If you have older air-conditioning equipment, there are regulatory changes that you must plan for.

Most air conditioning units older than 10 years use a refrigerant called R-22 that’s commonly identified as Freon and is stated by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) as HCFC. This refrigerant was introduced in the 1950s and became the leading air conditioning refrigerant for residential and commercial use. In 1987 Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) were identified as an ozone-depleting substance and a phase-out strategy was formed.

What does this mean to you?

As of January 1, 2020, it will be illegal to manufacture or import R-22 refrigerant into Canada or North America. That means your equipment using R-22 will no longer be able to be repaired if the unit has a refrigerant issue. Things like compressors, evaporators, condensers and metering devices will not be able to be replaced on a unit that contains R-22. The unit will need to be replaced on a failure of any of these parts.

The industry made the switch from R-22 to R-410a, which you may recognize by the brand name Puron, quite a few years ago. The manufactures of air conditioning units stopped making any new R-22 units in January 2010. So, those of you with air conditioning units installed after 2010 should be ok.

There are some options to people with older systems.

You may have heard of “drop-in” replacements for R-22. We strongly recommend against this option. Usually, a client who is uneasy about the cost of replacing their system seeks out an alternative, and it might sound like an easy solution. It often costs more money, and always voids the manufacturer warranty. The truth about “drop-ins” is that there is no “drop-in” solution where you can simply swap out the refrigerant. The phrase “drop-in” is suggesting retrofitting an air conditioner with another refrigerant, which when done correctly can cost as much, or more, money than installing a new unit that uses R-410a. This is because different refrigerants operate at different pressures and temperatures, they require parts that are designed for that refrigerant. In short R-410a can not be used to replace R-22 in a system.

Systems that are currently using R-22 will need to be replaced and are typically at the end of their life expectancy.

Currently, we are recommending that all equipment using R-22 be scheduled for yearly cleaning of condensers and evaporators. As well as an increased inspection of the air conditioning system to identify how soon they will need to be replaced before they become an issue.