Is Your HVAC Equipment Ready for the R-22 Phase Out ?
Phasing out of refrigerant to help the environment is nothing new. Chemicals that harm the ozone have been a topic of debate for many years. No matter what your belief the facts are that R-22 refrigerant will be going away and it is important that you prepare for the transition. For those of us in the industry who survived the phase out of R-11, we all know there will be challenges. However, your contractor should be able to guide you with solutions that will prepare you for the January 1, 2020 cutoff date when ABSOLUTELY NO NEW R-22 refrigerant will be manufactured or imported into the United States.
As you are probably aware, the EPA banned the manufacture of new air-conditioning equipment utilizing R-22 several years ago. In January 2015, the use of all R-22 refrigerant in the maintenance or servicing of existing equipment was prohibited. Equipment containing R-22 can continue to be used, but no maintenance or servicing that involves refrigerant circuits is allowed.
WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?
Typically, you will have several options when it comes to complying with the new laws and restrictions. Ask your contractor specifically for more information on any of these options.
Option 1: Maintain Current Equipment
Continue to use the equipment and R-22 you currently have; however, keep in mind the availability of R-22 will continue to decrease as the cost to obtain the refrigerant will increase. Recover the R-22 that is currently in the system, repair the equipment and put the R-22 back into the machine. Also, you will need to be vigilant when it comes to detecting the smallest of leaks. You must have a reliable leak monitoring system in place.
Option 2: Replace Existing Equipment
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may be a philosophy to live by, but in the world of HVAC and regulations, sometimes the upfront cost to replace is a better option than trying to maintain equipment in the long run. Your contractor should be able to give you a cost analysis when discussing your options.
Option 3: Refrigerant Retrofit
Planned retrofits are always better than emergency retrofits. Some of your current equipment can be retrofitted to allow for the new replacement refrigerants. You will need to talk to your contractor regarding specific equipment and how it can be changed or updated to meet current laws and regulations. A good contractor will be able to give you more information on your equipment and the pros/cons of a specific retrofit project. You must remember that there are no “drop-in” replacements for machines that use R-22. Each alternative refrigerant has advantages and disadvantages that again your contractor must be knowledgeable. Your contractor should also know or be able to find out if equipment warranties will change or become void if a retrofit option is completed.
There is time to begin preparing CMC Mechanical can help. It is not too late to have a conversation with your contractor about the equipment you now have, the options that fit your needs, and a budget to adhere to the new refrigerant regulations. Your contractor should be looking out for you now and not waiting until a crisis occurs.