Air Conditioning is by no means a new invention. As early as 1902 did the ball get rolling with Willis Carrier, who invented a water-based cooling system to prevent paper from wrinkling. Within 30 years of Mr. Willis’ paper application, chemical non-flammable refrigerants were developed. By the 1930s R-22 refrigerant was created and it became the refrigerant of choice in homes by the 1950s. This ancient refrigerant is the one that many homes use today.
It has become plainly apparent that this historic refrigerant is causing damage to the ozone. This resulted in a global discussion about the future of this refrigerant and its production. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took action to protect the environment from further damage by creating strict standards for handling, recovering, and disposing of all refrigerants. As a result of the international discussion, they took further action and also saw to it that we begin phasing out the use of R-22 refrigerant here in the United States.
Since then R-22 has slowly phased out of production until it ceased altogether. Therefore the only way to obtain R-22 today is by buying what reserves are already in existence. How scarce is R-22 today? Well, in 2011 there were 100 million pounds of R-22 refrigerant allocated in the United States. By 2017, the proposed amount for the entire United States is 18 million pounds! What does that mean?
It means that on a supply and demand graph, there is significantly less refrigerant available compared to the demand. R-410A, the new refrigerant being used, requires different heating and air equipment. Therefore homeowners are wary about switching over. As the supplies continue to decrease it will reach a point at which it would actually be cheaper to buy an entirely new system then refill your system with R-22 refrigerant.
In addition, with inventories being this low it is possible that refrigerant vendors may simply not be able to provide companies like ourselves with R-22 refrigerant during certain busy periods during the year. As we gear up for the future, manufacturers have also begun to abandon making parts for R-22 systems and are instead using their time to develop more equipment that is compatible with new refrigerants.
The bottom line is that if you are in an older home that is currently reliant on R-22 refrigerant, it may be time to speak to a licensed contractor about what it may take to get your system ready for R-410A refrigerant that is currently in use. Continuing to use R-22 may lead you to significantly higher repair bills or a system that is unrepairable due to scarcity. There are many options available to consumers that work for budgets of varying means.
For more information on the phasing out of R-22 refrigerant, please view this website article for accurate information.
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