Chances are you haven't thought much about your air conditioning system's refrigerant — until now, that is. With the upcoming phase-out of Freon, also known as R-22, from manufacture and importation in the U.S., it's time to think about how it'll affect your AC system and your home comfort.

On January 1, 2020, the ozone-depleting refrigerant won't be legally made or imported within the U.S., although HVAC technicians can scavenge as-of-yet unrestricted quantities of the refrigerant from older A/C equipment. If your A/C system was made prior to 2010, then you'll want to know how the upcoming phase-out affects it and how best to prepare for it.

Service Your System Soon

No matter what type of A/C system you own, a thorough check-up and tune-up performed by a trusted HVAC technician can soothe many potential ills. What makes a pre-phase-out check-up so special is how it safeguards your system against the time- and money-consuming expense of sourcing Freon later on.

Refrigerant leaks can happen, whether the culprit is a barely-visible pinhole leak, a failed seal, or accidental contact and subsequent damage. In a post-phase-out environment, a Freon recharge could cost double or triple what you'd currently pay for the service. A thorough inspection and scheduled repair helps technicians spot and patch up leaks, preventing further refrigerant loss.

Servicing your A/C system right now puts you ahead of the curve when it comes to overall longevity and cost savings. A little preventive maintenance goes a long way towards continuing indoor comfort.

Weigh Your A/C Options

Long after the phase-out takes effect, you'll eventually face some tough choices involving your A/C system. Here are a few options to consider before the Freon phase-out goes into effect:

  1. Stick with your current refrigerant. Consider this option if you're not quite ready to part ways with your current A/C equipment. Rising Freon costs will make this option more expensive as time marches on.
  2. Switch to another refrigerant. So-called "drop-in" replacements for R-22 can give your current A/C system a new lease on life, but compatibility issues can make the process hazardous and expensive.
  3. Upgrade to a brand-new unit. A/C systems made after 2010 already take advantage of R-410A and other alternative refrigerants. This option costs more upfront, but you'll have greater peace of mind.

How you choose to approach these options depends on the system's age and level of upkeep. Keep in mind that a circa-2010 A/C system is close to its 15- to 20-year lifespan.

For more information, contact an air conditioning service in your area.