Phasing Out HCFC Refrigerants
'Freon,' our cool friend is leaving us. Freon™ (also known as hydrochlorofluorocarbons, HCFS and R-22) is a refrigerant often used in air-conditioning equipment. However, chemicals within freon deplete the Earth's protective ozone layer contributing to many health ailments including skin cancer and cataracts plus the geological effects of climate change.
To protect our planet's ozone layer, the United States government (in conjunction with a global effort) is phasing out R-22, along with other environmentally-harmful chemicals. Consequently, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has banned the manufacture of new systems containing or requiring R-22.
Key Phase Out Dates
- January 1, 2010 – Ban on production, import and use of R-22 and HCFC-142b, (except for continuing service needs of existing equipment
- January 1, 2015 – Ban on production, import and use of all HCFC (except for continuing servicing needs of refrigeration equipment)
- January 1, 2020 – Ban on remaining production and import of R-22 and HCFC-12b. After 2020, the servicing of systems with R-22 will rely on recycled or stockpiled quantities.
- January 1, 2030 – Ban on remaining production and import of all HCFCs.
How This Policy Affects Homeowners
Don't panic, you have time to address this. The government has allowed a lengthy phaseout period to replace your R-22 use air-conditioning equipment. Just do it when the need arises, for instance, when the unit becomes old, inefficient or ineffective. Homeowners should consider several factors relating to this government policy. When servicing or replacing home HVAC units, homeowners must be mindful of the refrigerant used.
View EPA flyer for information to upgrade your home air-conditioning system
The most common alternative to R-22 is R-410A. This alternative does not deplete the ozone and is manufactured and sold under various names including GENTRON AZ-20®, SUVA® 410A, AND PURON®.
As a reminder, you are not required to stop using R-22 air-conditioners, nor replace existing equipment. The production (not use) of R-22 is being phased out. However, as the remaining R-22 quantities become scarce the price may increase and the turnaround time required to service your R-22 unit may lengthen due to the principles of supply and demand.
For more information visit EPA's website at https://www.epa.gov/ozone-layer-protection
Are you an HVAC professional in need of information for upgrading client air-conditioning systems?
View this flyer for information for HVAC technicians