Most of us know that refrigerant is the substance that is key to the cooling process, but few of us have ever seen it. It flows mysteriously through our HVAC systems, absorbing heat from our homes’ interiors as a cool, low pressure liquid, and then is pumped outdoors as a hot, high pressure gas, where the heat is exhausted by a fan, then does it all over again.
That’s more than most homeowners know about refrigerant. But because laws governing refrigerant have changed in recent years, it’s important to understand them due to the impact they will have on your budget. Here are a few things to keep in mind concerning the maintenance and eventually, the replacement of your air conditioner.
R22 vs. R410A
If you have an older air conditioner, it probably uses R22, the refrigerant that is being phased out due to the harm it causes our planet’s ozone layer. Most newer air conditioners are designed to use R410A, a refrigerant that is not as harmful to the environment.
If your A/C develops a refrigerant leak, you will need to fix the leak and recharge the refrigerant. Allowing refrigerant to go below the recommended level will prevent your A/C from cooling properly and can even lead to a damaged compressor. If your A/C uses R22, you can have it charged, but because supplies of R22 are dwindling fast it will cost you considerably. If the leak occurs after 2020 comes around, R22 will no longer be sold, so your R22-using A/C will either need to be retrofitted for R410A — which is not always possible — or you will be facing an A/C replacement.
Laws Governing Refrigerant
Because refrigerant, even R410A, is hazardous to the environment, there are some laws governing the use of any refrigerant. A few to keep in mind:
- Only licensed HVAC companies can purchase refrigerant.
- Technicians should recapture and properly dispose of refrigerant.
- Refrigerant leaks should be repaired within 30 days.
- It’s illegal to intentionally vent refrigerant.
For more about refrigerant, contact Powers Heating and Air. We serve Peachtree City and the surrounding area.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Peachtree City, Georgia and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 770-487-2040.