Does Your AC System Use Freon?
A lot of people think that their air conditioning units work by pumping hot air out of their homes and then pumping cool air in. This thought process is relatively accurate, but instead of pumping “new” cold air into your home, the unit actually cools the hot air down to the desired temperature and then pumps it back through your house.
Your unit cools the hot air with a chemical generally referred to as refrigerant. The refrigerant is pumped through coils that pass through the hot air that has been pulled from inside your home, and the refrigerant inside of the coils pulls the heat from the air.
What is Freon?
Freon is a type of refrigerant, otherwise known as R-22, that is responsible for creating the cool air put out by your air conditioner. There is often confusion between Freon and other types of refrigerant, but Freon is the brand name of a refrigerant that was only manufactured before 2003.
Watch our video below for more information from ACS Home Services owner Josh Cabrera.
Is Freon illegal?
Why was Freon banned?
Freon, or R-22, is one of the most common types of refrigerant on the market, but it has been banned and is in the process of being phased out. In the mid-1970s, after some extensive research, the EPA discovered that Freon, a combination of hydrogen, carbon, fluorine, and chlorine (HCFC) was damaging the ozone layer.
Since this discovery was made, the EPA has worked with other international agencies on a project called the Montreal Protocol. This program was designed to create regulations and laws to rid the environment of all substances that have a substantial impact on the ozone layer.
When will R-22 be banned?
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, R-22 will become illegal on January 1, 2020. However, this is a gradual phase out of the product; while no new Freon will be produced, it will not be illegal to own an air conditioner that still uses it. If your AC ever needs a repair that involves adding more Freon, though, you may have a difficult time sourcing more, at which point you may need to consider replacing your system.
How will the Freon ban impact me?
Since 2010, the EPA and other agencies have phased out nearly 75 percent of HCFC refrigerants by limiting the manufacturing of how much companies could produce and consume. The reclamation and recycling of R-22 was still allowed, but it was no longer to be used in any newly produced appliances.
In 2015 agencies had reduced the production and consumption by nearly 90 percent, and there are no longer any reclamation or recycling exemptions.
By 2029 the use of R-22 will be reduced by 99.5 percent. New production of the refrigerant will be prohibited entirely, and everyone will be required to reduce consumption.
Luckily, there have been other refrigerant substitutes on the market since the early 90s, which will lessen the impact of the Freon ban for homeowners. But these refrigerants are generally more expensive because they aren’t as widely used. Over time, this transition will become more smooth and much less impactful on the HVAC market, so don’t panic.
Is Freon toxic?
Most homeowners wonder if Freon can make you sick. Freon is composed of fluorinated hydrocarbons, chemicals that aren't meant for human consumption. While mild exposure is relatively harmless, it can have adverse effects to your health.
Some symptoms of refrigerant poisoning include:
- Difficult breathing
- Frostbite (if in contact with skin)
- Chemical burn to the skin
If you or your family exhibits any of these symptoms, it's important to get prompt medical help.
Need Help With Your AC in Tampa?
If you have any questions regarding your current HVAC unit or would like to learn more about your HVAC unit options for the future, then don’t hesitate to contact the experts at ACS Home Services. Our team is available 24/7 for reliable AC services in Tampa. Our skilled Tampa AC technicians can check your cooling systems for any refrigerant leaks and can provide lasting AC repairs or replacements so that you can breathe easier.