R22: What Does This Mean For Your Old Air Conditioner?

Homeowners with older air conditioners may soon be facing a difficult choice: replace their cooling systems or continue to pursue increasingly costly and hard-to-find R22 refrigerant when their ACs need a tune-up. Standards for types of refrigerants used in air conditioning system maintenance are changing, and this means that this most common and least expensive refrigerant will soon be phased out. When the phase-out is complete in 2020, R22 refrigerant will no longer be available.

R22 refrigerant, sometimes known as R22 Freon or HCFC-22 Freon, is an environmental danger because it contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer. The U.S. government has placed restrictions on R22 and has issued the requirement that R22 refrigerant must be eliminated from use in cooling systems by the year 2020. At this point, R22 will no longer be manufactured and cannot be used as a refrigerant in new air conditioning systems. R22 is being replaced by R-410A, a safer material which is the current, compliant standard refrigerant in air conditioning equipment.

The refrigerant change means several things for homeowners with older ACs:

  1. R22 refrigerant may still be used, but it will ONLY be available through after-market sales when it is recovered from old systems that have been salvaged.
  2. Prices for R22 refrigerant have been rising and are expected to continue to rise. 
  3. The availability of R22 will be limited because it cannot be purchased new. If you need a recharge of R22 in the future, there is no guarantee that it will be available.
  4. A complete A/C system replacement may be the most cost-effective solution.