if you haven't purchased a new HVAC system within the past 10 years, then chances are it still relies on R-22 refrigerant. That also means you'll be impacted by the EPA's ongoing efforts to phase out the ozone-harming refrigerant. After January 2020, all manufacture of R-22 within the United States will come to a complete halt. The eventual phaseout will also make it harder – not to mention more expensive – to maintain your current A/C system. Sooner or later, you'll have to consider your options for handling the end of R-22.
Convert Your A/C System from R-22 to R-410a
If you're not ready to let go of your current air conditioning system just yet, one of your options includes a complete conversion from R-22 to R-410a. R-410a is widely used in modern residential HVAC systems due to its efficiency and performance. However, the refrigerant is completely incompatible with R-22 due to its higher operating pressures and lubricant needs.
A complete conversion to R-410a isn't for the faint of heart. Not only will you need a new condensing unit and cooling coils that can handle the increased pressures, but you may need new plumbing between the condensing unit and air handler, in addition to other changes to make the conversion work. A typical A/C conversion can also cost as much as purchasing and installing a brand-new system, making this option less appealing to those in search of savings.
A successful conversion to R-410a also depends heavily on your existing A/C system's condition. If your unit has experienced a lot of wear and tear throughout its life, then it may not be an ideal conversion candidate.
Consider Using a "Drop-In" Alternative
Using a so-called "drop-in" refrigerant offers a cheaper alternative to overhauling your existing A/C unit to use R-410a, you can instead use a so-called "drop-in" refrigerant that's capable of operating within A/C systems that require R-22. R-438a, marketed as MO99, offers the most compatibility with R-22 while others require a complete change of lubricating oil prior to use.
Opt for a New A/C System
At an average cost of $4,631 according to the most recent numbers from HomeGuide, a new air-conditioning unit is a sizeable investment. If drop-in refrigerants aren't an option or you're not able to successfully convert your existing A/C system, a brand-new unit may be your only option in the post-Freon age.
Purchasing and installing a brand-new A/C system for your home also comes with a few welcome incentives. For starters, today's air conditioners are designed for the latest refrigerants from the ground up, so you won't have to worry about your system becoming obsolete so soon. A brand-new A/C system will also beat your current system handily when it comes to energy efficiency and cooling performance. Last but not least, your new system will offer improved reliability, making those frequent service calls a thing of the past.