The refrigerant known as R22 is a commonly used chlordiflouromethane found in air conditioning systems and several other refrigeration applications. R22 refrigerant is now banned for continued use due to proof that it can contribute to damage of the ozone layer. As of Dec. 31, 2009, it became required by law that any system that was using R22 and became faulty be replaced.
What is R22
R22 is a type of gas that has been widely used in air conditioning and refrigeration systems. However, it was recently added to the list of substances that are known for causing ozone depletion. Because of this R22 is now being phased out of service and new air conditioning and refrigeration equipment is no longer allowed to use this type of gas.
Obligation of the Owner
As concerns over R22 continue to increase, so does the obligation of owners and operators of equipment that still uses R22. Owners of equipment in commercial applications are now responsible for checking for leaks, record keeping and labeling of equipment using this gas type. Failure to follow and fulfill these obligations can lead to fines.
Current refrigeration and air conditioning equipment that uses R22 gas can still be used. However, the owner of this equipment will no longer be able to purchase additional tanks of gas to keep the conditioners running. Recycled R22 can be used until 2014, but only for maintenance purposes. If a system were to need a complete recharge of R22 gas, it would be considered obsolete and have to be replaced as the law prohibits any new use of R22 gas.
As remaining supplies of R22 start to run out, prices are expected to rise drastically. The expense of replacing existing equipment with new environmentally approved equipment may soon be less than the expense of purchasing more R22 to maintain current equipment. These price increases are expected to affect individual households the heaviest.
As R22 is phased out, new ozone friendly alternatives are being introduced to the refrigerant market. The most common alternative is R410A, which is a mixture of hydrofluorocarbons that do not contribute to the ozone depletion. However, they are expected to have other environmental effects and are still being researched. There are other alternatives in the final stages of approval as well; however, they have not yet received approval for residential applications.