For years, air conditioners of all different types have depended on R-22 refrigerant, better known as Freon, to operate. However, many studies have shown Freon to be a huge environmental polluter which erodes the ozone layer that protects our planet. As such, the EPA initiated a phase-out on Freon and many other harmful chemicals back in 2010 as a part of an international agreement known as the Montreal Protocol.
Starting on January 1st of next year, this phase-out will reach its final form as the EPA institutes a total ban on all domestic production of Freon in as well as all importing of the substance from abroad. That means the available supply of Freon will be pretty much the only Freon you’ll be able to find, and that could mean a dramatic impact to the cost of running and maintaining your air conditioner. Our owner, Gary Ward, recently spoke with ABC 7 News in Amarillo to discuss this upcoming ban and what it could mean for those who still depend on Freon-based air conditioning systems.
Costs Will Rise for Freon-Based AC Repairs
When Freon was common, completely refilling your air conditioner would generally cost around a few hundred dollars. However, thanks to limited production numbers and a dwindling supply, Freon costs have skyrocketed, and now even routine repairs come with an extremely high price tag. With the full ban coming into effect in 2020, those costs should shoot up even higher. “We still have a number of customers that have the R-22 and so we have to work with that which is not a problem at this point,” Ward told ABC7, “But R-22 is going to become a big problem.”
You Don’t Need a New Air Conditioner
There are a number of different systems around the Texas panhandle area which still depend on R-22 Freon, and those people may be wondering if they have to go out and buy a new air conditioner to avoid breaking the law. There’s good news: owning and operating an R-22 based system is not against the law, even with the total ban. The ban is a “grandfathering” style ban, which means that no new systems which use R-22 can be installed. Over time, the older systems which still do use it will all be replaced.
What Refrigerants Can You Use?
Today, new systems frequently run on a different refrigerant, known as R-410 or Puron. Most systems which were built in 2010 or later use Puron gas as a refrigerant, but switching over to isn’t a simple matter of replacing the refrigerant in your system. Puron and Freon both operate under substantially different pressures, and putting one in a system designed for the other is going to result in some potentially catastrophic consequences for your air conditioner.
Some companies may suggest a “drop-in” replacement, which is essentially a refrigerant that’s similar to R-22 Freon, but doesn’t function nearly as well. We don’t recommend these options, and instead we encourage those who are looking to avoid the hassle of dealing with Freon to replace their system entirely. We strongly recommend changing out your system completely before it fails so you can avoid the hassle of being without air conditioning, particularly during the hottest months of summer in the Texas panhandle.
If you need your air conditioner repaired or are interested in a replacement before the Freon ban goes into full effect this upcoming January, call Gary’s Heating and Air Conditioning at (806) 318-1337 today!