What to do if your air conditioning system contains R22

R22 is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) chemical refrigerant that was used in refrigerators and air conditioning units to help keep them cool for many years. In the early 1990s, scientists began to realize that these compounds were causing harm to the ozone layer and had a very detrimental environmental impact.

Between 2000 and 2015 the first stage of the HCFC phase-out began. R22 and other HCFCs were banned from being used in new machines, but could continue to be used in older models. Until 2010 new R22 could be used for service and maintenance tasks, and until 2015 recycled R22 was allowed to be used.

In 2015 the use of R22 was completely banned, however, there was still no requirement for existing systems using R22 refrigerant to be modified or replaced. This means that if you need to remove the refrigerant unit for maintenance, it becomes illegal to reinstall it.

If your air conditioning unit contains R22, there is little you can do. If it is still working you can continue to operate it, but when it breaks or malfunctions you will likely need to replace the entire system.

What can you do if your air conditioning system contains R22?

If your old air conditioning systems contain R22, we would recommend that you replace it completely. It is more expensive in the short term but much more cost-effective overall. This will take longer to occur, as the old system will need to be completely ripped out and replaced.

We would always recommend replacing your R22 air conditioning unit before it fails. This will mean that you can do it at a time suitable for you and will not have your life put out by it suddenly breaking.

It is estimated that modern air conditioning units, made without the use of R22, can be up to 50% more efficient than R22 machines. R32 and R410a are much better for the environment and will lead to a reduction in your house’s carbon footprint.

If you need a much faster solution, or a cheaper option, you can play around with the mechanics of your old system. Try and add a drop-in refrigerant of something legal and safer, such as R410A, R407C or R134a. This is a short-term solution and should not be used as a permanent fix for your unit.

Drop-in refrigerants mimic the action of R22 but in a much safer manner. The downsides to them is that they reduce the performance quality and reliability of your air conditioning unit. They are not cheap to purchase and will make the air conditioning system very expensive to run overtime.

This will not make your older air conditioning system any more efficient so it is likely to remain costly to run. A drop-in replacement for R22 can cause a reduction of up to 30% efficiency and cooling capacity. It is likely to run up costly repair jobs too as it nears the end of its life.

If your commercial air conditioning unit has R22 refrigerant or needs to be replaced, contact our friendly team at Sovereign Planned Services today and we will discuss what we can do for you.

Author: Gareth Whalley
Sharing my vast knowledge in the Air Conditioning and Mechanical services field especially in HVAC installation, service and maintenance across a broad range of sectors, including Healthcare, Education, Transport, Banking, Retail and Commercial developments.