Updated June 2021
Since the HVAC industry phased out the use of R22 Freon in 2010, the coolant has become more expensive each year. You don’t need to replace an old air conditioner that uses R22 if it’s still working. But, you may need a new one if you have a coolant leak. Even though we can do a recharge, the price of R22 often outweighs the value — especially if the system is nearing the end of its life anyway.
We’ve updated this article in June of 2021. That way, you’ll get the most accurate and up-to-date information about coolant leaks and what they can mean for your budget and home comfort. We’ll review:
- When And Why R22 Was Phased Out
- Find Out If Your Air Conditioner Uses R22
- Replacing Vs. Repairing An Air Conditioner With R22
- Avoiding An AC Replacement This Summer
- Air Conditioner Repair And Service In South Central Pennsylvania
If you suspect a problem with the AC in your South Central Pennsylvania home, call or email us at Air Comfort Technologies.
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When And Why R22 Was Phased Out
The EPA implemented a decades-long phaseout of R22 freon nearly 30 years ago. The coolant was found to be very harmful to the environment, so manufacturers now use R410A, which is not as bad. Here’s how things played out:
In 1996, air conditioner manufacturers began using either R22 or R410A. That means that, for years, and AC could use one or the other.
In 2010, manufacturers completely stopped making ACs using R22. Every model from then on used R410A. In the same year, R22 production began decreasing.
A decade later, in 2020, all R22 production ceased in the United States. It’s also illegal to import it.
The phaseout was designed to make it less likely that you’d have to replace a newer air conditioner because of a leak. The production tapered off over a decade. As a result, most ACs that use R22 are over ten years old. Most units last around 15 years with proper maintenance. Your older system would be almost ready for replacement anyway if you ran into a problem with R22.
Today, there’s still R22 available. But, it’s not always easy to find. And, it’s expensive. Today, it costs almost $180 a pound. Compare that to R410, which is only $80 a pound. We’ll get into how those costs determine if you’ll need a replacement a little later. For now, let’s talk about how to know what your AC uses.
Find Out If Your Air Conditioner Uses R22
You can tell if your AC uses R22 or R410A by checking the manufacturing and installation dates. You can also look up the system’s specs online or ask your HVAC contractor. If you’ve had service done before, they should have your equipment on file.
Any unit made before 1996 uses R22. Anything between 1996 and 2010 could use either one, so you’ll need to check. If your AC was built after 2010, it uses R410A.
Replacing Vs. Repairing An Air Conditioner With R22
We’ve heard a common misconception about having to replace any AC that uses R22. That’s not true. If your system is still working, you can still use it until it breaks down. The R22 works in a closed loop through the system. It doesn’t get expelled into the air or anything — unless, of course, there’s a leak.
And, that’s when you’ll need a new unit.
Most residential ACs hold eight pounds of refrigerant. And, unless the leak is very, very small — or you caught it right away — we need to flush out the entire system and recharge it.
With the price of R22 at $180 or more, that’s nearly $1,500 just for the coolant. It’s too much to invest in an older system. You’re better off buying a new, more efficient AC that won’t just break down anyway in the next few years.
In some cases, we can “top off” the system after patching a tiny leak. But, once we do that, start thinking about a replacement right away. A small recharge can get you through this summer, but your AC won’t make it through the following year.
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Avoiding An AC Replacement This Summer
One of the best ways to avoid a significant problem or air conditioner replacement in the summer is by getting an AC tune-up in the spring (or a heater tune-up for the winter). Even if you’re already into the warm weather, you can still get this service done.
With a tune-up, an HVAC tech inspects the entire system, inside and out. This way, they can head off all sorts of problems before they occur. When you have an older system, that could mean catching a small freon leak before you lose too much coolant.
Air Conditioner Repair And Service In South Central Pennsylvania
Don’t wait for a small cooling problem to get worse! Having a professional fix a minor issue can save you the time, money, and headache of needing a new air conditioner if the problem becomes too expensive to repair. Call Air Comfort Technologies for all your air conditioner repair and service needs in Manchester, York, Camp Hill, and across South Central Pennsylvania.