25 Dec

What You Should Know About Replacing R-22 Refrigerant (Freon)

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If you have an older heat pump or air conditioning, you may already know that R-22 refrigerant (also known as Freon) has been discontinued. That means that it is no longer being produced, hard to find, and very expensive. 

If your heat pump or air conditioning is in good shape but needs more refrigerant, there are replacement refrigerants for R-22 available. However, the process is more complicated than adding this new refrigerant to your existing system.  

Why R-22 is no longer used

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began phasing out R-22 back in 2010. The reason is that the refrigerant is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), which damages the ozone layer and impacts the environment. In 2004, R-22 was no longer allowed to be used in new equipment. And as of January 1, 2020, it is banned for service, maintenance, and repair. 

Benefits of replacement refrigerants

If you have a heat pump or AC that uses R-22, the new rules don’t mean you have to automatically replace your system. In fact, in some cases, you can have your unit retrofitted with a replacement refrigerant such as R-421A, R0407C, and others. These refrigerants are non-HFCs, so they’re a more environmentally friendly option for keeping your home comfortable. 

Why replacing R-22 refrigerant isn’t simple

One major difference is that older heat pumps and ACs use mineral oil as the lubricant in the compressor, while newer systems use synthetic oils. Mixing the oils would be like pouring diesel fuel into your gasoline car – it’s not a good idea. If your HVAC professional determines that your system can be retrofitted, the old refrigerant and oil will need to be entirely removed. It’s also very important to mention that replacing your refrigerant is not a DIY job and should only be attempted by a licensed HVAC professional.

Watch out for the warranty

Keep in mind that using any replacement refrigerant will likely void the manufacturer or extended warranty of your heat pump or air conditioning. 

What’s better: retrofit or replacement?

It’s nice to know that you may have the option to update the refrigerant in an old heat pump or air conditioning. However, if your system is near the end of its service life, it might make more financial sense to replace the entire unit instead. 

If you’re interested in learning more about replacement refrigerants available for your old heat pump or air conditioning, talk to Robert B. Payne, Inc. To schedule a consultation with an experienced HVAC technician, call us today at (540) 373-5876.