What to consider for the coming year
As we approach 2020, R22 (Freon) will be set to expire or use in the USA. Many facilities with outdated equipment won’t be able to purchase R22 to replenish a leaky system. For many years R22 was the HVAC industry standard until manufacturers began switching over R410a. The R22 refrigerant has been phased out due to the negative effect it as on the ozone layer. The scientific community has known since the 1970’s that Freon has a negative impact on the planet. The US Environmental Protection Agency has set the date of January 1, 2020, for R22 to longer to be manufactured or imported in the US. This poses a problem for how this will impact your commercial HVAC system.
Beginning in 2020 it will very expensive and difficult to obtain R22. This means there are only a few choices on how system owners can deal with the issue. Now is the time to plan on the correct path to deal with the deadline.
The Three Options to Address the Problem
- The first option is to hold on to the current system and hope it doesn’t breakdown anytime soon. If the unit has been well maintained and is good shape there is a possibility a unit using R22 could run for several months or even years. However, system failure during a heatwave or during busy install times could be catastrophic. Your facility could experience extended downtime while the system is being serviced or replaced.
- Secondly, retrofitting a unit to handle new and more efficient refrigerants could be an option, but this could also be costly. Retrofitting is the process of converting your system to handle different refrigerants. Finding someone willing and able to retrofit a system could be another obstacle. If the unit is leaking refrigerant it could be difficult to find a technician willing
and able to perform the retrofit. Additionally, not every system is subject to retrofitting or cost-effective if the unit is in poor condition. Also, if you have a fairly new unit, retrofitting may void your warranty.
- Replacing the unit with a brand-new HVAC unit is by far the best option. Although replacing a system can be a huge endeavor as well as costly. There are currently new tax rules in effect as of January 1, 2018: 26 U.S. Code § 179, that will allow for the offsetting of the cost of the equipment and installation. Additionally, you can plan and schedule the install and not wait until replacement becomes a crisis situation. An added bonus to HVAC replacement is the positive impact it will have on the environment.