These are the types of questions Service Specialties Inc. have been recently more often than not in the recent years. Everyone around Northern Virginia wants to know why the cost of air conditioning coolant has gone up. The answer is quite simple yet very hard to understand for some. Many people are wondering if the new cost of air conditioning coolant is some sort of scam run by HVAC contractors. The answer is that your local HVAC contractor (whoever it may be) is more than likely not trying to scam you, but rather you are running a new type of air conditioning system that requires a new type of coolant due to recent executions of government law.
Due to the Montreal Protocol, The once used air conditioning coolant named R-22 (also known as HCFC-22) is being phased out of use. Starting in 2010, air conditioners and heat pumps that used the coolant R-22 were no longer allowed to be manufactured by law. R-22 coolant is now only able to be used to service air conditioners that were built previous to 2010. As a result, Air Conditioning systems and coolant costs have drastically increased over the last couple of years.
By 2015 the U.S. will have reduced it's HCFC consumption by about 90% and by 2020 it is expected that all of 99.5% of HCFC consumption will be phased out. For more information on what you should know when purchasing or repairing residential A/C systems or heat pumps click here.
Why the Change from R-22 to R-410A?
R-22 is considered to be a greenhouse gas, and releases of it from your air conditioning systems due to leaks and other malfunctions can contribute to ozone depletion and global warming. One of the substances that is replacing it is called R-410A, which is made from a blend of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which does not contribute to the depletion of the ozone (but does contribute to global warming). In 1987, the Montreal Protocol began a worldwide phase-out of ozone-depleting CFC's. It created a timeline for the phase out of products like that of R-22, and provided solutions for replacements like that of the R-410.
If I have an Air Conditioner that Uses R-22, Do I have to Replace it?
The answer is no, you do not have to replace it. You can continue running it and even continue to get air conditioning services with it. This is true even if your A/C or heat pump system requires major repair services. For other commonly asked questions from homeowners who are interested in servicing their air conditioning units, please visits this FAQ issued by the EPA.