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Recently the EPA has tightened the reins on the production of R-22 refrigerant. The reasoning behind this goes back to the 1980’s when world scientists’ discovered the rapid depletion of the earth’s Ozone layers caused by Chorine evaporating into the earth’s atmosphere. Many chemicals we use for everyday life contain Chorine including bleach, table salt, water sanitizing products and refrigerant (specifically R-22). On September 16th, 1997 several world leaders gathered in Montreal Canada and adopted a plan to reduce and ultimately phase out the use of Chlorine rich products. This adopted plan is known today as the “Montreal Protocol” and The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes the rules and regulations that govern how the United States will achieve is obligation to the Montreal Protocol.
Your existing system contains a refrigerant that has been put on a list of refrigerants that the EPA is forcing out of existence. As the owner of the company, I have asked my technicians to convey this information to our customers in order for them to prepare for a situation that will eventually affect everyone who uses an air conditioner to cool their home or business.
What does this mean to me?
EPA is rationing R-22 refrigerant – This will drive the consumer cost up significantly.
How much more will R-22 be this year compared to last year and looking ahead in 2013?
On a wholesale level, R-22 has increased in price over 150% in the past 12 months. This increase equated to more than double the price to the end user. An Average cost per pound in 2011 was $35. Be prepared to spend twice this in 2012 and double again in 2013
Does the rationing of R-22 cause me a concern for getting refrigerant in 2012?
The rationing of R-22 could mean that some homeowners of businesses will be delayed in getting their systems repaired due to a back-up of service issue. Another words “First Come, First Serve”
Will there be a drop-in replacement available for the R22 product?
Yes, manufactures are developing replacement alternatives. Presently, the available options have comparable pricing and differing performance values. Most of the time the “Drop-In” replacements require a complete evacuation of the R-22 in the system and a recharge of the system with the replacement refrigerant AFTER the source of the leak has been repaired. This work is quite expensive and often times, its best to look at a longer term solution.
Is the EPA ruling a definitive one?
Yes! Be sure to see the actual EPA “Phase Out” Schedule click here for more information.
Is there a concern that my refrigerant could be vulnerable to theft?
Absolutely! The outdoor air conditioning unit at your home and business have been a target for “Copper Thefts” for a couple of years. With the increase in refrigerant prices, the refrigerant will be the next and additional target. There are theft deterrent devices to stop the thieves from stealing your refrigerant and equipment. See our website at for more information on theft deterrent devices.
Does the new equipment contain refrigerant?
Yes! All cooling equipment requires refrigerant in order to cool. The most common replacement for the older R-22 systems would be the “Ozone Safe” R-410a. This refrigerant has been in use since 1995 and is commonly found in most replacement systems today.
Is there any way to stop a refrigerant leak?
There are products available to stop or slow a refrigerant leak. Those products tend to be temporary solutions and may even be a last resort to “buy” time while other options are explored. Beware that most manufactures discourage the use of these products due to the introduction of a foreign materials into an extremely dry and clean system. Manufactures have been known the void warranties when these products have been used.
Is the new refrigerant safer for the Ozone?
Yes. According to scientific studies, non-chlorine based refrigerant as found in R-410a is safe for the ozone in the event it escapes the cooling system.
Are there health risks associated with escaping refrigerant?
Most certainly, especially if the R-22 leak occurs on the inside portion of the air condition system. Refrigerant deplete oxygen and if exposed to open flame, it will produce phosgene gas, a very deadly gas that was used in WWII, also known as “Mustard Gas” which was commonly used against enemies during war time.
If you would like to research further, below are a couple of web addresses to get you started.