., to discuss the options or obtain an estimate for a retrofit or upgrade. You can also set up a preventive maintenance plan to ensure that your equipment is optimized and that your refrigerant levels are appropriate. We can help you make the decision to schedule an R-22 retrofit or replace your system when the time comes.