What the EPA’s R-22 Phaseout Means for Your Building
The final schedule for the phaseout of R-22 refrigerant was recently announced by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This reduction is both linear and aggressive. New equipment using R-22 has been banned from production by manufacturers of air conditioning units and heat pumps since 2010.
In addition to the above restriction, EPA will limit the amount of imported and new R-22 according to the following schedule:
- 51 million pounds in 2014
- 22 million pounds in 2015
- 18 million in 2016
- 13 million in 2017
- 9 million in 2018
- 4 million in 2019
- No imported or new R-22 after the first of the year 2020
A Little Information about R-22
R-22 is a non-toxic, simple to use, and efficient refrigerant. For more than four decades, R-22 has been the most widely used refrigerant on the globe. The reason the EPA is slowly phasing R-22 out is that it contains chlorine. As a hydrochlorofluorocarbon refrigerant, R-22 depletes the ozone layer whenever it is released. The import and production of R-22 coolant is being phased out in the hopes of repairing and protecting the ozone layer.
What the Reduction Means
After much deliberation, the EPA chose its aggressive reduction of 57 percent from the 2014 allocation of R-22. To prepare for the drastic decrease, businesses need to start planning now. You have about five years to get ready for the full phaseout. If you wait until the last minute, it will be too late.
There is no need to panic. Some experts are predicting there will be shortages down the road, but for meeting servicing demands in the near future, there is a sufficient supply. However, there will likely be a sharp increase in R-22 prices as the supply dwindles. In addition, there will also be an increase in reclaim activity and alternative refrigerant sales.
Reclamation is always a valid consideration. This process takes used refrigerants and brings them back to ARI-700 purity standards. In other words, any R-22 that has not yet been produced or is currently in use can be reused and recycled well beyond 2020 through reclamation.
Another alternative is to simply replace your HVAC equipment. Talk to your HVAC technician about what options are available to you during the next routine maintenance visit. You can come up with a plan and budget for changing out your HVAC system to newer equipment that does not use R-22 with the help of your HVAC technician.
How Do You Know if Your Air Conditioning Uses R-22?
There is a nameplate on most air conditioners that identifies what refrigerant it contains along with electrical ratings, safety certifications, and other information. The nameplate is typically on the outdoor condensing unit for a central air conditioner. You may be able to obtain the information in a variety of other ways if you cannot find a nameplate.
The owner’s manual for the air conditioner should list what refrigerant is used. In addition, the business or individual who services or sold you your air conditioner will likely know what refrigerant it utilizes. You can even check the manufacturer’s web site or call them if you know the model number and manufacturer.
We are also more than happy to take a look at your unit and tell you if R-22 is being used.
Are There Alternative Refrigerants to R-22?
In the refrigeration and air conditioning industry these days, there are widely used alternative refrigerants that do not deplete the ozone layer. In addition, the EPA has a number of acceptable alternatives to R-22 that do not harm the ozone layer through itsSignificant New Alternatives Policy Program.
The most common alternative refrigerant is an HFC refrigerant blend known as R-410A. Forane® 410A, GENETRON AZ-20®, Puron®, and SUVA 410A® are some common trade names for R-410A. A full list of acceptable substitutes for light commercial and household air conditioning is maintained by the EPA. In addition, we carry a range of suitable substitutes that will prepare your HVAC system for the future.
How Do You Choose an Appropriate Contractor for Purchasing an Alternative Refrigerants System?
When choosing the right contractor, it is imperative that they have the proper training. Not all of them are trained properly. For technicians that service equipment with non-ozone depleting alternative refrigerants, the EPA does not require any sort of certification. Customers need to be sure that the contractor they hire is trained in the service and installation techniques needed for the substitute refrigerant they are using, since these replacement refrigerants have required the redesign of air conditioning and heat pump systems in general.
How Do You Dispose of Old R-22 Equipment?
For disposing of these systems, there are a few alternatives. Many contractors and dealers will remove the old R-22 appliance when you purchase a new ozone friendly appliance. Many scrap yards, metal recyclers, and landfills will not accept equipment that still contains refrigerant. And, before they can take custody, they must verify the refrigerant has been removed.
For most consumers and businesses, disposing of equipment that has or once had refrigerant in it is a confusing and frustrating process. To ensure you are following local and federal laws while still protecting the environment, we are happy to help you with the process.
Contact Armstrong Air & Heating
We have been installing and selling equipment that utilizes R-410A and R-407C refrigerants in order to get ready for the discontinuation of R-22 refrigerant. For R-22, these are the main replacements. We also have access to a cylinder exchange program.
Please contact us to learn more about the R-22 phaseout. In the HVAC industry, Armstrong Air & Heating has more than 35 years of experience. Currently led by president Paul Richards, we offer both residential and commercial heating and cooling solutions.
Factory trained professionals make up our skilled team at Armstrong Air & Heating. To ensure the best solution for your cooling and heating projects, we follow through each of our jobs from start until completion.