R-22, or Freon as it is more commonly known, is a common refrigerant and propellant which absorbs heat and transfers it outside of the home or refrigeration unit. Freon was originally utilized by DuPont scientists in 1928 as one of the first refrigerants, along with HCFC, to be non-combustible and non-toxic and available for commercial use. It revolutionized residential life forever and has provided us with comforts, including refrigerated and frozen foods and air conditioning – comforts that we may take for granted. Unfortunately, though R-22 was touted as a safe refrigerant, studies have concluded that the use of Freon is contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer, causing a mass phase-out of the chemical to take place in Europe and North America.
What the R-22 Phase-Out Means for Us
Ever since it had been discovered as a greenhouse gas, the U.S. Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer laid down the groundwork for a complete phase-out of this hydrochlorofluorocarbon by 2020, a date which is nearly upon us. Unfortunately, AC and commercial refrigeration units which use R-22 have been produced up until 2010 (just under 10 years ago), and are still releasing this chemical into the air.
Replacing this refrigerant is another issue due to the sudden cap on R-22 production. If a unit uses R-22 and needs a refill, the prices of the fluid have increased by over 500 percent since 2003, so it’s an expensive way to harm our environment. There are R-22 “drop-in” refrigerants that can be used in place of R-22; however, they are only recommended as a temporary “quick-fix” because they do not work as well as the original, causing unit efficiency and reliability to eventually diminish.
Out With the Old, In With the R-410A
In newer air conditioning units, a new refrigerant, R-410A, is used. This refrigerant’s main active component is fluorine instead of chlorine, which means it has no effect on the ozone layer. R-410A also has relative price stability and availability, making it the overall better option for cooling our homes. It has become the standard refrigerant in residential AC units for a good reason.
If your unit was manufactured or installed before 2010, it likely uses R-22; if the unit is malfunctioning and needs to be refilled, it is recommended that you purchase a new unit entirely. At Lazer Home Services, we provide the best AC replacement and repair services in Iowa. If you are interested in replacing your old, R-22-fueled unit, contact us today!