AC Leak? How the R22 Phase Out Affects Your Florida Home

If your heating and cooling system is low on refrigerant, then it can’t absorb as much heat from your home and can lead to a system that runs nonstop, yet never cools your home.

Air conditioning (AC) equipment manufactured before 2010 usually relies on R22 refrigerant, an ozone-depleting substance (ODS) that was banned as of January 1, 2020, under the U.S. Clean Air Act and Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer1.

You can still continue to operate a heating and cooling system that runs on R22. However, if your AC system has a refrigerant leak or needs an emergency repair, your next service visit may look a little different.

Learn more about R22 and how to make the best decision when your AC system has a refrigerant leak or requires a total AC replacement.


Message from Air Care Founder & Owner

Watch this short video to hear from Larry Harkins, founder of Air Care in Clearwater, member of the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society, and Florida licensed AC and electrician professional.


State License#: CACO45902 | State Electrical License#: ET11000868

To learn more, contact Air Care today.

What is R22 refrigerant?

Refrigerant is the liquid that absorbs and transfers heat from one part of your AC system to another, changing between a liquid and gas form2.

R22 refrigerant is commonly known as “freon,” a trademark name that’s often used to refer to several different refrigerants, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), such as HCFC-22, which is often referred to as R-221.

R22 is commonly used in AC systems manufactured before January 1, 2010, and many central, mini-split and window AC units rely on it to function.

To determine if your system uses R22, the refrigerant type should be listed on your AC unit’s outside condenser. If there’s no UL label, check your owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website. If you still cannot identify which refrigerant is used, contact Air Care today.


Why is R22 refrigerant phasing out?

The U.S. phased out CFCs in the 1990s and is currently phasing out HCFCs beginning this year through 20302.

That’s because like CFCs, HCFCs deplete the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer, which protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV causes skin cancer and cataracts, and damages plants, crops, marine life, and various materials, such as plastics and paints. Phasing out these harmful substances globally is expected to avoid more than 280 million cases of skin cancer, approximately 1.6 million skin cancer deaths, and more than 45 million cases of cataracts in the U.S.1


What if my AC system uses R22?

At Air Care, we follow several protocols to properly service and dispose of AC refrigerant and equipment containing ozone-depleting substances like R22.

As a homeowner, you also have options in the event you have a refrigerant leak or emergency repair.

Option 1: Repair

If your AC equipment has a refrigerant leak, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not require you to replace your system (although it’s an alternative, as you’ll read in option #2 below).

First, our AC service technicians will locate the leak, repair it and add R22 refrigerant back into your AC system (while supplies last). However, don’t be surprised by the costs. R22 can be very expensive as a result of the shrinking supply, since R22 production was banned at the start of this year.

Some AC companies will attempt to “top off” your refrigerant or even retrofit your AC system, which requires removing all of the R22 refrigerant from the system, changing the seals and replacing the oil in the compressor that is compatible with the new refrigerant, as well as place a new label with the new refrigerant information. However, we do not recommend either of these options for many reasons, including the impacts to your AC system, budget and the environment.

It’s also important to note that if your system uses R22 refrigerant, you should never mix R22 with another non-ozone-depleting refrigerant alternative (e.g., R-407c or R-410a). Mixing HVAC system refrigerants can shorten the life of your AC system, increase AC operating costs and completely ruin your compressor.


Option 2: System Replacement

Another option is to replace your AC system altogether.

The EPA prohibited the manufacture of new air-conditioning systems that use R-22, and new energy-efficient AC units save on operating costs and protect the ozone. Even if your AC system is 10 years old, you could save significantly on energy costs by replacing it with a newer model that operates on safer refrigerants2.

At Air Care, our AC manufacturer of choice is Rheem, which offers top-quality, innovative cooling solutions with the latest technology and dependable performance—all backed by great warranties and excellent service and support3. As a trusted Rheem Pro partner, our service technicians are certified to repair, replace and maintain all Rheem AC systems.

In addition to Rheem, we service and repair all AC systems, including (but not limited to) Carrier, Trane, Goodman, Bryant, York and Lenox.

Give us a call today to get an estimate for a new home AC system installation. We service most homes in the Tampa Bay metro area including Pinellas county, southern Pasco county, and western Hillsborough county.


Florida Homeowners: Trust a Professional AC Company

The most important step you can take is to maintain your AC unit properly. Major refrigerant leaks rarely develop in properly installed and regularly maintained units1.

Start by scheduling a service appointment with Air Care, where one of our technicians can determine if your AC equipment:

    • Runs on R22 refrigerant
    • Has a leak or needs more refrigerant
    • Requires repair
    • Should be replaced

Contact Air Care today to learn more.


“I have used Air Care a number of times now, for both AC repair and purchasing a new air conditioning unit for my house. The service is always prompt, courteous and complete. From the office manager who schedules and coordinates the technicians, to the owner who personally checks up on their work, I have to say that you will be hard pressed to find any business that cares about their customers as much as Air Care does.” – Larry K.





[1]: Phaseout of Ozone Depleting Substances, homeowner and consumer FAQs

[2]: Phasing out HCFC refrigerants to protect the ozone layer

[3]: Rheem: Residential Air Conditioners