If you have an old air conditioning unit that has formed a refrigerant leak, then it may be in your best interest to start thinking about having the entire system replaced. This is especially true if the unit uses a refrigerant called R-22. When you look around at new units, you should consider one that uses R-410A instead. Keep reading to understand why R-22 refrigerant is bad and why R-410A is a better choice.

Why Is R-22 Refrigerant Bad?

If your air conditioner is quite old, then it likely contains a refrigerant called R-22. The common or brand name for this material is Freon. Freon is a highly stable and efficient refrigerant that helps to absorb and transfer heat out of the surrounding air. The stability of the material helps to ensure the good cooling ability of the air conditioner over many years of use. However, Freon is also considered a highly volatile compound. This means it easily evaporates into the air if it leaks out of sealed air conditioning coils. 

Freon contains chlorofluorocarbons that break down the ozone layer. Since the material can easily evaporate into the air, the use of the material can be extremely dangerous for the environment. If your air conditioner leaks the refrigerant, then you will be contributing to ozone layer depletion. The ozone layer helps to absorb UV sun radiation. Without it, UV radiation increases. This can contribute to skin cancer and the formation of more serious sunburns.

Since Freon is a known environmentally unfriendly material, the refrigerant is being completely phased-out of use. By the year 2030, the refrigerant will no longer be available for use in any product. Production is limited now, and new AC systems do not use the material. This means that you should opt for a new air conditioner now due to environmental and phase-out concerns. 

Why Is R-410A A Better Choice?

There are a wide variety of refrigerants that are now used in cooling systems, and R-410A is one of them. This refrigerant contains fluorine instead of environmentally unfriendly chlorine gas. If the fluorine does leak from the system, it will evaporate like Freon, but it will not cause an environmental concern. The refrigerant is also less toxic that R-22. This means that the gas is less likely to cause a poisoning issue if it is breathed in. However, the material still can be dangerous, even though it is safer than R-22. You still should be examined by your physician if you feel that you have inhaled refrigerant during a leak incident.

R-410A also has the advantage of being more efficient. Systems that use this material will produce more pressure. In fact, the refrigerant will need to be placed under about 60% more pressure than R-22 to work properly. The increase in pressure helps the refrigerant pull heat from the air faster and better than a low-pressure system. Also, the air conditioner will require less of the refrigerant. This means fewer chemicals need to be used. Also, copper pipes will be smaller, and the rest of the system will be smaller too. This translates into fewer resources needed to create the air conditioner.

Another advantage of investing in an R-410A system is the fact that the refrigerant is non-flammable. This means that the unit is safer for residential use in case a spark or flame comes into contact with the unit. 

Old air conditioning systems are likely to use Freon. If your Freon system has a leak, then a full replacement should be considered right away. A system that uses a refrigerant like R-410A is a much better choice. To make sure you are getting the right sized unit for your house, make sure to speak with your HVAC professional from a company like Affordable Plumbing & Heat about the best system for your needs.