Keep On & Puron On

You may not know, but in just a couple of months Freon - that tried and true refrigerant gas used for decades to keep our food and homes cool - will no longer be available.  Why?  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies have shown direct correlation between the amount of hydrofluorocarbons (HCFC’s), of which Freon is a part, and the depletion of the ozone layer in the atmosphere.  In other words, all these years we’ve been staying nice and cool, we’ve also been adding to the numerous amount of gases eating away at the atmospheric layer which keeps us protected from the sun!  So, the EPA ordered HCFC’s be decreased and ultimately phased out by 2020.

Freon, also known as HCFC-22 or R-22, is an environmentally hazardous gas but has been the primary coolant used in air-conditioning for some time.  So the question begs to be asked, if there’s no more Freon then what happens to my air-conditioning?  Before panic sets in, most likely you’re good to go.  The EPA gave air-conditioning manufacturers plenty of warning and time to find a solution.  Welcome Puron to the stage!

Puron, “the environmentally safe refrigerant” also known as R-410a, has been in place for the last 8-10 years or so.  If you’ve purchased a new HVAC unit in that time then you have nothing to worry about.  However, older units will need to be replaced at some point in the future because there will be no more Freon for them.  But don’t worry, there’s nothing that needs to be done immediately.  The EPA is not mandating everyone have their Freon systems replaced on January 1st.  Most likely, your system will run for years but HVAC professionals will need to source & story remaining supplies of Freon to maintain your system as long as possible.  Eventually, you will need to replace the entire unit. 

What’s so bad about HCFC’s?

HCFC’s are a small part of the greenhouse gases negatively impacting our atmosphere, but they trap thousands of times more heat than  does carbon dioxide.  That’s bad.

How do I know if I have a Freon or Puron system?

Look at the label on the side of the unit.  It should clearly indicate which refrigerant is being used.

If I have a Freon-system, can I just start using Puron?

Most likely not.  Some systems may be able to have components replaced but it could be very expensive.

Do I have to replace the entire Freon-system?

Eventually yes.  Newer systems are not just environmentally friendly, they’re also more energy efficient meaning lower utility bills.  It might be better to replace than retrofit in the end.

A Tip from Roost Home Watch 

The best recommendation we can make is to talk to your HVAC company.  The professionals will be able to provide you up-to-date information and the appropriate guidance for your system. Roost Home Watch partners with high quality HVAC companies and would be happy to recommend one, if needed.


 Adapted from Joseph Devine. Photo by Roost Home Watch