For years, air conditioners ran on a refrigerant known as R-22, or “Freon” as it’s more commonly called. However, many studies throughout the 1970s and 80s found that Freon was in fact a serious polluter to the environment—it was extremely toxic, and when released into the atmosphere it caused serious damage to the ozone layer. As a result, the EPA implemented a ban on the substance which has progressively increased and strengthened.
Fast forward to now and we’re just a few months away from a nearly-full ban on Freon as an air conditioning refrigerant. If you’ve heard about this, then you could be confused and have questions about what it might mean for your air conditioning system. Is your air conditioner officially banned, mandating that you get a new one? Will you be able to get your air conditioner repaired? We’ll take a look at these questions and more to get you the answers you need in this blog.
What Is the 2020 Freon Ban?
So what exactly will happen when 2020 rolls around? To put it simple, on January 1, 2020, R-22 Freon will no longer be allowed to be produced in the United States, and likewise all imports of the substance will cease. Will you notice this change? Probably not. Freon production has already been radically reduced over the last couple of decades, and it’s been a while since air conditioning systems that came pre-charged with the stuff were allowed to be sold. However, these restrictions have led to a pretty large increase in the cost of Freon, and that’s made ownership of these older systems not really all that affordable or practical.
Will I Have to Get a New Air Conditioner?
No. The ban does not require any homeowners who still have a Freon-based air conditioner to replace their system outright. You won’t ever be required to replace your air conditioner through any sort of legislation or government accord. However, because the cost of Freon is so high, and it’s only going to get higher with the implementation of this ban, after a while it’ll become far more practical to simply replace your system outright with one that doesn’t use R-22. This is known as “grandfathering.” Within a decade or so after the ban’s total implementation, the number of Freon-powered air conditioners will be so miniscule, it’ll be negligible.
Can I Keep My Old System & Use a New Refrigerant?
Maybe, but not always. This is referred to as a “drop-in” replacement, whereby your air conditioning technician simply removes the Freon refrigerant and other components that it relies on from your system, replacing them with a modern refrigerant and appropriate parts. However, not all systems can actually do this. Some are proprietary and require specific parts to operate, making a drop-in replacement impossible.
Likewise, because most systems that actually run on Freon are getting up there in age at this point, this may not be the most practical solution in terms of financial considerations. The best way to ensure maximum energy efficiency and performance is to replace your system outright. It may be more expensive, but the savings from doing so could greatly outweigh the cost of the repairs plus the drop-in replacement service in just a few short years.
If you have any questions about your current air conditioning equipment or are interested in a full system replacement, we encourage you to reach out to the experts from All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical by calling us at (909) 253-0664 today.