Now that we are in a new year of greatly reduced supplies of new and imported HCFC-22, it is important to note that there is no ban on the use of R-22. You can use R-22 for as long as supplies last and you have well running R-22 equipment to service.
The entire furor at the beginning of the year over the refrigerant relates to, as I just said, new and imported R-22 because supplies were cut from 51 million pounds allowed in 2014 to 22 million pounds allowed in 2015 and heading to zero pounds allowed as of Jan. 1, 2020.
If you have any R-22 on your shelves or at your wholesaler, you can continue to use that as long as you want or need to. Of course, you have to follow proper recovery and recycling procedures.
Any question about the purity of said R-22 can be addressed by submitting what you have to an authorized reclaimer — and chances are the cost of that service may end up being less than buying new R-22.
And there is a wave of HFC refrigerants that have been designed to be retrofitted into R-22 equipment. Here, you need to check with the refrigerant and equipment manufacturers and your wholesaler for what refrigerants work best in what systems — but it can be done.
Finally, one other point: There is now a finite amount of R-22 equipment out there. New stuff hasn’t been made for five years now, other than some condensing units as part of the ‘dry ship’ aspect of a few years ago. Basically what is out there now is all there will be. And as that equipment is decommissioned, it will no longer need to be serviced with R-22.
How the supply versus need issue down the road sorts itself out remains to be seen.