Right now, the only thing that starts with “R2” that you’re probably thinking about is R2-D2. We don’t blame you, since we’re excited about the new Star Wars film as well… and it’s opening in only 11 days from now! (Not that we’re counting down or anything.)
However, there is another “R2” to think about now, especially if you have an old heat pump or air conditioner in your home. It’s called R-22, and it refers to an old type of chemical blend used for refrigerant. The name Freon is often used to refer to all refrigerants, but Freon is actually a brand name. There are multiple different refrigerant blends used in refrigeration equipment. If you have an air conditioning system or heat pump that is well over a decade old, it may use R-22. In that case, it’s time you replaced with a new unit.
Why? What’s wrong with R-22?
The issue with R-22 is that the U.S. government is phasing it out. R-22 is an ozone-depleting gas, and the U.S. government started a phaseout program for it in 1999 with the goal of eventually eliminating its use altogether. As of 2010, R-22 can no longer be used for any new equipment. That means it’s possible your AC or heat pump uses R-22 if you purchased it more than six years ago.
You can still have service for a system that uses R-22—at least for the moment. The next step in the phaseout will cease the manufacture of R-22 altogether, so you won’t be able to have the refrigerant in the system recharged if it develops leaks. This will make other repairs more difficult as well.
Since most ACs last between 10–15 years, it’s probably already time for you to have a new air conditioner or heat pump installed. New systems use R-410A, which is not only better for the ozone layer, it helps make the systems more efficient. And you won’t have to worry about finding repairs for it when it encounters problems.