R-22 has been used in household cooling systems for many years and will still be used for many more, but as times change so do advancements in chemicals and technology. Most developed countries have stopped producing this particular type of cooling refrigerant due to it's potential ozone depleting characteristic. So here we are, out with the old and in with the new.
All units installed after 2010 will be rated for a new refrigerant, R-410A. Now you may ask yourself what if I have a unit that runs on R-22? Well recycled R-22 is still available to HVAC companies for repairs but, it is no longer manufactured. There are some things you as a consumer should take into account. Simple law of supply and demand will take affect somewhere around or after the year 2020. As we all know, when supplies run low, price goes up. This economic rule stands for anything we consume and this is no different. As a consumer there are a couple of avenues you can take moving forward.
One, contact the manufacturer of the condensing unit you have. Some manufacturers are or have made it possible to convert a R-22 system to R-410A system. This however is not a DIY project and requires a professional HVAC company to make these updates.
Or two, budget for replacement. This is probably the best option. It is always worth evaluating the cost of upgrading vs replacing. There are many systems that are more efficient so compare new systems that are a 13 SEER to 20 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) for your next HVAC system. Sometimes considering the long game can be more beneficial financially.
One of the most important things to take into consideration is condition. Most systems last 10 to 15 years, but if it is well maintained it can last well into the 20+ range as I have seen many over 20 years of age and still in great working order. So next time you're outside, take a picture of your condensing unit and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will determine type, tonnage and age for you!
Some things to remember:
1. Keep the outside unit clear of debris
2. Do not block outside unit (let it breath)
3. Replace your filters accordingly
4. Don't close off to many rooms (again letting your system breath)
5. Don't overwork the system (for best results set system to 78 degrees during the summer months and heat to 68 degrees during the winter months)
6. Set up preventative maintenance with a local HVAC company if you can't or not comfortable with maintaining your system (It will pay for itself of repair costs)
Maintain clearances so that the systems can breath