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What Does a Refrigerant (R-22) Shortage Mean to Me?

The EPA has annouced the possibility for additional planned reductions of the refrigerant R-22. This annoucement began the many rumors and misinformation on what is going to happen to the supply of R-22. As the rumors and predictions rattle through the industry, the price of R-22 began to skyrocket. Customers began buying as much of the cheaper R-22 supplies as possible while distributors are replacing it with the higher cost units based on the speculation on what the EPA will annouce as their final decision.

This is all nice, however, when you add the additional factor that the industry was predicting record sales on dry charged R-22 units, it forces the HVAC industry to really think on where it really wants to go on this subject. Most likely there will be some adjustment in the R-22 allocation this year. We also know that the market demand is going to be higher than the supply of R-22 refrigerant.

Wholesalers and dealers will be adjusting their strategy this summer. But what do we tell the average consumer? We have been sending out letters to our customers every time we identify a leak and  add refrigerant without taking any additional action. Why? We must educate the consumer. As the price goes up, we must first tell our customers that we need to monitor our leaks and review the options based on where we think the industry is going.

We should as a minimum inform our customers to repair any leaks that are in fact repairable. There are some solutions for leaks in systems, such as Nu-Calgon's "Easy Seal" . It's purpose is to seal leaks in both residential and commercial air conditioning systems. It can provide a low cost solution for situations when the affordability to replace is not possible. The use of this alternative is more likely to be successful on low pressure (suction side ) leaks rather than larger high pressure leaks.

The best alternative in most cases is to replace the defective equipment with a new air conditioning systems that utilize the enviromentally friendly refrigerant such as R-410. This refrigerant is also know by the brand name "Puron". Replacing the defective equipment provides a longterm solution with lower maintenace costs and a "green" alternative. In most case, the consumer will also realize a lower operating cost on the newer system because of greater enrgy savings.

Remember, the lowest cost solution may not be best when it comes to R-22.