Refrigerant used in older AC units being phased out

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This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An updated version of this story removes the reference to “Freon.” Freon™ is a brand owned by The Chemours Company and is used in many Chemours products. It is not a specific product or technology according to the company. Our use of the word “Freon” in the story in our original report was inaccurate. We regret the error. A Chemours representative says they offer a Freon™  refrigerant portfolio including refrigerants for R-22 retrofit air conditioning equipment, and a Freon™  refrigerant for new air conditioning equipment.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A common refrigerant in a lot of air conditioning units in KELOLAND will no longer be produced in the United States starting in January. R-22 will no longer be allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency because it’s bad for the ozone layer. That could mean costly repairs or replacements for anyone with an aging system.

Waterbury Heating and Cooling service technician Brandon Cates says people need to be aware of the R-22 issue now so they’re not hit hard financially down the road.

“People are going to run upon some really high repair bills. So it’s something they should probably start thinking about. Replacement or start saving,” Cates said.

Cates says it’s likely that 60-75-percent of units in Sioux Falls use R-22. Once it’s no longer produced, the cost per pound will skyrocket.

“It’s either liquid or vapor form. It’s the heart of the cooling,” Cates said.

Mandy Buck just replaced her unit a few years back.

“Our furnace and AC really had lived their useful life. They were installed when the house was built in 1981,” Buck said.

She gets it checked every year.

“To get a couple extra years out of it and to troubleshoot anything that could go wrong,” Buck said.

Cates says annual inspections are something homeowners can do to get a little extra out of their units installed roughly 10 or more years ago. Clean air filters are also important. New air conditioners can start at $3,000.

“Definitely get your AC inspected on an annual basis. Sometimes we can catch the issue or maybe notice that there’s a leak before you get to the dead of summer and you’re without air,” Cates said.

R-22 is being replaced with R-410-A. It’s more environmentally friendly but can’t be used in R-22 units.

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