Freon (R-22) Ban and How It Affects Your Air Conditioner

Until a few years ago, many air conditioners sold in the United States used the refrigerant chlorodifluoromethane, usually referred to “R-22.” R-22 is one of a number of gases marketed under the brand name Freon, and has been commonly used as a coolant in air conditioners, heat pumps, and other appliances.

R-22 is an extremely effective coolant, which made it popular among HVAC manufacturers for many years. However, it was discovered that its causes damage to the ozone layer, and that it is also a powerful greenhouse gas. This is why, in 1987, the United States agreed to an international accord that would call for the reduction of HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbon) production, beginning in 2004. R-22 is one of the products affected by this agreement.

 

Obtaining R-22 for air conditioner servicing is extremely costly, and will soon become impossible.

Enforced reduction of the use of R-22 began in 2004, and in 2010 its use was banned in new HVAC systems. However, R-22 has continued to be produced since then in order to service existing air conditioners. Soon, this will no longer be the case.

In 2015, the next step in the R-22 phaseout plan was triggered, further reducing the permitted production and import of R-22. As a consequence, prices have quadrupled. This will only get worse, as the EPA’s final phasedown schedule for R-22 indicates that production and import of the coolant will be completely banned as of 2020.

For homeowners whose air conditioners and heat pumps use R-22, this raises the question, “What are my choices?” These options can be broken down as follows:

Hold off on HVAC replacement or upgrade for a few years.

You can simply wait for a few years. However, if your cooling system requires replacement of its R-22 supply in the meantime, it may cost you dearly. We currently charge more than $600 to fully recharge an air conditioner with R-22 (plus the cost of removing contaminants from the system), and full expect this cost to rise in the future. In a few years, it may cost thousands of dollars.

Upgrade your system to use a modern coolant.

The EPA has approved several new coolants, the most popular of which is R-410A, commonly marked under the brand name Puron. However, you can’t just pour R-410A into a cooling system that uses R-22. Some of the system’s parts will have to be replaced. In addition, while your system can be adapted to work with R-410A, you likely won’t see the same level of performance as before, resulting in higher energy bills.

Replace your HVAC system with a new EPA-friendly system.

The most advisable option is to simply replace your existing air conditioner or heat pump with a new system that is designed to use R-410A, or other permitted coolants. While this is the most costly option in the short term, the simple fact is that the other two options may well cost you more in the long run, and then you’ll have to replace your system anyways!

This is why Gilmore strongly advises that you replace your air conditioner or heat pump now. Replacing your system eliminates the risk of having to pay a fortune for R-22 replacement in a few years, or paying higher energy bills for the next several years due to reduced performance.

It really is the best time to replace your HVAC system, and as a bonus, you will immediately begin to enjoy savings on your energy bill! If you’d like to learn more about how replacing your air conditioner or heat pump can save you money, call the experts at Gilmore Heating & Air!

Save $250 Off of a New Air Conditioner!

Avoid future price hikes for replacing the R-22 in your old air conditioner by upgrading your system today! Click on the image below for an easy-to-print coupon entitling you to $250 off of a new A/C system from Gilmore Heating & Air, or click on this link for a PDF with a summary of the above information, and a copy of our coupon. But don’t wait too long, this offer expires at the end of 2016!

 

Maintenance Tips to Keep Your HVAC System Running Effectively

We’re getting towards the end of the summer, but here in Central California we still have another month or so of hot weather to get through. You’ll need to keep your air conditioner running strong for a few more weeks, and perhaps more importantly, you’ll want to make sure that your HVAC system as a whole is set for success, no matter what the weather.

Chances are that you’ve been running your air conditioner a lot the last few months, which means that conditions are primed for ductwork contamination.

 

Ductwork is one of the most vulnerable parts of any HVAC system. Moisture accumulation due to leaks can result in mold contamination, and debris buildup can choke off air circulation and eventually overwork your system.

Have you had Gilmore perform a checkup on your HVAC system? Then now is the time to give us a call at 888-868-2316, or send us a message with our appointment scheduler form to take advantage of our special promotional pricing before it ends!

Even if you’ve had your HVAC system checked recently, it’s always a good to have preventive maintenance program for your air ducts—whether or not you decide to have the air ducts in your home cleaned. It not only helps prevent contamination—it provides great peace of mind knowing that your indoor air quality is the best it can be.

8 Ways to Prevent Dirt from Entering Your HVAC System:

  1. Use the highest efficiency air filter recommended by the manufacturer of your heating and cooling system.
  2. Change filters regularly.
  3. If your filters become clogged, change them more frequently.
  4. Be sure you do not have any missing filters and that air cannot bypass filters through gaps around the filter holder.
  5. When having your heating and cooling system maintained or checked for other reasons, be sure to ask the service provider to clean cooling coils and drain pans.
  6. During construction or renovation work that produces dust in your home, seal off supply and return registers and do not operate the heating and cooling system until after cleaning up the dust.
  7. Remove dust and vacuum your home regularly. (Use a high efficiency vacuum (HEPA) cleaner or the highest efficiency filter bags your vacuum cleaner can take. Vacuuming can increase the amount of dust in the air during and after vacuuming as well as in your ducts).
  8. If your heating system includes in-duct humidification equipment, be sure to operate and maintain the humidifier strictly as recommended by the manufacturer.

How to Keep Moisture from Building up in your HVAC Ductwork

When water builds up in ducts, this can promote biological contamination, such as mold that is unhealthy and even dangerous to breathe. That’s why it’s very important to make sure there is no moisture in your air ducts by carefully controlling the environment.

Moisture can enter the duct system through leaks, or if the system has been improperly installed or serviced. Research suggests that condensation on or near air conditioner cooling coils is a major factor in moisture contamination. So, condensation or high relative humidity is an important indicator of the potential for mold growth on any type of duct.

3 Smart Tips for Controlling Moisture:

  • If you know something is wrong, don’t delay in getting your A/C system repaired. Promptly and properly repair any leaks or water damage.
  • Pay attention to cooling coils which remove water from the air—they can be a major source of moisture contamination of the system that can lead to mold growth. Make sure the condensate pan drains properly. The presence of substantial standing water and/or debris indicates a problem requiring immediate attention. Check any insulation near cooling coils for wet spots.
  • Make sure ducts are properly sealed and insulated in all non-air-conditioned spaces (e.g., attics and crawl spaces). This will help to prevent moisture due to condensation from entering the system and is important to make the system work as intended. To prevent water condensation, the heating and cooling system must be properly insulated.

If your AC system isn’t working at its peak capacity, it’s probably time for a checkup, especially as the weather starts to turn in the next couple months and increased moisture raises the odds of indoor air quality concerns. Talk to the HVAC experts at Gilmore Heating Air & Plumbing by giving us a call at 888-868-2316, or send us a message through our appointment form. We look forward to hearing from you!