A primary coolant in air conditioning units for years, R-22 has a phase-out target date of 2020 in North America and European countries. However, R-22 refrigerant remains in use in many functioning units today. At Duggan’s One Hour, we want to let you, the consumer, know just what is in store regarding the use of R-22 in air conditioning over the next few years.
Chlorodifluoromethane, otherwise known as HCFC-22 or R-22, is a gas that contains hydrogen (H), carbon (C), chlorine (CL), and fluorine (F). It is not a blend and has functioned as a superior refrigerant in part because it is low in toxicity and has no flame propagation. The downside, and the reason for the phase-out, is that it is capable of contributing significantly to the depletion of the ozone layer, and is considered a gas of high global warming potential.
What Is Happening and What Is Next
There are alternatives to R-22, many of them already in use in new equipment. Sometimes older equipment may be retrofitted to incorporate one of the alternatives to R-22 refrigerant, but not always. A solution for non-retrofittable units has been to ensure the availability of R-22 for use in repairs for the lifetime of the older equipment. While production of R-22 is capped, efforts are in place to recover and recycle existing stores of the refrigerant from retired units.
Here is an abbreviated timeline for the R-22 phase-out:
- 1987: Montreal Protocol sets reduction rates for HCFCs and other ozone depleting gases.
- 1992: Intentional venting of HCFCs becomes illegal.
- 2007: HCFC production reduced 65%-75% from 1989 levels.
- 2010: R-22 banned in new equipment (OEM level).
- 2020: Total ban on R-22 production.
All new air conditioners produced in the United States will be required to use an R-22 refrigerant alternative, and have a minimum SEER rating of 13. At Duggan’s One Hour, we understand the ins and outs of Augusta HVAC repair. Whether your unit is old or new, for maintenance and repair call us at 706-733-8703.