Air Conditioning System with R22 refrigerant in 2023: Replacement or Repair?

r22 replacement

Jake Smith, Online Marketing Strategist
Technically Reviewed by Jake Smith, Online Marketing Strategist on Feb 27, 2023 | Written by Alpha Mechanical Editorial Contributors

If you have an R22 refrigerant (commonly called R22 Freon) HVAC system that is failing, you may be wondering whether to repair or replace the system? In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each option to help you make an informed decision. We’ll discuss the environmental impact of R22, the cost of replacement refrigerants, what refrigerant replaces R22, the long-term solutions for replacing an old system, and more. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of what option is right for your specific situation. So, whether you’re a homeowner or a commercial business owner, or just curious about the replacement of R22 freon. Keep reading to learn the value of repairing or replacing your failing R22 refrigerant system.

Identifying whether or not your system uses R22 Refrigerant.

If you have an outdated system that is over 15 years old, it is most likely it has R22 refrigerant. The easiest way to determine what refrigerant your AC system uses is by checking your system’s label on the outdoor unit. The nameplate typically contains information about the type of refrigerant used, as well as other important details about the unit. You can also contact a licensed HVAC technician who can provide an assessment of your system and let you know what type of refrigerant system holds. A professional can assess the refrigerant pressure during running operation. By understanding the type of refrigerant the system has can better prepare for any repairs or upgrades your system may need in the near future.

Freon R22 Current Disadvantages.

R22 refrigerant, also known as Chlorodifluoromethane, is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerant that has been widely used in air conditioning and refrigeration systems for many decades. But following bans on this refrigerant, many homeowners find themselves needing cost effective answers to their R22 refrigerant system. Despite its pure chemical substance and ease of use in the trade, R22 refrigerant has disadvantages that have led to its phase-out demise.

Environmental Impact

One of the most significant disadvantages of R22 refrigerant is its impact on the environment. The refrigerant is known to have a high global warming potential that depletes the ozone layer and thus causes accelerated global warming. In addition, R22 refrigerant is highly flammable, making it a potential safety hazard for the outdoors and indoors if it leaks into the space.

Product Price

Another disadvantage of R22 is the current high cost and lack of availability. With the phase-out of the refrigerant, the price of Freon R22 replacement has increased significantly, making repairs and services very expensive. Good luck finding R22 refrigerant. It can be very difficult due to its restricted supply, which can result in delays in repairing or servicing a system that uses the refrigerant. During summer months these delays seem to always increase due to demand.

Energy Efficiency

Freon R22 also has poor energy efficiency compared to more recent hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants. The refrigerant is less efficient at transferring heat than newer chlorine-free refrigerants, which means the system uses more energy to achieve the same level of cooling. This factor is also due to the materials used in the manufacturing process. Currently manufacturers use aluminum coils which have a better heat transfer rate efficiency compared to copper coils. Thus not all blame should be attributed to the HCFC refrigerants lack of transfer efficiency. Current research has improved both the material heat transfer efficiency coupled with more environmentally space refrigerants.

What happens when R22 is Phased Out?

In 2020 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated a 100% phase out of R-22 refrigerant from the market. Side note, the phase out has been happening gradually for a decade already, so this is not a surprise to many professionals. Click here to get more info about HVAC myths to avoid. But it has left many homeowners with R-22 air conditioning and heat pump systems wondering what to do with their aging units. So, what are your options if you have an R-22 refrigerant system, and what refrigerant can replace R-22? You can either continue using it or replace the system. However, the decision depends on various factors.

If you choose to keep using your current system, be prepared to pay a premium for R22 refrigerant, currently $300-$700 a pound. As the supply decreases, prices have skyrocketed, and the substance has become scarce. Furthermore, if your system develops a leak, you’ll have to keep paying to top off the system so it cools the house and compressor effectively. If the refrigerant is low in the system it harms the compressor. The compressor will overheat and shut down prematurely. To avoid this the refrigerant in the system has to be within a certain range to work efficiently. It cannot be low (undercharged) or too high (overcharged).

On the other hand, if you decide to replace your system, it is an investment that will require your consideration. Replacing your R22 system with a newer one that uses environmentally friendly refrigerants such as R410A may be the best option, 10 year equipment warranty, and better efficiency, no repairs for at least 10 years. While the upfront costs may be large, the benefits overshadow the upfront cost. Plus, you’ll save on energy bills and avoid the ever increasing repairs costs.

Homeowners with R22 refrigerant systems must consider all options before making a decision. It’s important to note that continuing to use R22 refrigerant will become increasingly expensive and eventually impossible. Replacing your system may be the more cost-effective and environmentally friendly option in the long run.

What is R22 Refrigerant Being Replaced With?

While EPA has implemented a ban on the production and import of R22 in the US, there are many modern alternatives to an R22 system, with each having its own pros and cons. An HVAC professional will be able to diagnose your current system and recommend a popular R22 alternative, fitting your replacement to suit your needs best. So what replaced R22 refrigerant? Some common refrigerant alternatives include R410A, R407C, MO99, and RS-44b. Their pros and cons include:


Discovering R22 refrigerant replacement cost.

When it comes to system replacement cost, there are many factors at play. Customers ask me all the time, can we replace the R22 outdoor unit only and leave the existing indoor coil, or vice versa. Since new equipment sold is not R22 refrigerant compatible, it is not possible to install 410A new equipment with old type of refrigerant. The whole system needs to be replaced to work properly.
Another question we get asked, can we convert our existing system with a new 410A refrigerant. The answer is no, because the oil in the compressor and other refrigerant components in the system are only R22 compatible. It is possible to convert R22 refrigerant with replacement refrigerants mentioned above. The issue with these options is that your system is at the end of its life and you’ll be spending money on failing parts. Many times your system will become a money pit at this stage.

For example, let us say there is a refrigerant leak in the system. The technician assesses the problem and finds the leak location. On average a residential HVAC system holds about 5-10 pounds of refrigerant. Welding the leak, pressuring checking, and Vacuuming the system. The cost to repair the leak and charge the system with R22 refrigerant will cost around $4000 to $6000. But you’ll say, I can use the R22 replacement refrigerants. Sure, then your cost will drop to $1800-$2800. This is assuming that no parts need to be replaced. As the system gets older the cost grows higher. There are much more variables that need to be taken into consideration when it comes to repairing a leak.

Ultimately, the cost of replacing a functioning R22 system will depend on your specific situation. It is best to consult with a qualified HVAC professional to get an accurate estimate. Keep in mind that while the upfront cost may seem high, replacing your R22 system can lead to significant long-term savings on repairs and energy costs, as well as reducing your impact on the environment.

Not sure which HVAC Company to call?

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Consider Alpha Mechanical

Still wondering if your system needs a new system replacement? After you’ve considered repair vs. replacement, reach out to local professionals at Alpha Mechanical to bring your comfort system back to life! Alpha Mechanical services all brands of equipment in Sacramento and surrounding areas.

We offer the best quality results to all of our customers. We are a certified HVAC dealer and servicer, ready to help solve any air conditioning and heating related issue, including R22 refrigerant system replacement. If you’re ready to take the next step with your heating and cooling systems, Alpha mechanical can offer solutions that will provide you with peace of mind and comfort with whatever option you choose.

Final Thoughts

Now that you understand the importance of repair vs. replacement on your R22 refrigerant system, you should be able to move forward with the next step.Contact a local HVAC professional at Alpha Mechanical, and figure out whether repair or replacement are better for your HVAC system, and which option will help save money and peace of mind in the long haul.

Contact us 916.848.5980 and we will get your HVAC system back online.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you put 410a in a R-22 system?

Using 410A in a R22 system is NOT recommended as it can cause serious system damage. With different physical and chemical properties, the different properties and function of 410A can seriously damage a R22 system. The system will not work properly.

How much does it cost to replace an R-22 compressor?

The cost of replacing a R22 varies, considering factors like brand, unit size, installation complexity, and region. Considering the phase-out of R22, they are harder to find and often more expensive than newer refrigerants. On average, including compressor cost, labor, and any additional materials needed, the cost can range from ~$2,500 to ~$6,000 or more.

Can you replace an R22 refrigerant compressor?

Yes, it is possible to replace an R22 compressor, but with R22 being phased out and no longer being produced, it will be difficult and expensive to find. If your compressor fails, you have a few options:

  1. Retrofit the system: Retrofitting a system with replacement refrigerant. This involves replacing the compressor and any other non-compatible system components.
  2. Replace the system: Replacing the system involves replacing all components of your system to a newer-age refrigerant, ensuring all parts of the system stay up to date and energy-efficient. While more expensive up-front, it will save you money in the long run, and avoid rising costs of old refrigerants.

Consult with a licensed HVAC technician at Alpha Mechanical to help determine the best course of action for your specific situation. We can evaluate your system and provide the best recommendation for your needs.

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