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What Is R22 And How Does The Ban Affect You

Homeowners across the US are facing a difficult choice: replace their older AC systems or struggle with increasingly expensive repairs due to the phase-out of R22.

What is R22?

R22, also known as Freon or HCFC-22, is (or was) a type of gas used in cooling equipment-like
your home’s air conditioner. As of 2010, R22 is now a banned substance in the United States.

R22 is part of the hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFCs) family. HCFCs, CFCs, and halons were widely
used in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, aerosols and solvents, and even fire
extinguishers until recently.

If R22 and other related synthetic chemicals are (or were) commonplace, why are they banned?

To answer that, we’ll need to go back in time to elementary science class…

Why is R22 Banned?

Raise your hand if you remember what the ozone layer is.

The ozone layer is a thin segment of the earth’s atmosphere that protects us from the sun’s
damaging ultraviolet radiation (think protection from skin cancer, cataracts, and crop failure).
Currently, there is a thinning of the ozone layer that scientists attribute to the use of certain
synthetic chemicals, better known as “greenhouse gases.”

R22 and other HCFCs have been identified as contributors to climate change and damage the
ozone layer. In an effort to reduce the damage, the EPA launched global initiatives to phase out
the use of these chemicals.

In 2010, the EPA placed a ban on both production and import of R-22. While the process has
been lengthy, the final phase of the plan was enacted in 2020 when the EPA announced that
R22 could only be accessed via recycled materials or reserve stocks.

This means that homeowners whose central AC depends on R22 will need to consider replacing
their old AC or face climbing repair and maintenance costs.

How To Tell If Your System Uses R22

If your system was installed prior to 2010, there is a higher likelihood that it uses R22.

Not sure what type of refrigerant your AC uses? Here’s how to tell:

  • The type of refrigerant your AC system uses should be referenced in the owner’s manual.
  • Can’t find the owner’s manual? Your system’s data plate (located on the outside of the unit) should also tell you the
    refrigerant type.
  • If the manual or data plate reference “R-22” or “HCFC-22” then you have an outdated system that will soon become difficult, or
    nearly impossible, to maintain and service.

If you have trouble determining what your system specifications are, simply give the Legacy
team a call or take a photo of your system’s data plate and email it to:

What If Your System Uses R22?

While you’re not forced to upgrade an outdated system right now, as the phase-out rolls
forward, it will become more costly and more difficult to service and maintain your cooling
system. For the time being, you should continue to perform regular service and maintenance.

If your R22-reliant system is running properly, it’s rare that it should need a freon refill unless
there is a leak or other problem. Again, as R22 stocks dwindle, a leak could mean that
replacement is the more economical choice.

Watch out for signs of leaks:

  • Ice on the refrigerant lines of your unit
  • Bubbling or hissing sounds
  • Your system is running, but your home is not cooling
  • Warm air coming out of the vents

And before you ask, no, you cannot retrofit an R22-dependent system with another refrigerant.
AC systems are designed to work with specific refrigerants in order to function properly.

Be sure you’re working with trained technicians to service your current system. Technicians
must have special licensing to service R22 equipment. They’ll be able to take care of the system
you have now and help walk you through upgrades and replacement when you’re ready.

Why Upgrade Now?

Fortunately, AC units have a long lifespan and should last 10 to 15 years if properly maintained.
If your home’s AC is older than 2010, it’s likely time to consider replacement.

Currently, Legacy customers replacing outdated AC units can receive:

Get scheduled online for a free in-home estimate and our
technicians will walk you through the replacement process.

The Bottom Line

If we lost you at “elementary science class,” let us summarize everything for you:

  • R22 is a class of synthetic chemical refrigerant previously used in AC systems
  • R22 is banned due to detrimental environmental impact
  • The EPA began a phase-out program announcing that AC systems manufactured in the US after 2010 will not contain this chemical and as of 2020, R22 is not produced or used in the US
  • If you have a home that has a system using R22 you may encounter increased expense and difficulty maintaining your system
  • An upgrade should be part of your home maintenance planning and doing so sooner than later can save you time and expense
  • Legacy customers can save thousands by replacing their system now.

If you want to avoid costly repair bills or emergency replacement in the future, smart shopping and planning ahead will help ensure a smooth transition to an upgraded system.

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