Vertex Mechanical’s HVAC, Plumbing & Electrical Blog

What the Ban on R-22 Means for YOU

If your air conditioner is more than 7 to 10 years old or you know it uses R-22 refrigerant, you NEED to pay attention! Here’s the scoop: due to environmental concerns, the EPA has banned the production or import of R-22 in favor of 410-A, effective January 1, 2020. If your air conditioner uses R-22, that leaves you with a big problem: pay to replace it — or pay an arm and a leg to keep it running.

This is the number one issue in the air conditioning world right now — and homeowners everywhere need to get educated and make their choice. At Vertex Mechanical, we’re not on one side or another, we support our homeowners.

We know you don’t need a news story, and you don’t need a political/environmental debate. You need to know how to save money and not get BURNED for thousands of dollars.

That’s why we’re breaking down what the R-22 ban means and what you can do about it!

Does Your Air Conditioner Use R-22 or 410-A?

If your air conditioner already uses 410-A, you’re in the clear. Best case scenario.

If you’re not sure what your system uses, just take a look. Most air conditioning units have a sticker on the outdoor unit, showing whether it uses R-22 or 410-A.

AC unit with R-410A refrigerant sticker

Another way to know what type of refrigerant your system uses is based on the age. Almost any new system will use the preferred 410-A — while any system older than 7 to 10 years will be more likely to use R-22. Based on the age, you can likely guess your air conditioner’s refrigerant type.

The last, best bet to find out is to get a professional Vertex Mechanical AC tuneup.

Schedule your tuneup today.

The R-22 Phaseout

According to the EPA, R-22 causes damage to the ozone layer. This is why the EPA has already begun a phaseout of R-22 which will conclude with a complete ban effective the first day of 2020. Instead of the environmentally-unfriendly R-22, new AC systems will use the green alternative 410-A.

While producing and importing R-22 will be illegal, owning, selling, and using the refrigerant will not be. Essentially, although your system will be obsolete — and cost you tons of money to maintain — no one will stop you from using it.

freon air conditioner refill

However, this move makes 410-A the only real choice going forward, which is fine as 410-A does just as good of a job. At this point, it’s a matter of when — not if — you upgrade to a 410-A system.

How R-22 Will Cost You

It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. Currently, the EPA has restricted the amount of R-22 that the manufacturers are allowed to produce. This already has prices through the roof, but once the ban goes into effect, prices will skyrocket yet again. It’s quite simple to see what is happening here. If the price for the freon, which is inside each ac or heat pump system, is very expensive then you will choose to replace your system rather than add refrigerant, and your new unit will be a 410-A unit.

As air conditioning systems age, they can sometimes get a small leak which will allow it to lose refrigerant. During an ac tuneup, we will do an accurate check of the system’s refrigerant levels using an ultra-precise digital gauge.

AC refrigerant level check by experienced HVAC technician

In the past, an air conditioning system leak wasn’t always that big of an issue. However, with the current prices, leaking R-22 feels an awful lot like leaking gold. In another year or so, adding R-22 really won’t be an option.

Alternative Freon

Some contractors might offer you what we call a “Drop In” replacement. Be very careful here. If not installed correctly, it will kill your system. Most “Drop In” replacements require all the current refrigerant to be removed. Then the system needs to be fully flushed and purged, and in some cases, the oil needs to be changed. Fact is, by the time this is all done, you will be spending just as much. Vertex does not recommend a “Drop In” replacement because of its costs to do it correctly, and the simple risks that are associated.

Should You Upgrade to a 410-A System?

The simple answer here is yes. You will need to do it eventually. You just need to prepare yourself that if you have an R-22 system, your next service call may be “the one” that forces your hand into a replacement.

If you can afford it, now is the perfect time to upgrade to an energy-efficient, fully modern 410-A system. You’ll save on your monthly energy bills and you won’t ever find yourself paying hundreds of dollars for the supply and demand of R-22.

However, if you’d rather hold off on the upgrade, you can wait until the moment your system needs maintenance. As a rule, we generally advise against putting ANY EXTRA money into R-22 systems. After all, they will be obsolete sooner or later.

If you want to make sure your R-22 system lasts as long as humanly possible, stay current with your AC tuneups.

Learn more about what we do during a tuneup.

Air Conditioning Installation with Financing

financing for new air conditioner using R-410A refrigerant

Another option is to simply be proactive and start looking now. Springtime is a good time to be in the market. Many manufacturers push good incentives and then you can have time to do proper research into what is best for you, rather than waiting for a failure and having to rush the decision.

Let’s face it. HVAC systems are expensive and very few people get super excited about changing out their air conditioner or heat pump. They would much rather go down to the local car dealer and buy that nice shiny new car for the garage. Fact is we have options to soften that cost with several financing options. We have some options that will allow you to spread out the payments over 8 years to make the impact to your bank account as low as possible.

While a new air conditioner isn’t cheap, it’ll absolutely save you money in the long run — that’s a guarantee. Take advantage of our financing programs.

Explore our financing options.

Whether you want to schedule a tuneup, price a new system, or just get some answers, we’d like to hear from you — contact us today!

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