Yes, the US will phase out Freon R22 in 2020 and you may need to upgrade your AC system. The VERIFY team shows how to tell whether your air conditioning unit will be impacted by Freon being phased out in 2020.
Author: Jason Puckett, David Tregde
Published: 6:24 PM CDT May 21, 2019
Viewer Michael B. emailed the VERIFY team a compelling question: “I’m being told that home air conditioning freon will no longer be sold after the current supply runs out in the USA. This will force homeowners to install all new furnaces and condensers. Is this really true?”
Is what Michael heard correct? Is the US phasing out Freon, forcing people to buy new systems soon?
The short answer is yes. Freon is the common name for HCFC-22 and R-22. Those chemicals are the most popular refrigerants that have been used in AC units, and more, over the past few several decades. In 2010, the EPA banned any new systems that used HCFC-22 and starting January 1, 2020, they will ban the manufacturing and import of the chemical itself.
There’s no definitive timeline for when HCFC-22 will no longer be available, but as supplies start to dwindle, it’s likely that the price will increase. Put simply, at some point in the future anyone with an AC unit that uses HCFC-22 will have to get a new system.
WHAT WE FOUND:
The agency explains that HCFC-22 was found to be particularly damaging to the environment with links to ozone depletion. As a result, the agency banned new systems that used it from being built or installed after 2010.As the site details, the January 2020 deadline has to do with the chemical itself:
“you can no longer purchase a central air-conditioning unit that uses HCFC-22. However, you can continue to service your existing HCFC-22 system. You can also purchase a “self-contained” system (typically, a window unit) if is second-hand and/or was produced prior to 2010. Keep in mind that supplies of HCFC-22 are expected to become more limited in the years ahead as this refrigerant is phased out of production.”
To check what kind of system you have, look for a sticker on the side. If it says “HCFC-22 or R-22” your system uses the older coolant that the EPA is phasing out.
If it reads as R-401A, it’s a more modern system that uses readily available coolants.