If your air conditioner is over 10 years old, it probably uses R22 refrigerant. This refrigerant, commonly known as Freon, was first introduced in the 1950s and quickly became the standard refrigerant used in the HVAC industry. It was not until a few decades later that it was identified as one of the main contributors to ozone depletion.
Production and import of R22 will stop by 2020
In 1987, the U.S. and other countries signed the Montreal Protocol, which initiated a phase-out of R22 and other ozone-depleting substances. In early 2010, the production and import of R22 were restricted, although servicing existing equipment is still allowed if there is a supply of R22 available.
The aim is to halt all production and import of R22 by 2020, after which only recycled R22 refrigerant will be allowed for the repair of existing air conditioners. This means that the cost of servicing these AC units has been rising over the past few years and will continue to do so as R22 becomes more and more difficult to find.
R22 replacement options
So, what are your R22 replacement options? Well, now you have a choice to make; should you continue to nurse your aging unit along, try to retrofit it with an R22 compressor replacement, or install a whole new unit?
This is not an easy decision to make. You need to take your time and consider the various factors involved. Is your unit functioning efficiently or is it already showing signs of general wear and tear? Is it worth attempting a retrofit, (which is, unfortunately, not possible on all makes of AC units) only to have the unit die from some other major malfunction?
A new unit will be cheaper to run and service, saving you money in the long run, but can you afford the upfront cost? The answers ultimately depend on the current condition of both your unit and your finances, but before you leap to a decision, you should gather as much relevant information as possible.
Estimate life expectancy of your AC unit
The first thing to do is have your unit assessed by a reliable, trustworthy HVAC repair and maintenance company, such as ourselves, Chills Air Conditioning. A good AC technician will be able to assess the current state of your AC and give you an estimate of its remaining useful life expectancy. They will also be able to tell you if an R22 AC compressor replacement retrofit on your model is actually possible or not.
Beware though, some unscrupulous vendors will try to pressure customers into forking out for a new unit whether or not it is actually necessary. If you find yourself being bombarded by a stream of technical jargon which ends with a request for a downpayment on a new unit, get a second opinion. Just be careful that you don’t fall for the other extreme — a maintenance man who will cheerfully conduct patch jobs on a unit that is on the way out.
Find a company with a solid reputation for putting the needs of the customer first, again, such as ourselves, Chills Air Conditioning, and you will be guaranteed:
- Professional, qualified technicians
- An accurate assessment of the condition and life expectancy of your unit
- Realistic advice on if your unit can be retrofitted, and if it is worth doing
- Recommendations on which new model AC will best fit your needs and budget
And remember, Jan 1st, 2020 might seem a long way off but in reality, it is less than 12 months away, so the sooner you bite the bullet and make a decision the better. This means you can get the work done before the summer, peak season for the HVAC industry. Reach out to Chills Air Conditioning for more information.