You can look for many different signs that you have an over-the-hill air conditioner ready for a replacement. General age is a good measure: most ACs don’t last far beyond 15 years. You can also watch for declines in efficiency that create higher electric bills, or a run of expensive repairs that indicate a system approaching the end of the line.
One sign it’s time to repair your AC that is absolute is if it’s an R-22 unit. If you have an R-22 air conditioning system, arrange to have a replacement put in as soon as you can—otherwise, it will force you to replace it at some point when it’s much less convenient for you.
What’s an R-22 Unit?
Sounds like a droid from the Star Wars universe, doesn’t it? It’s a bit less technically advanced than that. In fact, that’s the problem!
R-22 is the name for a refrigerant blend used in air conditioning systems for decades. Its brand name is Feron, which unfortunately has caused confusion as the name is often loosely applied to all refrigerants used in air conditioners, freezers, and refrigerators. R-22 is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), and because it creates ozone-depleting gases, it has been phased out of use in the US and Europe. The phaseout started in 2010 with a ban on the production of more R-22, which also banned the manufacture of air conditioners using it. Existing stockpiles of recycled R-22 could still be used to repair air conditioner units. The phaseout was completed in January 2020, and R-22 can no longer be used for repairs.
What This Means for You
You may not know if you have an R-22 air conditioner or not. If your AC was installed after 2010 from a reputable contractor, then it almost certainly doesn’t use R-22 but its successor refrigerant, the safer R-410A (also known by its brand name, Puron). If your air conditioner is older than this, check the information plate on the back of the condenser cabinet. It will have a listing for refrigerant which will tell you if the AC uses R-22. (Sometimes it will be listed as “HCFC-22” or just “22”.)
Although no law forbids you from continuing to use an R-22 air conditioner, you’re better off having the unit replaced at the first opportunity. The system will already be at least ten years old, probably more, and the danger of refrigerant leaks for a system this old is high. If refrigerant leaks, technicians cannot legally repair it by adding refrigerant, and R-22 air conditioners cannot use the new R-410A refrigerant. At that point, you’ll have to replace the air conditioner—so it’s far better to get ahead of this problem and have a new AC put in now on a timetable you set, not the AC.
Not only will you now have a system that can have standard air conditioning repair in Burbank, CA, but the new R-410A air conditioner will run at a higher efficiency than your old unit did even when it was new.
If you have any questions about your air conditioning system and its refrigerant, feel free to call us!
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