No need to panic over freon

Joan Koczor

By Joan Koczor

Many of you have heard or read about Freon R-22 and how the oils in R-22 destroy the ozone. According to the Clean Air Act of 1990, R-22 is a harmful refrigerant and currently being phased out of use. Homeowners are now recommended to use Puron, or 410A, refrigerant to maintain indoor comfort.

In 2004, there was a 35% reduction in R-22 production the quantities available have diminished over the years. Now in 2020 a 99.5 % reduction in the production of R-22. Simply put, the law of supply and demand will prevail with the price of each pound of refrigerant increasing dramatically. Prices have risen from $100 to $300 a pound.

My concern is if R-22 becomes unavailable – or unaffordable – and we have to use 410A, does that mean we need to replace the air conditioning unit? So, I asked an expert in the A/C field – my son Dan. Information he provided is based on his years of experience in the heating and air conditioning business.

He said R-22 can be replaced. To do so, you would need to replace the unit; the A coil inside and the condenser outside. Lines could be cleaned, but it is best to replace.

Dan also said there is no need to panic. Many units in Maricopa and cities in Arizona may already be using 410A. Each A/C unit has a label that lists the type of freon being used. It’s easy to check what type of Freon is in your A/C unit.

If your current A/C service person suggests changes that are expensive, get a second opinion. If you question the repairs they are suggesting, get a second opinion. Disreputable service persons target seniors. They are the most vulnerable. Seniors know there is a need for a properly working A/C unit, especially in the Arizona heat.

Dan advises to always question a service person who cleans your A/C unit and tells you they had to add freon because of a leak. An A/C system is sealed so there is no need to replace freon unless a noticeable leak is present. Just a practice some A/C service persons use, especially targeting seniors, to increase the cost of the service call.

Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.

This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.