If your home has air conditioning—and this is Dallas, so we’re sure it does!—you may have heard by now that the federal government has banned Freon, or R-22 refrigerant. If you haven’t heard the news or want to know what the ban means for your AC, you’re in the right place. Barbosa Plumbing & Air Conditioning has all the information you need to navigate the Freon ban in Texas.
Have more questions about the Freon ban? Contact us to learn more!
What is Freon?
Freon is only a brand name. The actual banned product is called R-22, and it’s a refrigerant used in air conditioning systems to cool commercial and residential properties. For almost 50 years, it has been the industry standard coolant used in heat pumps and air conditioners.
Why was it banned?
R-22 Freon is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon, or HCFC, which has been found to deplete the Earth’s ozone layer, contributing to global warming and increasing our chances of developing skin cancer. Due to its environmental consequences, it is included in the Environmental Protection Agency’s phaseout plan for ozone-depleting substances.
What is the timeline for the ban?
The Freon ban is part of the 1987 Montreal Protocol which identified many ozone depleting chemicals and outlined a global plan to reduce their production and use until they were phased out completely. Here in America, Freon production had been reduced by 75% in 2010 and by an additional 15% in 2015; the goal is to completely stop producing Freon by 2020.
Does this mean my air conditioner will no longer cool my home?
No. The Freon ban ends the production of R-22, but does not require existing stocks of the coolant be destroyed. So if your air conditioning unit uses R-22, it will still be able to cool your home. However, charging an air conditioning system with more coolant and other air conditioning repairs will be significantly more expensive going forward. R-22 prices have already increased fourfold since the Freon ban was enacted and will only increase more as supplies become more scarce.
Can I use a different refrigerant in my air conditioner?
Yes and no. The new standard refrigerant, R-410A, cannot be used in a Freon air conditioner. It operates at a higher pressure than R-22 and will therefore cause your air conditioning unit to break if you try to substitute R-410A for Freon.
However, there are alternative coolants you can use in lieu of Freon called drop-in refrigerants. Freon air conditioners aren’t designed for drop-in refrigerants, though; using a drop-in refrigerant will make your air conditioner wear out faster. This is why they are recommended only as a temporary stopgap to keep your home cool while waiting to install a new air conditioning unit.
Will I need to replace my air conditioning system when the Freon ban is fully implemented?
No. You will eventually need to replace your air conditioning system, but that will be due to normal wear and tear and not the Freon ban. As we said earlier, the existing stocks of Freon won’t be destroyed as part of the ban, so you’ll still be able to use your existing air conditioner. All air conditioners produced today are made for R-410A, so when the time comes you can simply replace your air conditioner without having to think about the coolant it uses.
Now that you know the basics of what to expect with the Freon ban, you can be sure to take the necessary steps with your cooling system moving forward.