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R-22 Refrigerant Phase outHow it effects your HVAC equipment.

Published: August, 20 2018

The HVAC industry is constantly evolving and is effected by technology and changing legislation. An ongoing change in the industry is the phase out of R-22 (Freon™), as the refrigerant used in residential and commercial air conditioners. Due to its ozone depletion substances (ODS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began the process of a nationwide R-22 phase out with a completion date of 2020.

In the United States, ozone-depleting substances (ODS) are regulated as class I or class II controlled substances. Class I substances have a higher ozone depletion potential and have been completely phased out in the U.S. With a few exceptions, this means no one can produce or import class I substances. Class II substances are all hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are transitional substitutes for many class I substances. New production and import of most HCFCs will be phased out by 2020. The most common HCFC in use today is HCFC-22 or R-22, a refrigerant still used in existing air conditioners and refrigeration equipment.

Why is R-22 (Freon™) going away?

Approximately 25 years ago, the EPA mandated the phase out of R-22 as the result of growing environmental concerns. The EPA’s Montreal Protocol and Clean Air Act cut the amount of R-22 refrigerant in production, phasing it out in favor of more environmentally friendly coolants. R-22 is an ozone-depleting substance, as its hydrofluorocarbons are linked to ozone layer damage. Production of new air conditioning units charged with R-22 ended in 2010, and by 2020 the servicing of R-22-based systems will rely solely on recycled or reclaimed refrigerants.

Though chemical manufacturers will no longer be able to produce, and companies will no longer be able to import R-22 for use in new equipment, they can continue production and import of it for use in servicing existing equipment until 2020.

Limited supply, increasing costs of R-22

Production and import of R-22 will be 9 million pounds in 2018 and 4 million pounds in 2019. To you, this means continued decreases in R-22 supply and availability. As the R-22 supply continues to decrease, the price will continue to increase.

However, as R-22 supply decreases, it is also being recycled by certified refrigerant reclaimers. These reclaimers will make a limited supply of recycled R-22 available after the phaseout until their supplies are exhausted. Suppliers and reclaimers alike have started to impose limitations on how much R-22 can be purchased by a single company to make availability fair. Recycled R-22 will still meet AHRI specifications and will equal newly manufactured refrigerant.

What are the alternative refrigerants to R-22?

According to the EPA, there are several ozone-friendly refrigerant options that are available and widely used today to replace R-22. One of these substitutes is R-410A, a blend of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that does not contribute to depletion of the ozone layer. R-410A is manufactured and sold under various trade names, including GENETRON AZ-20®, SUVA 410A®, Forane® 410A and Puron®.

What if my AC unit was manufactured before 2010?

If your air conditioner was manufactured before 2010, it probably utilizes R-22. The good news – existing units using R-22 can continue to be serviced with it, as there is no EPA requirement for change or conversion of these units. More than likely, your heating and cooling units will have sufficient R-22, unless a leak occurs. Since production is limited, costs to re-charge your existing units leaking R-22 have gone up and are expected to continue to rise.

How do I transition away from using R-22 (Freon™)?

In general, owners and operators of systems using R-22 refrigerant will have multiple choices:

• Operating the existing system until leaks become present and are within the acceptable leak rate set by the EPA, and R-22 remains available.

• Retrofitting (or converting) your existing R-22 equipment to use an existing replacement refrigerant. However, make sure that changing refrigerants will not void OEM warranty(s) on equipment.

• Replacing the system proactively with a new system utilizing EPA approved refrigerants.

Unfortunately, transitioning from one refrigerant to another is not as easy if your system requires re-charging. HVAC systems and mechanical equipment operate best with the refrigerant it was engineered, designed and intended to use. Replacement of other system components may be necessary, and may result in a reduction of system cooling capacity. Understanding the options is key to understanding the path forward.

Next Steps

At Piedmont Service Group, we are here to help you stay informed about these ongoing requirements, and to help limit your business risk as it relates to your HVAC equipment. Please contact one of our Project Professionals for an assessment. Whether you have an immediate need or help with capital planning, we are here to guide you through the many choices.

Graduation Season

Published: May, 22 2018

This morning in Greenville we celebrated the graduation of Daniel Riddick from Pitt Community College.

Daniel was an excellent intern during his time in school and recently became a full-timer on our PSG field team. To mark the occasion, we gifted him a set of very nice refrigerant gauges to add to his arsenal of troubleshooting tools.

Congratulations Daniel!

EnTRADEpreneurship & Career Expo

Published: April, 30 2018

This past Friday, Piedmont Service Group Raleigh was proud to participate in the EnTRADEpreneurship and Career Expo at Vernon Malone College & Career Academy. 

Special thanks to the PSG guys who ran the booth. What a great event!!!

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