If you own an older model air conditioner your system is probably still using an R-22 Refrigerant, or Freon. As technology evolved, so did the use of refrigerants. R-22 is being phased out aggressively and Puron, or R-410A, is taking its place. R22 refrigerant, or HCFC-22 Freon, is an environmental danger because it contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer. The U.S. government has placed restrictions on R22 and has issued the requirement that R22 refrigerant must be eliminated from use in cooling systems by the year 2020. At this point, R22 will no longer be manufactured and cannot be used as a refrigerant in new air conditioning systems. Since Freon 22 is becoming obsolete, having it replaced will become even more difficult as newer machines neglect to use it. If your air conditioner is still running on Freon 22 you need to replace it.

The refrigerant change means several things for homeowners with older ACs:

  • You can continue to use R22 refrigerant in existing systems, but it will only be available through after-market sales, such as when it is recovered from older systems that have been salvaged.
  • Prices of R22 refrigerant have been rising and are expected to continue to rise. By the time the phase-out is complete, R22 will most likely be very expensive.
  • Availability of R22 will be limited since it cannot be purchased new. Even if you need a recharge of R22 in the future, there can be no guarantee that the refrigerant will be available.
  • Complete AC system replacement to an R410a model may be the most cost-effective solution.

Puron-based refrigerants (r-410a) have been proven to be the most reliable and have gained recognition as a long-term solution to ozone depletion.

U.S. Action to Meet the Montreal Protocol Phaseout Schedule

Year to Be Implemented Implementation of R-22 Phaseout through Clean Air Act Regulations Year to Be Implemented Percent Reduction in R-22 Consumption and Production from Baseline
2003 No production or import of HCFC-141b 2004 35.0%
2010 No production or import of HCFC-142b and HCFC-22, except for use in equipment manufactured before January 1 2010 75.0%
2015 No production or import of any other HCFCs, except as refrigerants in equipment manufactured before January 1, 2020 2015 90.0%
2020 No production or import of HCFC-142b and HCFC-22 2020 99.5%
2030 No production or import of any HCFCs 2030 100.0%