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What is R22 and how does it affect you?

Posted Aug 29, 2019

It’s important for you to understand what the R22 is: a highly toxic and flammable refrigerant used in most HVAC systems. Since 2010, according to the Montreal Protocol, Canada, USA and EU member states started to phase out, as chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs, one of the components in the refrigerant, was primarily responsible for the ozone layer depletion and is a major greenhouse gas.  

By 2020, producers of air conditioning units and refrigeration systems won’t be allowed to use R22 anymore. If your system was installed before 2010, it’s likely that you may want to replace it.

Why is R22 being banned in Canada?

In the ’80s, a “hole” in the Earth’s ozone layer over the Antarctic was discovered and the world started to pay a lot of attention. Without the shield from the ozone, life on our planet would be impossible with the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Unfortunately, CFCs in heavy industry, air conditioning units and aerosol cans usage were shown to be one of the greatest reasons for the ozone layer’s depletion. 

In 1987, during the Montreal Protocol, the usage of CFCs was banned and most recently HCFCs were also outlawed, during an update in the protocol. As per the US Environmental Protection Agency, R22 refrigerant will become illegal on January 1, 2020. After that date, R22 refrigerant can no longer be manufactured or imported.

What will replace the R22? 

HCFCs are going to be replaced by hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which does not impact the atmosphere as badly, but they still have a high impact on the global warming issue. We may expect some organizations working to ban this refrigerant soon as well, but in the meantime, many of the new air conditioning units already use HFC. 

When do I have to replace my R22?

According to Canada’s government, if you have a system that uses R22, it’s not mandatory that you replace it or get it retrofitted. But now that this type of refrigerant will not be largely manufactured, it may become extremely expensive and hard to locate.

R-22 phase-out timeline

We recommend talking to a specialist that can help you decide the best option for you. We can help you with that. Click here.

Finally, what do I have to do? 

As a simple equipment owner, you can choose if you’re replacing your system or doing a retrofit. Manufacturers and service providers will be the main implicated by the new regulation. So, you are allowed to continue operating a system using R22, but you won’t be able to expand it in the future. This will become increasingly difficult to maintain because R22 will not be available to purchase or utilize by any local companies.

If you own an R22 Air Conditioner, here are your 3 options:

  1. Do nothing and wait until your system needs repairing.
  2. Retrofit your old R22 Air Conditioning to use a new refrigerant.
  3. Replace your system early and avoid additional costs or system downtime.

The subject is extremely complex and we wanted you to have a little bit of information so you can understand better what is going to happen. You should always consult your service provider to determine what it’s your best option. Contact us.

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