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What the R-22 Refrigerant Phaseout Means for You

What the R-22 Refrigerant Phaseout Means for You

August 10, 2018

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If you work in the HVAC industry, R-22 refrigerant and hydrochlorofluorocarbons are familiar terms. If you are a consumer, however, you may have never heard of them.

Since the phaseout of R-22 in the United States will affect manufacturers, technicians, and consumers alike, this blog helps everyone to understand what the ban means for air conditioning service and replacement moving forward.

Overall, the R-22 phaseout is a good step forward, especially for the environment, but let’s dive into the details.

What is R-22?

HCFC-22, also known as R-22, is a very common refrigerant used in residential air conditioning systems. HCFC is an acronym for hydrochlorofluorocarbons.

You can’t have air conditioning without refrigerant. HCFCs, however, are awful for the environment. The release of these chemicals is contributing to climate change and the rapid depletion of our protective ozone layer.

By phasing out the use of R-22 and other HCFCs in refrigeration equipment, the United States Environmental Protection Agency is making strides in protecting the stratospheric ozone layer and reducing greenhouse gasses.

Within the decade between 2020 and 2030, the full ban will take effect. This lengthy period is more than enough time to start looking into air conditioning replacement options that use alternative refrigerants, such as R-134a, R-407C, R-410A, and R-407A.

In the coming years, R-22 will become more scarce (only stockpiled and recycled quantities will remain), thus raising the price.

Air-conditioning equipment made before 2010 can still be serviced with R-22. While there is no immediate need for any changes on your part, keep in mind that R-22 prices are on the rise. You can help prevent refrigerant leaks and improve energy efficiency by remembering to schedule annual air conditioning maintenance every spring.

While air conditioning equipment does tend to work best when it uses the refrigerant it was designed for, air conditioners can be retrofitted with acceptable alternative refrigerants.

Read on to see a timeline of the phaseout and how you can best prepare.

Timeline of the Phaseout:

HCFC-22 (also called R-22) and HCFC-142b (also called R142b) are the next two HCFCs that the United States will phase out.

The schedule to phase out HCFCs is:

January 1, 2010 — Ban on production, import and use of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b, except for continuing servicing needs of existing equipment

January 1, 2015 — Ban on production, import, and use of all HCFCs, except for continuing servicing needs of refrigeration equipment

January 1, 2020 — Ban on remaining production and import of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b. After 2020, the servicing of systems with R-22 will rely on recycled or stockpiled quantities

January 1, 2030 — Ban on remaining production and import of all HCFCs

Source: U.S. EPA

The phaseout of R-22 began in 2010, and will culminate in a full ban on any remaining production and import of all HCFCs by 2030. In 2020, just a couple years away, the ban will affect the remaining production and import of R-22 (HCFC-22). Meaning, R-22 will no longer be produced or imported, and any servicing beyond that point will rely on recycled, recovered, or reclaimed supplies (EPA). 

How to Prepare for 2020 and Beyond:

If your current air conditioning equipment contains R-22, you don’t need to go out tomorrow and replace the whole system. You can continue to have your system serviced, but you should take steps to have it serviced responsibly.

Here are some tips for servicing your current equipment containing R-22:

Keep your unit properly maintained — Appropriate servicing minimizes potential environmental damage.

Select a reliable service contractor — Technicians should have an EPA Section 608 certification to service equipment containing R-22.

Don’t “top off” — Request that service technicians locate and repair leaks instead of “topping off” leaking systems.

Source: U.S. EPA

New air conditioning systems are prohibited to use R-22. When the time comes for you to purchase a new air conditioning system, it will use alternative refrigerants that do not cause harm to the ozone layer.

Newer systems are also more energy efficient and have lower energy costs. Be sure to purchase a model that has an ENERGY STAR® label. This means the model is at least 14% more efficient than a standard new system. Good for your wallet and the environment — what could be better?

Stop burning a hole in your wallet and the ozone layer by complying with the phaseout of HFCFs and R-22 by 2020 and 2030. Speak with a professional HVAC technician about what you can do to responsibly service your current equipment.


For expert air conditioning service and replacement, Fix-It 24/7 is here to answer any questions and help get you the safest and most environmentally friendly AC system.

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