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As of January 1, 2020, producing and importing R22 refrigerant became illegal. But where this move leaves consumers is uncertain, with many asking, “Should I repair or replace my R22 Air Conditioner?” The effort to phase out R22 and other HCFCs began in 2010 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began limiting the production, import, and use of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b. However, you can still use your AC or heat pump if it requires R22, but any repairs involving refrigerant will be much more expensive.


How Does Refrigerant Work?


Your air conditioner’s refrigerant, in this case R22, flows through the coils of the compressor, condenser, and evaporator in a constant cycle. Refrigerant transforms from liquid to gas states at different stages of the process. Changes in pressure allow the fluid to absorb or release heat into the air, changing its temperature before it enters your home.


What Are My Air Conditioning Options?


The ban on R22 doesn’t leave you out in the cold. It’s part of a phasing out of harmful refrigerants over time. But as it’s increasingly difficult to obtain older refrigerant, you may want to consider these options:


  • A/C Repair: Supplies of R22 are quickly shrinking, making it more difficult and expensive to find. However, the refrigerant is available for equipment manufactured prior to 2010. It just might be more costly than an initial payment for a new system. Any suspected leak should be repaired as air conditioners and heat pumps circulating refrigerant continuously; its levels shouldn’t decrease over time.


  • Replacing You A/C: Putting a lot of money into aging and malfunctioning equipment can strain your budget. Replacing your heating and cooling system gives you an opportunity to research products and costs, determine the needs of your home, and look at energy efficient products. There are many new features and benefits to consider compared to products several years ago. Plus, many dealers offer practical financing and monthly payment options and offer routine professional maintenance to keep your system running efficiently and trouble-free.


  • Retrofit Your Air Conditioner: Adding a different refrigerant won’t do the trick, as each refrigerant is suited for a specific pressure level (using a different product than specified voids the unit’s safety certification). Switching to R410A requires modifications to your HVAC system. Any retrofits must be performed by an HVAC professional as damages from faulty service may not be covered by your warranty. Retrofitting is also risky because if any issues arise, it can cost you more than a new installation.


What Is My Best Option?


An air conditioner can last 15 to 20 years if properly cared for. The older it is, the more practical it is to replace the unit. Your options also depend on what’s wrong. An electrical issue is generally easy to fix, but a failed compressor must be replaced, which itself is an investment and it’s usually more worth it to install a new system (especially if the old part used R22). Also, compressor failure is often associated with additional problems.


Why Is R-421A Refrigerant Better?


R-421A does not deplete ozone and contains no butane, isopentane, isobutane, or other hydrocarbons. It is non-flammable, performs within a similar temperature range as R22, and suits a wide range of applications. Your AC will need to be converted, but the new refrigerant is sometimes compatible with R22 compressors.


Contact The AC Hero for Advice and Service


We can help determine whether your old R22 AC or heat pump should be repaired or replaced. If you need a new installation, our licensed technicians will inspect your home to determine the most suitable solutions. The AC Hero offers Dallas preventative maintenance, unmatched warranties, and financing. Call 817-587-0401 to learn more.


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