Refrigerant-r22If you have an older AC system which uses the R-22 coolant, you have every reason to be observant whenever your HVAC contractor is recharging your coolant. R-22 which is also known as Freon is slowly being phased out and in a few years to come, it will be scarce if not unavailable. This will make it very expensive to obtain. The Environmental Protection Agency has discovered that a number of contractors are using unapproved and off brand refrigerants which pose a risk of damaging your AC or even causing fire.

R-22a Coolant

This is one of the unapproved coolants manufactured by Enviro-Safe which has been found to cause explosions and fires. In one instance in 2015, the manufacturer was fined $300,000 and marketing of the same was ceased. R-22a uses propane and does not have the capacity to handle the level of pressure and flammability coolants go through. Technicians who are working on HVAC systems that were incorrectly recharged at some point are the ones who are more susceptible to the fire hazards.

Approved Alternative R-22 Coolants

The production of R-22 systems in the United States ceased in 2010 and instead R410A systems are the ones being rolled out into the market. However, this doesn’t mean that R-22 systems are no longer in use. As a matter of fact, there are millions of these systems installed in homes hence the need to be concerned on how they are recharged. The price of R-22 has gone up in the recent past as a result of its gradual phase out. This is what has pushed many homeowners to seek for alternative sources.

The approved R-22 alternatives include R407A and R407C. Inasmuch as they are not as effective as the original R-22 which is recommended by the authorities, they are considered safe blends.

Read the Labels Carefully

It is important that you closely read the labels on the refrigerants your contractor plans to use as this is one way to protect yourself against scams. Any one suspecting that certain technicians are using unapproved coolants, must report such suspicion to investigators. When you note product names such as R12A, R-22a and R290, you must immediately stop the technician because such products are not allowed as alternatives to R-22. EPA has a full list of prohibited and acceptable R-22 alternatives. The federal law also requires that any person working on a system that uses a refrigerant whether low pressure, high pressure, or below 5 pounds, they must have the Section 608 certification from EPA.