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Commercial Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Equipment: Frequently Asked Questions

The following information can help businesses that use or service commercial air-conditioning and refrigeration systems understand their responsibilities during the phaseout of ozone-depleting substances (ODSHelpODSA compound that contributes to stratospheric ozone depletion. ODS include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), halons, methyl bromide, carbon tetrachloride, hydrobromofluorocarbons, chlorobromomethane, and methyl chloroform. ODS are generally very stable in the troposphere and only degrade under intense ultraviolet light in the stratosphere. When they break down, they release chlorine or bromine atoms, which then deplete ozone. A detailed list (http://www.epa.gov/ozone/science/ods/index.html) of class I and class II substances with their ODPs, GWPs, and CAS numbers are available.).

Q. Am I allowed to continue using equipment that contains hydrochlorofluorocarbon HCFC-22 (also known as R-22)?

A. Yes.

Q. If I expand an existing HCFC-22 system can I continue to use virgin HCFC-22?

A. No. Virgin HCFC-22 may not be used in a system that is expanded to increase its cooling capacity. EPA presumes expanded systems to be new systems, and new systems may not use virgin HCFC-22 (or R-22). Only reclaimed or recovered HCFC-22, or an alternative refrigerant, may be used.

More on this concept is covered in a Q & A developed for supermarkets.

Q. How can I ensure that HCFC-22 supplies will be adequate to meet my future needs?

A. Establish a plan for your company to repair or replace leaking equipment and to recover and reuse the refrigerant from equipment that is discarded. Your company can store recovered HCFC-22 to service any equipment you own.

Reclaimed refrigerant also is available and may continue to be used after the production and import phaseout in 2020. Both new and reclaimed HCFC-22 is likely to increase in price, however, as existing supplies are used up.

Q. When should I convert my company's equipment to an alternative refrigerant?

A. Many businesses have already transitioned to alternative refrigerants.

Even though there is no immediate need to change, HCFC-22 supply will decline and prices may rise. When you transition, you have three choices: (1) convert your existing system, (2) buy a new one, or (3) continue to operate your existing system. If you choose to convert, confirm with your equipment supplier that the system is retrofitted to use an ozone-friendly, SNAP-approved refrigerant, and that all system components are compatible with the new refrigerant. Buying a new, more efficient system may require more money initially, but may reduce your electricity bill and save money over time. If you choose to continue to operate your existing system, be sure to identify and repair leaks quickly.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About the Phaseout of HCFC-22