R-22 Phaseout: Finding the Right Solution for Your Facility

As our industry continues the phase out of R-22 coolant it’s time to plan the right solution for your facility

Tips for informed decisions.

As a facility or operations manager or building owner, you’ll want to consider several points in your decision process, such as service life, cost, energy efficiency, performance, reliability, and the refrigerant used. The team at Campbell Mechanical is ready to help you make informed choices when it comes to R-22 phaseout and assessing your options for servicing, repairing, retrofitting, or fully replacing an existing refrigeration or AC system or commercial refrigeration equipment.

It is important to work with a knowledgeable, qualified, and reliable HVAC/refrigerant system service company regarding R-22. Technicians are required to have EPA Section 608 certification to service equipment containing R-22.

Let’s take a closer look at your three options for the R-22 phaseout.

In general, owners of R-22 refrigerant and/or air conditioning systems have three choices:

  1. Replace your R-22 based equipment with a modern, more energy efficient system
  2. Retrofit your existing refrigeration or AC system to use a new refrigerant
  3. Continue maintenance of your system until breakdown

The R-22 Refrigerant Supply Issue

Today it is becoming increasingly challenging to source R-22 (or any earth-friendly alternatives) as the HVAC industry faces a range of global supply chain issues. And because the R-22 phaseout began decades ago and availability of the product has been declining significantly over the years, R-22 refrigerant prices and related repair costs are rising

However, the phaseout period provides time for your facility’s leadership to plan for the changes and either retrofit your older systems to use a new, ozone-friendly refrigerant or proactively upgrade to new air conditioning equipment when it’s time to replace your outdated refrigeration and/or HVAC system.

As R-22 cannot be manufactured or imported – it is increasingly difficult and expensive to source R22. As a result, R-22 cost increases are anticipated in 2021 and 2022.

As a Linc Service contractor, Campbell participates in refrigerant banking programs that can reclaim recovered R-22 into AHRI 700 specifications at a purification facility. Once purified, it is stored until needed to help avoid paying mounting costs as R-22 is phased out. We also work with vendors to receive discounts on R-22 alternatives, helping to ensure that our clients’ facility equipment is compliant as well as budget conscious.

R-22 Phaseout Background – Fast Facts

  • The dangers of older refrigerants, such as R-22, to the Earth’s ozone layer have been known since the 1970s
  • The “production” of R-22 is being phased out – not the “use” of R-22 (R-22 is no longer produced or imported as of January 2020.)
  • Refrigeration and AC systems containing R-22 may continue to be serviced
  • Reclaimed, recovered, or recycled R-22 can be used for service and maintenance of existing refrigeration or AC systems for the life of the equipment
  • It is illegal to intentionally release any refrigerant when making repairs. Technicians must use refrigerant recovery equipment and take efforts to avoid releases of refrigerant during service
  • The most common alternative to R-22 (also known as Freon or HCFC) is R-410A, a non-ozone-depleting HFC refrigerant blend
Existing equipment can still be used, but it’s time to adapt and look ahead.

Replace Your Outdated Equipment With a Modern System that Uses New Refrigerants 

Replacing your entire system might be the most cost-effective solution delivering the most benefits long term.

Choosing to replace your refrigeration or AC equipment proactively – on a timeframe you choose – can eliminate the risk of unplanned, expensive emergency repairs. Newer refrigeration and air conditioning systems are more efficient, providing you with immediate savings on energy and operations costs. (Additionally, tax breaks may be available for capital improvements and energy efficiency upgrades.)

Other benefits of replacing your refrigeration or AC system include updating to the latest technology features and design innovations that deliver benefits such as maximum cooling capacity and comfort conditions for your building’s occupants. In fact, considering the improvements seen in just the past 10 years, you could see a significant savings on your facility’s energy costs since you last installed your refrigeration or HVAC system.

Retrofit Your Refrigeration or AC System to Use a New Refrigerant

It may be possible to retrofit or convert your older refrigeration or air conditioning system to use a newer refrigerant. This may be a viable option especially if your equipment has been properly maintained and is in good operating condition. And, once it’s converted to use newer refrigerant, future repairs that call for refrigerant replacement should be more cost efficient because newer refrigerants may be obtained at a lower cost than R-22.

However, retrofitting may not be possible for every refrigeration or AC system, nor in all facility situations. Our HVAC technicians can determine if your older system is compatible with certain newer refrigerants.

A retrofit benefit: delivering a short-term solution.

Going with a retrofit now might be a good fit with your long-term objectives. For example, a retrofit can be put in place as you plan for the future of your facility, anticipate changing needs, and budget for an investment in a complete, state-of-the-art refrigeration or HVAC system.

Campbell, Inc. Can Help

The options for approaching the R-22 refrigerant phaseout can be complex, and every HVAC system and facility are different. The best approach is to have a Campbell HVAC technician examine your system and provide recommendations to suit your situation.

And if you hope to postpone purchasing a new refrigeration or AC system, then proper maintenance of your existing R-22 based equipment is critical throughout its anticipated service life. Proper maintenance helps prevent refrigerant leaks, and if leaks are occurring your technician can address it early.

At Campbell, we advise our customers to continue preparing for the next milestone of the R-22 and R142b phaseout. This will occur on January 1, 2030 when a ban on the remaining production and import of all HCFCs will go into effect. (According to guidelines from the EPA.)

Contact the trusted experts at Campbell, Inc. to develop a R-22 phaseout plan for your building’s refrigerant or HVAC system – and be ready for a greener, more energy-efficient future!


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