Cool August nights
As I look at my smartphone calendar that we have reached the dog days of summer. Warm days and cooler nights to let the fresh air in. This time of year has me thinking about HVAC maintenance. In this part of the country of western North Carolina, we are reliant not only to air conditioners but also Air-source Reversible Cycle Units…other known as heat pumps. I am sure you notice that when you walk by an AC unit in the summer that it blows hot? That is a heat pump or AC unit absorbing heat and discharging it outdoors. One difference between the two, is there is a reversing valve built into a heat pump. So as it gets cold out, and you request heat from your thermostat, instead of just letting all that fine warm heat float to the outdoors, the heat pump reverses the valve and brings heat to the indoors. Man is it great!! Until the refrigerant runs out…
EPA Phase-out of ODS
In the Southeast, we are heavily reliant on refrigerant R-22 or R410A to keep us comfortable. Not only in the summer with air conditioners but also with heat pumps to keep us warm in the cooler months. By 2020 the EPA will be phasing out its (ODS) Ozone Depleting Substances. R-22 is one of those substances that damages the ozone layer. Read more at EPA website: https://www.epa.gov/ods-phaseout/phaseout-class-ii-ozone-depleting-substances
What does it mean?
Until 2015 numerous HVAC systems relied on R-22 other know as HCFC-22. As supply runs out, the demand and price for the scarce refrigerant R-22 is going to be increasing. After 2020 there will be no more importation of R-22. HVAC contractors will have a limited supply for service calls. And with that, prices will continue to rise.
Check the data tag
Take a walk to the back of the yard where the compressor unit is, and on the back of the compressor, there should be a label that states which refrigerant you have. You should be looking for the numbers HCFC-22, also stated as R-22. Or you may see 410-A
Consider having an HVAC technician come out and perform a tune-up. It important to have them pressure test the system to check for leaks and tighten up the system if they find any leaks. Be aware that the expected serviceable life for an HVAC system is around 20 years. If your system is passed that, it is time to begin budgeting for a new system.
Can the two refrigerants be mixed?
An R-22 system is normally designed to operate only on R-22. To read more about mixing the two: http://www.supplyht.com/articles/97376-can-you-mix-r22-with-r410a.