Your air conditioner is buzzing away, happily doing its job year after year with no problems.  Despite blowing dirt and fierce heat, it never complains, it never quits and it never gets tired.  But an air conditioner only has a short life in the grand scheme of things, and when yours is running on R-22 refrigerant, hearing that its lifeblood is being phased out can be frightening news.

Fear not, fellow air conditioner lover!  The R-22 phase out isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds.  We’ll walk you through it and explain exactly what it means to you and what you’ll need to do to keep up with the changes.

What is R-22 and Why is it Being Phased Out?

R-22 is a type of refrigerant that was once used in air conditioners, refrigerators and anything that kept things cool.  Unfortunately, it was discovered that this and other hydrochlorofluorocarbons were dangerous for the ozone layer.  So, in 1987, the international community decided they should be phased out of use and production completely.  Since the parties involved realized that it wouldn’t be realistic to suddenly stop using this chemical, they developed a long-term plan to stop production.

In 1996, a schedule was set for this phase out.  No new R-22 systems, including air conditioners, would be constructed in the United States after 2010.  By 2020, R-22 will no longer be in production at all.  Between now and 2020, less and less R-22 will be created and sold, driving prices up and making it more expensive to service your old unit.

What Options Do I Have?

Just because there’s a phase out on the horizon doesn’t mean that you don’t have options.  In fact, you have several options when it comes to managing your air conditioning needs between now and 2020.  Weigh these choices carefully before the time comes to make a major repair to your old, faithful air conditioner:

Maintaining Your Old System.  Your most cost-effective option for now is to take extra good care of your current air conditioner.  Check and change your filters often, keep your evaporator coil and condensation lines clean and wash your condensing unit several times a year, especially right after a dust storm.  By doing as much as you can to properly care for your air conditioner, you’ll get the most mileage out of it before it eventually has to be sent to the big scrapyard in the sky.

Upgrade Your Coolant.  When your unit needs a check-up, you’ll have the option to replace your R-22 refrigerant with something more environmentally friendly.  Although you won’t be able to use the R-410A refrigerant in a newer air conditioner, you will be able to upgrade to a coolant that you can buy into the distant future (provided your unit lives that long).  The biggest problem with going this way is that your system wasn’t really designed with these coolants in mind, and won’t run nearly as efficiently with R-22.

Replace Your System.  Although it’s the most expensive option by far, replacing your R-22 system with an R-410A system now will save you a bundle in the long run.  Not only will a new system be more energy efficient, you’ll spare yourself many years of skyrocketing R-22 costs and repairs on a rapidly aging system that will give up sooner rather than later.  You may also have a number of rebates available to save you even more on a new, energy efficient air conditioner.

If you need help deciding which option is best for your older air conditioner, give us a call at Precision Air.  We’ll be happy to examine your system, give it a complete tune-up, and let you know if it’s time for a replacement.  We’re here 24 hours a day, seven days a week to schedule your air conditioning appointment.