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Phase Out of R-22 Refrigerant
New production and import of most HCFCs (Hyrdochloroflurocarbons) will be phased out by 2020. The most common HCFC in use today is HCFC-22 or R-22, a refrigerant commonly found in air conditioning equipment. EPA regulations issued under Sections 601–607 of the Clean Air Act phase out the production and import of ozone-depleting substances. The EPA will reduce the amount of R-22 that can be produced or imported into the United States each year from now until 2020. At that time production and importation will not be allowed at all.
Along with the limited new R-22 produced each year; existing stocks in the United States may be purchased and reclaimed R-22 can be reused in service situations until 2020. If you have an existing unit that uses R-22, you will be allowed to continue to use this unit. The EPA is not mandating a retrofit of existing units that use R-22. If the air conditioner needs some refrigerant added to it; a service technician would be able to add R-22 to the existing system as long as they have a stock of R-22 refrigerant. If you need to replace an existing air conditioning unit; you will have two options.
The first option is to purchase an “dry-shipped” outdoor air condoning unit. These types of units are designed to work with R-22 systems, but will not come with any refrigerant charge. While the EPA does not allow these units to be manufactured anymore; these units can still be purchased while stock is still available. As dry-shipped R-22 air conditioner inventory drops and R-22 becomes harder to come by year after year; most owners will not view this option as the best option.
The second option is to upgrade your air conditioning system to a compliant refrigerant. Unfortunately, this will require all of the components in the refrigeration cycle to be replaced including the outdoor air conditioning unit, the indoor evaporator coil and the refrigeration piping. While this option may cost more than the dry-shipped R-22 unit; it will ensure the owner that materials needed to make repairs to the unit in the future will be available.
If you are purchasing new air conditioning equipment, it will have to use a compliant refrigerant alternative. There are many alternative refrigerants available on the market today that comply with the EPA phase out.