ARLINGTON, Va. - The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) wants homeowners to be aware that in just six months the United States will significantly reduce its production of R-22.

Owners of home cooling systems, including dehumidifiers, central air conditioners, air-to-air heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps, and ductless air conditioners will be affected by the next major step in the phaseout schedule.

“Owners of this equipment should be aware of the impact this next environmental milestone may have on them,” said AHRI President Stephen Yurek. “There is a lot of confusion surrounding the R-22 phaseout for equipment owners.”

AHRI provides the following guidance for equipment owners based on frequently asked questions received from visitors to

Know Your Refrigerant.Look on the nameplate on the outdoor unit of your air conditioner; it should identify the refrigerant. If you do not see it on the nameplate, check your owner’s manual or contact the HVAC contractor who installed your system to obtain the information. If you know the manufacturer and model number, you could call the manufacturer or check its Website.

You don’t have to dispose of equipment using R-22 and can keep using your R-22 system.The phaseout period was developed to provide equipment owners with enough time to switch to ozone-friendly refrigerants when they would normally replace their air conditioner or other equipment. This transition is important because supplies of R-22 will be more limited after 2009, which may cause the price of R-22 to increase. Starting in 2020, new R-22 will no longer be produced, so consumers will need to rely solely on remaining supply or reclaimed refrigerant to service any systems still operating after that date.

You can still purchase R-22 systems.These systems will continue to be manufactured until the end of 2009. If you purchase a new system using R-22, you should be aware that supplies of R-22 will be more limited after 2009.

Systems using alternative refrigerants that do not harm the ozone layer are available and widely used in air conditioning and refrigeration systems today.EPA maintains a full list of acceptable substitutes for household and light commercial air conditioning through its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program.

R-22 systems can be recharged and serviced.For the next 10 to 15 years, R-22 should continue to be available for all systems that require it for servicing, but the supply is expected to be greatly reduced after 2009.

Make sure new parts or systems are properly matched.Heat pump and air conditioning systems using alternative refrigerants like R-410A have been redesigned to work with this refrigerant. With these significant changes, it is imperative that you replace both the indoor and outdoor units of your system or it will fail. Work with a qualified HVAC contractor to make sure that he will be installing a certified matched system. Ask for an AHRI Certificate of Product Ratings.

Minimize your system’s impact on the environment.If you have equipment that contains R-22, the most important thing you can do is to maintain it properly to minimize potential leaks. Work with a qualified contractor, who employs EPA-certified technicians, to perform regular system maintenance. They are required to use refrigerant recovery equipment during service; it is illegal to intentionally release any refrigerant when making repairs. Request that technicians locate and repair leaks instead of “topping off” leaking systems.

Publication date:08/10/2009