Have you been limping along with your older R22 air conditioner? Hoping to avoid replacing it during the high season? Especially if you know your unit has a refrigerant leak, you may be trying to decide how long you can get by before you’ll have to invest in a new system. An important factor in making that decision is answering the question: when does R22 become illegal?
When does R22 become illegal in the US: the definitive date
Since you’re reading this article, you probably know that the former industry-standard R22 refrigerant (also known as Freon) is being phased out worldwide due to its harmful effects on the ozone layer. (Read our previous blog about the R22 refrigerant phase out to learn more about that.)
As per the US Environmental Protection Agency, R22 refrigerant will become illegal in the United States on January 1, 2020. After that R22 refrigerant phase out date, R22 refrigerant can no longer be manufactured or imported into the US.
What does the R22 phase out timeline mean for you?
After R22 becomes illegal on January 1, 2020, it will become much more difficult (and expensive) to get R22. As a result, repairing older R22 systems will become very expensive when the repair requires adding refrigerant to the system. Except for some simple electrical issues, many types of emergency repairs do require recharging refrigerant.
If you’ve been getting by with an air conditioner that’s leaking refrigerant by periodically adding more R22 refrigerant (which we DO NOT recommend by the way), that will become cost-prohibitive and now is the time to figure out your plan for replacing the system.
The options for R22 system owners
Here at Arista, we believe in being proactive and being transparent. That’s why we have been talking to our customers about this issue for some time now, so they understand the situation and can plan accordingly.
In general, owners of R22 air conditioners will have 3 choices:
- Do nothing until your system needs an expensive repair.
- Retrofit (or convert) your old R22 equipment to use an existing refrigerant.
- Replace your system proactively.
Get more facts about the 3 options facing owners of R22 air conditioners, and advice about making the right decision for your needs: R22 Refrigerant Phase Out: Do You Need to Replace Your AC?.
Some options won’t work for everyone
However, you should know that all these options are not realistic (or smart) for everyone.
For example, retrofitting is not technically feasible for every system; you’ll need an inspection of your equipment by an expert to determine if it might work for you. And when you have a system with refrigerant leaks to begin with, a trustworthy expert probably would not recommend spending the money to retrofit.
Also, if you are experiencing problems with your system, doing nothing is not really an option, either, since your comfort conditions are probably unacceptable to you.
For the time being, you can still get R22 and fix a broken system, but the skyrocketing cost of the refrigerant as availability decreases will mean a very expensive repair. And will only get more expensive the closer we get to the date of January 1, 2020 when R22 becomes illegal to manufacture or import in the US. Is it worthwhile to pour so much into a system in poor condition that must be replaced soon? That’s the choice you’ll need to make.
Get more guidelines for making a repair or replace decision from this helpful resource: Repair or Replace? A guide to making an informed choice when your HVAC system is down.
System replacement is a big deal
The last option, and probably what you are hoping to put off, is a system replacement.
Especially for a large commercial customer, it’s a huge expense (not to mention business inconvenience) to replace an extensive system or many multiple units.
However, there is a way to reduce that cost if you replace your AC this year. Did you know there is a new tax rule that lets you deduct the ENTIRE COST of HVAC equipment AND installation? That can save you a bundle. Watch this video to learn more:
The cost of system replacement is bad enough when you know it’s coming, but having to do so with no warning is much worse. Even homeowners do not want an issue like this to take them by surprise and end up having to be without air conditioning at the wrong time.
The point is, you don’t want to be replacing your system on an emergency basis. Keep reading to learn why it’s better to be proactive if you can.
Why avoid an emergency air conditioner replacement?
You may have to go quite a while without air conditioning if you wait too long to replace your system.
You probably already know that replacing an AC system in the summer will take longer than doing it during the off-season, simply because demand is greater and all available resources are busy on other jobs. As we near the date of January 1, 2020 when R22 becomes illegal, the demand for R22 system replacements is going to skyrocket. If your system finally breaks down this summer (or later), your business or your family might face a considerable wait for a new air conditioning system.
If your business has multiple systems to replace, you can come up with a plan to replace them over time and spread out the expense.
Your HVAC company should be able to help you prioritize which systems to replace first, and help you develop a strategy that works for your budget while still getting ahead of the R22 phase out timeline.
Consider yourself fortunate that you know what’s coming and have time to plan. Many people will be taken by surprise!
At Arista, we understand that the R22 refrigerant phase out is going to cause a lot of headaches and unexpected expense for system owners, especially businesses. Feel free to reach out to us any any time for advice. We’re here to help.