Options for Your Old Air Conditioner after Freon (R-22) Ban


As of January 1, 2020, the production and import of Freon, also known as R-22 refrigerant, were banned in the United States due to environmental concerns. If you have an older air conditioner that uses R-22, you have several options to consider:

1. Retrofit Your System:

  • Some older air conditioning systems can be retrofitted to use an alternative refrigerant, such as R-407C or R-422D. Retrofitting involves replacing components like the compressor and flushing the system to remove R-22.
  • Consult with a qualified HVAC technician to determine if your system is compatible with retrofitting.

2. Recharge with R-22:

  • While the production and import of R-22 have been banned, existing supplies may still be available for servicing older systems. However, the cost of R-22 has risen significantly due to its limited availability.
  • If you choose this option, keep in mind that R-22 prices will likely continue to increase, making repairs more expensive over time.

3. Upgrade to a New System:

  • Upgrading to a modern, energy-efficient air conditioning system is often the most cost-effective long-term solution.
  • New systems use environmentally-friendly refrigerants like R-410A, which are more energy-efficient and readily available.

4. Utilize a Hybrid System:

  • Some homeowners opt for a hybrid approach, where they keep their existing R-22 system for heating and install a new system for cooling.
  • This can be a transitional solution while planning for a complete system replacement.

5. Take Advantage of Rebates and Incentives:

  • When upgrading to a new, energy-efficient system, explore available rebates, tax credits, and incentives offered by federal, state, or local governments, as well as utility companies.
  • These incentives can help offset the cost of a new system.

6. Properly Dispose of R-22:

  • If you choose to retire your R-22 system, it’s essential to properly dispose of the refrigerant to comply with environmental regulations.
  • Consult with a qualified HVAC technician or recycling center to ensure responsible disposal.

7. Schedule Regular Maintenance:

  • Regardless of your choice, regular maintenance is crucial to extend the lifespan and efficiency of your air conditioning system.
  • Ensure your system is inspected and serviced by a professional technician at least once a year.

8. Consult with an HVAC Professional:

  • It’s advisable to consult with a licensed HVAC professional to assess your specific situation and provide guidance on the best course of action.
  • They can help you determine whether to retrofit, recharge, upgrade, or consider a hybrid approach based on your budget and cooling needs.

Can You Still Get Freon For Air Conditioner?

Yes. After the ban on the importation and production of Freon in 2020, there are still Freon stocks for homeowners to purchase, though supply will decrease with time. Recycled Freon will also be available though at a high cost as well.

As is the nature with most businesses, supply of a commodity is inversely proportional to demand. This means that as the supply of Freon decreases, the demand will increase (unless everyone buys the new air conditioning systems).

An increase in the demand of unavailable Freon means high prices of the same.

Although, the ban on the production of Freon is in full effect, you can still find Freon in the market from old stock. HVAC technician will also continue servicing air conditioners with recycled Freon until none is left.

How Do I Tell if My Air Conditioner Uses Freon?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency amended the Clean Air Act in 1990 which has contributed to the end of production and important of Freon in all the 50 states.

As from 2010, new air conditioners made did not use R-22 as a refrigerant. However, there were still old air conditioners in stores many years later (sold new) which were made to use Freon.

So, how can you tell if you air conditioner uses Freon or the new and better R-410A? Well, there are 3 ways to do that:

  • If you still have your air conditioner’s manual, the type of refrigerant used will clearly be indicated on it.
  • If you are sure that your air conditioner was made in or after 2010, then you are in the clear. New AC units use the new good stuff.
  • Check the AC’s label/nameplate. The refrigerant type will be clearly printed on it. If you have a central AC unit, the plate will be on the outside condenser unit. For portable and window AC units check the rear of the unit.

What to do if you Have Freon in Your Air conditioner


If your air conditioner uses Freon as a refrigerant, there is no need to panic. First, using Freon is not illegal. It is just that the government does not want more units to use it due to its effects on the environment.

Secondly, if your air conditioner is running just fine, there is no immediate course of action needed from your side. An air conditioning system is a close-looped system.

That means that Freon moves from the compressor to the condenser coil to the evaporator coil and back to the compressor without any loses. It only changes from gas to liquid and back to its gas state.

What that means is that unless your air conditioning system is leaking, you don’t need to recharge it with Freon.

Tip: In most cases when many people’s air conditioners stop working or aren’t working well, they are quick to conclude that they need a Freon recharge. From experience, that is hardly the problem.

All this is to stay that if you have an old Freon-dependent AC, you should only be concerned when an HVAC technician finds out that you have a leakage.

So, what should you do if you old Freon-dependent air conditioner is out of Freon? Well, there are 3 solutions:

1. Recharge it with Freon (R-22)

Although this is not a long-term solution, it is a viable one for the next few years. Production and importation of Freon was stopped in 2020.

That means there are available stockpiles of this refrigerant although it is quite expensive due to the demand compared with dwindling supply. If you are not ready to install a new air conditioning system, an HVAC technician will recharge your AC system with the Freon after fixing the leak.

That should serve you for a long term until your unit suffers another leak or when you are ready to replace your AC system.

Apart from Freon from stockpiles, recycled Freon is another option. Recycled Freon is also expensive but it will help until you are ready to install a new AC unit.

2. Replace the Old AC with a New One

Sometimes replacing your old air conditioner with a new one is the best option. But how do you know if replacing is better that servicing?

To start with, if your air conditioning system is in a fairly good condition save for the leak, an HVAC technician can fix the leak, recharge the AC with Freon and you will possibly get good service from the system for another couple of years.

In that case, servicing the AC is clearly a better option that replacing. You may need the input of an HVAC technician to help you make an informed choice.

On the other hand, if your air conditioning has seen better days, it is not nearly effective as you would need it to be and fails often, you are better off installing a modern air conditioner that uses R-410A.

3. Retrofit the Old AC

In case you have been wondering or asking yourself, you cannot simply recharge or top-up your old air conditioner that uses R-22 with R-410A. Both of these refrigerants have different properties and therefore their systems are not compatible.

It is like vehicles/engines. Engines are made to only use a specific type of fuel and if you use the wrong type of fuel you will most likely need to swap out the engine as it will be damaged.

Retrofitting the AC system can however be a solution though not a popular one. The idea here is to change the cooling system so that it uses the new R-410A instead of the banned R-22.

Retrofitting in this case is the process of modifying your air conditioning system so that it is compatible with R-410A. It involves removing all the Freon from the system, changing the lubricating oil and replacing other components like seals and gaskets.

Retrofitting isn’t necessarily cheap. Most homeowners have actually found out that the cost between installing a new AC system and retrofitting an old one is quite low.

You also have to hope that the process will be done right. This is the main reason why I do not recommend this option.

Ultimately, replacing the old Freon-dependent air conditioning system with a modern one that uses R410A is the best and long-term solution.

Wrap Up

And basically that is what you need to know about the Freon ban especially if you have an old air conditioner. I hope you found this guide helpful