Dec 08, 2016
THE MONTREAL PROTOCOL AND YOU
Have you ever heard of the Montreal Protocol? No, it’s not some band your hipster friend keeps telling you about. If you’ve never heard about it, don’t worry you’re not alone, but it has already started effecting homeowners and business owners, and their HVAC systems, in a major way.
The Montreal Protocol is one of the largest and furthest reaching international treaties ever signed. Agreed upon in the Summer of 1987, it laid out a plan for the systematic phase out and eventual elimination of the use and production of many chemicals and other materials that damage the Earth’s Ozone layer.
R22 AND 410A
So now you’re probably asking “How does this affect me?” It’s actually quite simple: R22, which you may know by its more popular name “Freon.” Many HVAC systems that are 10 years old or older use a refrigerant called R22 Freon or HCFC-22 Freon. Freon is one of the chemicals being eliminated as part of the Montreal Protocol because it is an Ozone depleting chemical and will be completely phased out by 2020. Newer systems use 410A refrigerant, which is better for the environment and in much greater supply.
The phase out is already in full swing and new R22 is not being produced. The government limiting the supply for repairs on residential and commercial HVAC system has caused the price of R22 to rise dramatically over the last few years, in some cases by as much as FIVE times. Prices are projected to rise even more as the supply continues to diminish as the last remaining R22 is used up.
This means that the price of a repair on an existing R22 HVAC system will skyrocket over the next few years. Many homeowners have chosen to do small repairs every few years because it’s a relatively inexpensive option compared to a whole system replacement. However, as Freon becomes more and more scarce, the price of a leak fix and recharging your unit for the summer will become astronomical, from a few hundred to even a few thousand dollars each time! This isn’t a very economical solution for anyone, especially when you consider it’s only a short-term solution in the first place.
Here’s the bottomline: If a leak is found in the coil or elsewhere in the system (a generally pretty common HVAC repair), the cost to fix the leak and refill the system with R22 will be incredibly expensive for homeowners and business owners alike.
WHAT CAN BE DONE NOW?
Rest assured, we’re not telling you to replace your HVAC system immediately if it’s running smoothly and hasn’t needed any major repairs. However, if you have an older R22 unit and you seem to need refrigerant every year, or your system has already been diagnosed with a leak, it might be a good idea to be proactive and replace your system now. Otherwise, you might be forced to pay for the expensive R22 refrigerant when your system needs to be repaired because of a leak, and in some cases, a full replacement would have been more economical.
You may also hear of a solution called MO99 refrigerant. This is considered a “drop-in” refrigerant, and one CroppMetcalfe does NOT recommend. The compressor manufacturers have not approved MO99 and this substitute refrigerant reduces capacity and efficiency of your system. It can also cause problems with the compressor oil. This solution is only a stop-gap measure and should not be considered a long-term, financially sound solution for anyone.
We encourage everyone to do their own research on the subject, and here are several helpful links from government sites with more information about the Montreal Protocol, R22, and what’s next for HVAC owners.
If you would like more information or to speak to a CroppMetcalfe representative on a solution that is right for your situation, please contact us today.
Need a little more info? Checkout this quick comic explaining the Montreal Protocol Situation: