Like many homeowners in Sacramento, CA, you may have heard of the new laws around AC refrigerant chemicals. In 2010, the EPA began phasing out the use of the common chemical R22. Its replacement is a new chemical called R401A. It’s important to learn about R401A and R22 to understand the future of your HVAC system.
Why Has R22 Been Outlawed?
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are chemicals that deplete the earth’s ozone layer. R22, also known as Freon, is an HCFC. Research has proven that the use of Freon has been very harmful to the environment.
As a result, new laws are attempting to remove HCFCs from use in society. In fact, many nations throughout the world have banded together to accomplish this. By 2030, very few HCFCs will remain in circulation. Freon is unlikely to be among them.
What Is R401A and Why Is It Better for the Environment?
R401A does not deplete the earth’s ozone layer. Also known as Puron, R401A is a non-ozone-depleting hydrofluorocarbon (HFC). Switching to R401A will mean that air conditioners will have less impact on the environment.
However, R401A does produce some greenhouse emissions. These gases contribute to the global warming effect. As such, researchers are still looking for a refrigerant that provides efficient cooling and has a minimal carbon footprint.
As it stands, R401A will remain the best environmental option for years to come. Don’t worry, your new AC that uses R401A will go all the way through its life-span before this changes.
Can I Still Buy R22 if My Current Air Conditioner Needs a Recharge?
For now, it’s still possible to get R22 to recharge your old air conditioner. However, the R22 supply is finite and dwindling. As less and less supply is available to keep up with demand, prices will rise. Eventually, an AC recharge with R22 will become very expensive.
New R22 air conditioners have not been manufactured in the United States since 2010. Due to this fact, most air conditioners that still rely on Freon have been in use for at least ten years. After approximately a decade of use, many AC models lose a considerable amount of their efficiency. Moreover, this is the time in their lifespans during which the need for repairs often arises with increasing frequency.
Both the R22 costs and maintenance needs of your old system will only continue to increase. If you’re noticing excessive costs with your system, it may be time for an upgrade.
Can I Still Get My R22 Air Conditioner Maintained?
Just as the industry standard for AC refrigerants has changed, the industry standard for air conditioners has changed as well. All new air conditioners available for your home are R401A air conditioners. This has been the case for more than 10 years.
Throughout this time, HVAC training has gradually moved away from R22 air conditioners and towards servicing R401A equipment. As such, the ability to work on an R22 air conditioner is becoming a highly specialized skill.
Is It Possible to Put R401A In My R22 Air Conditioner?
R401A and R22 are comparable in their effect. However, this is where their similarities stop. These two refrigerants have very different compositions.
R22 operates at far lower pressure levels than R401A does. The air conditioners that use R22 are not built to handle the significantly higher pressure that R401A subjects cooling equipment to.
Attempting to recharge your R22 AC system with R401A could prove both damaging and dangerous. With the related pressure increases, many air conditioner components would rupture or collapse. Sadly, the first to go would likely be the AC compressor.
It is possible to retrofit an R22 air conditioner to tolerate the pressure that using R401A entails. However, doing so would instantly void any active warranties, including any home warranties that cover HVAC equipment. It is also usually more expensive than just getting a new unit. Overall, we don’t recommend this option.
Should I Get Rid of My R22 Air Conditioner?
For many homeowners, upgrading to an R401A air conditioner isn’t an immediate concern. This may be the case for your home if your air conditioner is still in great shape. Despite this, your old R22 AC is just one refrigerant leak away from becoming a problem.
If you’re a particularly environment-conscious person, this upgrade should be a high priority. The task of ending the use of ozone-depleting HCFCs is the responsibility of governments, businesses, and private consumers.
Why R401A Is Actually Better for Air Conditioners
Surprisingly, in addition to being better for the natural environment, R402A also happens to be better for AC compressors. This starts with the fact that R401A air conditioners use a synthetic lubricant. This lubricant is far superior to the mineral oil that R22 air conditioners rely on. This synthetic lubricant helps minimize compressor wear and promotes optimum compressor performance.
R401A additionally has superior heat absorption abilities. This refrigerant both absorbs and releases more heat than Freon does. It also limits stress on AC compressors, prevents burnout, and extends their lifespans as a result.
Throughout the greater Sacramento, CA area, Gallaghers Plumbing, Heating and Air is a trusted provider of HVAC and plumbing services. If you’re ready to upgrade your R22 air conditioner to an AC system that uses R401A, we’ve got you covered. Give us a call now to schedule an appointment.