When does the ban on R-22 air conditioning refrigerant take effect?
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered a gradual phase-out of R-22 refrigerant that began in 2010. It is not an outright ban now, but the EPA is tightening restrictions on its manufacture and use over the next 14 years, until a total ban in 2030. DuPont originally developed and marketed R-22 under the trademarked name “Freon,” which is what it is commonly called; but you may also see it as HCFC-22 on a manufacturer’s data plate, since it is a ¨HydroChloroFluoroCarbon.
The EPA implemented an R-22 phase-out because scientists found that the coolant damages the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere. Ozone near the edge of space reduces the amount of UV light that enters the earth’s atmosphere, and the shrinking of the ozone buffer is tied to both global warming and an increase in skin cancer. Here’s the timeline from 2010 until the total ban:
- 2010 - No new HVAC systems can be manufactured for R-22.
- 2015 - Big decrease in the amount of R-22 allowed to be manufactured, and it cannot be used for any systems manufactured after January 1, 2010.
- 2020 - No new production of R-22 allowed. Recycling of existing R-22 can be done, but only by licensed reclaimers under strict regulations.
- 2030 - Production, distribution, sale or possession becomes illegal. Phase-out is complete.
Here’s what is ahead for you If you own an older heat pump or air conditioner that uses R-22 refrigerant:
- Because the EPA is radically tightening supplies of R-22, it will become much more expensive and, eventually, difficult to acquire for repairs.
- Existing systems cannot be recharged with one of the new coolants, such as R-410A, so at some point equipment replacement will be necessary.
- You can replace the unit now, to avoid being affected by the phase-out, or wait until HCFCs are banned.
We suggest you talk with your HVAC service technician during your next service call for advice and further updates on the transition to more a environmentally friendly refrigerant.
See our blog post ”How can I tell if an air conditioner uses R-22 or R-410A refrigerant?" to determine which refrigerant your system has.
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