What the R-22 Freon Ban Means for Chicagoland Homes

By Four Seasons Heating, Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electric - September 6, 2019
R22 freon cylinders

If you live in the Chicagoland area, you’ve probably heard about the upcoming ban on R-22, or the refrigerant more commonly known as Freon. Following January 1, 2020, the production and importation of Freon will become illegal in the U.S.

Historically, Freon has been utilized across the world for a number of different products with cooling properties, including refrigerators and air conditioners. Because the chemical component has ozone-damaging properties, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken action to prevent its use in the U.S.

Most HVAC professionals have been phasing out Freon from customers’ homes over the past several years, including Four Seasons. Many of our customers in Chicago will not be affected by the Freon ban. However, if you own an air conditioner that is over ten years old, you may be at risk when the law goes into effect.

I Think My Air Conditioner Contains Freon. What Should I Do?

For starters, don’t panic. Though the production of Freon will become illegal in 2020, the law does not require you to replace your air conditioner. You can still use your A/C for as long as you like, provided it doesn’t break down.

Limited amounts of Freon will still be available in the U.S. after 2020, but since the supply is slowly running out, the cost of obtaining it will rise. After the law goes into effect, most HVAC providers will not be able to obtain Freon if it is needed for air conditioner repairs.

With this in mind, you have three options when it comes to the R-22 refrigerant ban and your air conditioner.

First, you can continue using your A/C until the need for a Freon replacement arises. Unless your air conditioner develops a Freon leak, there is no need to replace the refrigerant and therefore no need to replace the unit. If you continue to get your yearly A/C tune-ups, your air conditioner will remain healthy and efficient throughout its lifetime and you can continue using it until you need a new unit.

The second choice, should you need a Freon refill, is to obtain the refrigerant from the dwindling market. Over time, this option will not be possible, but there will still be Freon available in the U.S until it runs out completely. However, it’s important to note that Freon is already becoming more and more expensive, and the cost is only going to rise when the law goes into effect.

If your A/C breaks down and you are unable to afford a Freon refill, this leads us into the third option: replacing your air conditioner entirely. If you own an air conditioner that contains Freon, it’s inevitable that you will have to replace your A/C in the future. Your unit will either get too old or it will develop a refrigerant leak that can’t be repaired. Investing in a new system proactively will give your home the assurance you need when Freon is no longer available in the U.S. Buying a new air conditioner might also be more cost-effective than repairing and continuing to use the existing unit.

The ban of R-22 is something you should start preparing for if your unit runs on Freon, but it’s not going to have a catastrophic impact upon your household. Our technicians at Four Seasons are happy to evaluate your unit and provide suggestions and solutions on how to handle the upcoming ban. Whether it’s sizing a new unit for your home or cleaning your existing air conditioner, we can find the right solution for your family.

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