The government made some changes in the type of refrigerants that can be sold in the United States. This change has a direct impact on customers with air conditioning systems that are 12 years old or more. At Sturm Heating & Air Conditioning in Spokane, we want to make you aware of the change. In this way, you can make informed decisions about the best path to take if you need a Freon recharge.

What Is Refrigerant?

Refrigerant is the amazing substance that allows us to have air conditioners in our cars and homes. It allows heat pumps to cool our homes in the summer and heat them in the winter. The reason that refrigerant can perform such magic is that it has a very low boiling point. In fact, refrigerants commonly used today boil at temperatures that are well below freezing. With the use of heat exchangers, fans and coils, refrigerants can cool and heat our homes.

R22 was developed back in the 1930s. It was eventually found to deplete the ozone layer. By the time this was realized, this type of refrigerant was already in use around the world.

What Is the Change?

As of 2020, it is illegal to produce R-22 refrigerant in the United States. This is an EPA regulation. You do not have to stop using your air conditioning unit if it uses this type of Freon. If your unit experiences a leak or needs a recharge, it could get very expensive. At this point, only stockpiled or reclaimed R-22 can be purchased. Freon is reclaimed from older air conditioners that are taken out of service. Only technicians with EPA certifications can reclaim R-22 refrigerant. It must be reclaimed, not released into the air.

You can look on the air conditioning system’s label to see what type of refrigerant it uses. You will need to look for the white label on the outside unit. The label will either have R-22 or HCFC-22 as the type of refrigerant. Also, the year of manufacture will be on or before 2010.


You cannot just use another refrigerant in your system. Older air conditioning systems can be retrofitted to use refrigerants that are legal. The problem is that retrofitting is a costly option. The systems in question are now 12 or more years of age. Air conditioning units tend to have a lifespan of about 15 to 20 years. If this issue affects your unit, you will have to weigh the costs versus the benefits of retrofitting, recharging the Freon and fixing the leak, or replacing the unit. This law puts homeowners in a tough and expensive situation.


If your air conditioning unit is from before 2006, it likely only has a SEER rating of 10. That is the rating for the energy efficiency of air conditioning units. The new units sold today in Washington must have a SEER rating of 13 or more. Dividing 10 by 13, the newer units only use 77% of the energy as compared to a unit that is from 2005 or before. If your unit is that old, you will save money on energy if you purchase a new unit. You can find the SEER rating on your air conditioner or contact the manufacturer.

Replacing your unit is likely the best option. While it may cost more upfront, you will save money on your energy bills by having a more efficient unit and won’t have to worry about dealing with R-22 refrigerant.

We can provide you with a thorough estimate of what a new AC installation will cost.

Experienced Air Conditioning Installations in Spokane

At Sturm Heating & Air Conditioning in Spokane, we have been providing air conditioning installations since 1945. We provide the full gamut of heating and air conditioning services, including installations, repair, and maintenance. Boilers and indoor air quality services are also our specialty. If you are in need of emergency repair, we have 24/7 service. Our pricing is a flat rate so that you won’t have any unexpected surprises.

Our BBB rating is A+. We are a Trane Comfort Specialist, a Lennox Premier Dealer, and a Mitsubishi Diamond Contractor. We are a member of the Spokane Home Builders Association and the National Air Duct Cleaning Association. We offer a few different types of financing on approved credit on installations through GreenSky for your convenience.

Call us today at Sturm Heating & Air Conditioning in Spokane for all of your questions and needs regarding air conditioning installations. We are here to serve our local community, as we have been for decades.

Sturm Heating & Air Conditioning

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