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Schedule your Heat Pump replacement in Wyoming MI.
Schedule your Heat Pump replacement in Wyoming MI.

R-22 Phaseout

The R-22 Phaseout and You


  • As of January 1, 2020, R-22 production and importation is banned in the USA
  • R-22 has been shown to damage the ozone layer and has been phasing out since 1988
  • The falling supply of virgin product is driving up the costs of R-22 replacement
  • Installing a new AC that relies on 410a or R-32 is your best option
  • Tax breaks are available to help ease the pain of making the switch

Are you hobbling along on an AC unit circa 2009? Well, you might be in for a shock if it ever starts leaking.

On January 1, 2020, the production and importation of R-22 became illegal in the United States. This ban is the latest step in the EPA’s war against ozone-damaging compounds. While there’s no law against using an AC or heat pump that runs off R-22, your next repair call might have you choosing between footing an expensive refrigerant recharge and installing a brand new unit.

Keep reading to learn more about this change and its potential impact on you and your family.

What is R-22?

Air conditioning units use a chemical called a refrigerant to cool your home or business.  Typically found in a fluid or gaseous state, these compounds absorb heat from the surrounding environment to help cool your home. The idea of using a liquid to accomplish this first arose after research was done on the powers of evaporation. The first “true” AC unit was developed by William Carrier in 1905. Prohibitively expensive, it relied on cold water to beat the heat.

In 1928,  a group of scientists created the chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) class of refrigerants. Their unique, non-flammable formulation made them a shoo-in for period AC units. One of the compounds springing from this discovery was R-22 (aka freon). Though formerly a darling of the HVAC world, it soon became a target of environmental initiatives like the Montreal Protocol.

Why was “Freon” Phased Out?

While an effective refrigerant, R-22’s impact on the environment is impossible to deny. Like almost all refrigerants in its class, it contains hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)—a group of chemicals determined to be dangerous to the environment. When they come into contact with ultraviolet (UV) radiation in the atmosphere, they release ozone-destroying chlorine items. Though they eventually sink back into the lower atmosphere, this sinking can contribute to the formation of acid rain. Substances that negatively impact the ozone layer, like R-22, are called ozone-damaging substances or ODS.

Without the ozone layer keeping out harmful UV rays, our planet would be uninhabitable. That's why much of the world decided to start phasing out HCFCs like R-22 in 1988. While most contractors currently use R-410a, there has been chatter about phasing that out as well. Though it poses no danger to the atmosphere, it may contribute to global warming.

What Does the Ban on R-22 Mean for Me?

  • Though unscrupulous HVAC contractors will tell you otherwise, this phaseout doesn’t mean you have to throw out your existing HVAC unit. Only the production and importation of R-22 is illegal, not the continued use of it. 
  • With no new stock available, supply, demand and the cost of recycling R-22 will continue to drive up its cost. A few people report paying as much as $2000 to recharge their unit.
  • After the ban, replacing your old unit may be the most cost-effective option. 

How Can I Tell if My Unit Uses R-22?

If your unit was manufactured before 2010, it likely uses R-22. Most units installed after 2010, will not. To confirm whether this is the case, you’ll need to look at the nameplate on your outdoor condenser. The type of refrigerant is typically easy to spot. If it’s worn away, or you can’t decipher the HVAC jargon, give us a call at (616) 458-7304. 

It Looks Like My Unit Uses R-22 and it’s Leaking. What are My Options?


Most cooling contractors can repair R-22 units. Unlike you, they also have access to recycled stock they can use to replace any lost refrigerant. But, with recharging these units costing as much as $2,000, it might be cheaper to install a new unit.

If you do forge ahead with an AC repair or charge, make sure your contractor fixes the leak first! Otherwise, you’re wasting money.


In almost every case, you’ll want to take steps to replace the unit.  While air conditioners can last 25 years, most of the ones that use R-22 are already well past the halfway point. We’ll explore the benefits of AC replacement below.


Some contractors will offer to update your current AC so it’s compliant with R-401a or the preferred R32. This is something to avoid. Not only does this void your warranty or make your unit less efficient, but it also means replacing the main components of your unit. In other words,  it’s simpler and more cost-effective to replace the unit.

The Multiple Benefits of Replacing Your R-22 Unit

Installing a new AC unit or heat pump can help you

  • Save Money: Your wallet will thank you for making the switch. New units are about 20 percent more efficient than those produced 10 or so years ago. Over time, this can add up to a lot of money shaved off your electric bills. Additionally, to help soothe the sting of installing a new unit, the federal government is offering tax breaks to people who make the switch. You can visit ACCA to calculate how much you can save.
  • Stay Cool All Summer Long: If your unit is old, that means it’ll break down eventually—probably when you need it most. If you try to replace it in the middle of summer, you’ll struggle to get an appointment. By being proactive and replacing your unit in advance, you can avoid unnecessary suffering.
  • Feel Like a Superhero: By trashing your old unit, you’re helping save the planet and preserve the ozone layer.  Rest assured, the cooling specialists at Schaafsma Heating and Cooling will dispose of it appropriately.

Looking to Retire an Old Air Conditioner in the Grand Rapids Area?

With all the benefits that a new unit provides, there’s no reason to put the AC upgrade off! Schaafsma Heating and Cooling offers affordable financing options to help make the switch easy. If you have any questions or concerns about making the switch, or need a quote on an AC repair, contact us at (616) 458-7304.

Schaafsma Heating and Cooling
285 Dodge Ct Ste E
Comstock Park, MI 49321
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Furnace Repair Service Grand Rapids MI | Schaafsma Heating and Cooling
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