The Price of Air: The R-22 ban is approaching, how will it impact your air conditioner?

Updated: Nov. 15, 2019 at 9:29 AM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Turning on your air conditioner isn’t probably on your mind right now but come January, you could be paying a lot more for coolant. The coolant, R-22, will soon be phased out.

Starting January 1, 2020, the Environmental Protection agency is banning the production of R-22 gas which helps cool the air in your home. The EPA says R-22 damages and depletes the ozone layer.

"If your unit is 15 years or older, odds are R-22 is in it,” Kerry Adkins, owner of OnTime Service said.

AC units installed after 2010 are supposed to have R- 410A in them, which is the newer, more environmentally friendlier gas. Adkins said if you have an older unit and it’s working fine, you aren’t required to do anything just yet.

"If it ever gets low on refrigerant, R-22 is still available, the price on it is going to fluctuate based on demand because they aren't manufacturing new anymore. So it’s really going to depend on how much people are recycling,” Adkins said.

R-22 prices could soar if supplies are low and AC repairs could skyrocket as well. Adkins says if your unit is over 15 years old, it’s getting to the end of its life cycle.

"If there is like a substantial leak on it, in the compressor or coil or something like that, where you are going to continually add R-22 to it, it just may be more cost effective to just go ahead and replace the unit and not deal with it anymore,” Adkins said.

The government hasn’t set a time frame to replace your AC units. Adkins said that depends on what environment it’s operating in and how well you’ve maintained it over the years. Adkins said if you do add refrigerant to your unit, always use a licensed contractor to do the job.

"Because you don't want to start mixing refrigerants because that creates all kinds of problems,” Adkins said.

If you aren’t sure what coolant your AC uses, look on the side of it and there should be a label or sticker that has a lot of the manufacturer information. Look for R-22 or the newer coolant R-410A.

You can still possess or recycle R-22 after January.

You can read more information from the EPA on R-22 here.

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