With a federal government phaseout well underway, supplies of R-22 refrigerant – commonly used in air conditioners and heat pumps – are getting smaller every year. But what exactly does this mean for you and your air conditioning system? If you have a cooling system that’s more than three years old, here’s a closer look at how the R-22 shortage may affect you over the course of the next several years.
For years, R-22 was the standard for refrigerant in air conditioning systems. As part of the global mobilization against climate change, the U.S. government began phasing out the use of ozone-depleting R-22 several years ago. As of 2010, the production of any R-22-reliant cooling equipment was halted. Although R-22 may still be used to service and repair older A/Cs, it won’t be produced after 2020. At that time, the only R-22 available for servicing pre-2010 cooling systems will be recycled. In the meantime, the availability of the refrigerant will continue to decrease as production drops every year.
If your A/C or heat pump was manufactured before 2010, you could be affected by the R-22 phaseout. In the event that your air conditioner develops a refrigerant leak, or has a lower than prescribed level for any other reason, your contractor will need to re-charge your system with R-22. The extreme shortage of this agent will result in higher costs, meaning that you’ll have to pay more for repairs. And if supplies become really scarce, it may become impossible to fix or service your equipment.