Refrigerant is a vital part of your air conditioning system, used to move heat out of and into the air. Lots of air conditioning systems used to use R22 refrigerant, but you can’t use these from new anymore.
Plenty of air conditioners still use R22 – the one in your property could be one of them. Here are the essentials you need to know about R22 rules and what to do with your R22 refrigerant system.
What is R22 gas?
R22 is an HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbon) that in the past was a frequently used air conditioning refrigerant. Lots of air conditioning systems installed before 2004 use R22.
However, the UK government started to phase its use out, as it has a high and damaging ODP (Ozone Depletion Potential) level.
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), including R22 refrigerant, were banned for use in new air conditioning systems in the early 2000s. And in 2010 the law changed again, stating that you couldn’t add new, ‘virgin’ R22 to existing systems, only recycled or reclaimed R22.
Today, you’re not allowed to add new, reclaimed or recycled R22 to air conditioning systems.
What are you allowed to do with air conditioning systems that still use R22 refrigerant?
Don’t worry – if your air conditioning system uses R22 gas, you can still use it. It’s also still possible to service it to ensure it’s efficient and safe.
But, you can no longer refill R22 refrigerant installations or replace parts in them. So, when your system needs either or both of these things, you have 2 choices:
1. Convert your system to another refrigerant
Changing your R22 refrigerant system to run off a different gas can be a good solution. This is due to the fact that:
- If you’re particularly reliant on your climate control it reduces disruption
- It tends to be cheaper than replacing your entire air conditioning system
Converting your air conditioning system consists of removing and replacing particular parts, taking out the R22 refrigerant and cleaning the system. Then a different refrigerant is added, such as R410.
Adapting your system to run using a different refrigerant is only worth it if the type of system you have makes it fairly easy. It’ll also only be financially sensible if your system still has quite a bit of working life left.
2. Completely replace the system
Completely replacing your R22 refrigerant air conditioning system is another option. This can work well because:
- A new, modern system is cheaper and easier to maintain and service
- It’ll probably be significantly more energy efficient than your existing one
- With a more modern system you’ll get more precise controls and features to meet your heating and cooling needs
Replacing an air conditioning system can be quite a disruptive and sometimes expensive process. But, it can be a great solution for reliable and long-lasting climate control.
How do I know what’s best for my R22 refrigerant system?
It’s most sensible to replace or convert your R22 refrigerant system before it stops working. This option will give you control over when you get the work done, and avoid you being left without air conditioning unexpectedly.
If you’re not sure whether to go for system conversion or replacement, it’s important to factor in your air conditioning needs, budget and the age of your current system.
If your existing system is pretty old, which it probably is if it uses R22, it’s likely to be cheaper in the long term to replace rather than convert. However, if you don’t have much of an initial budget, conversion could be more suitable for you.
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