It’s a fact, we’d all be a lot warmer and uncomfortable without air conditioning! There’s a certain part of A/C units we’d like to talk about today, and that’s a little thing called refrigerant. This substance is what gives air conditioners the ability to produce cool air and expel it out of the system into the indoor air, making homes and commercial buildings alike a lot more tolerable in the warm spring and the hot summer months. When combined with the other valuable components such as a compressor and an evaporator, refrigerant can create that needed refrigeration and air cooling we’ve come to expect from our machines. It’s frequently seen in a gaseous or liquid state.

There are actually a few more facts about refrigerant that are worth addressing, particularly since they involve Canada altogether. So here’s what you need to know about refrigerant for A/Cs.

The Refrigeration Process

Without refrigerant, we wouldn’t have air conditioning or refrigeration technology in the first place. Here’s how it works: the refrigerant absorbs the heat from the air indoors while it’s inside of the copper coils you will typically find in your air conditioner. The refrigerant then shifts from being a low-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid.

The components inside of your air conditioner will then send the refrigerant outside, where the fan will blow hot air over the coils and exhausts it to the exterior. The refrigerant will then cool down and turn back into a low-pressure gas. Meanwhile, another fan will blow air over the cool coils and send the resulting cold air throughout the building.

This is the cycle that typically takes place for refrigerant.

The Big One: Certain Refrigerants are ILLEGAL to Sell in Canada

Yes, you read that right! In 2020 Canada decided to ban the shipment and sales of certain refrigerants in order to phase out their use. These are:

  • Freon, aka R-22
  • R-134a, aka Tetrafluoroethane
  • R-404a
  • R507A
  • R410A

Canada has banned shipments on all of these types of refrigerant in an attempt to phase it out of use due to refrigerant’s harsh environmental impact. A branch of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, called the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, was originally signed in 1987 and is the driving force behind this phase-out. It is an international treaty with the goal of preserving and protecting our planet’s ozone layer by phasing out substances that are contributing to its destruction.

These refrigerants contain within themselves compounds which when they reach the earth’s stratosphere after being expelled do not dissolve. This in turn is what’s thinning out our ozone layer and creating the global warming effect we’re all desperately trying to avoid making worse. Thankfully, by phasing these out, improvement is already being seen in our environment and the Montreal Protocol has so far been a success (source).

For more information on the refrigerant phase-out, you can refer to these articles from:

What if my A/C uses one of these refrigerants?

There isn’t any problem if your air conditioner uses these refrigerants nor is it illegal to use them. What this all means is that it will soon become extra expensive to repair your air conditioner if a leak forms in the unit. Central air conditioners and heat pumps are closed off systems and should never have refrigerant “topped off” or be changed. If a leak does form (and they do happen), it’ll be best to replace the entire system outright since replacing the lost refrigerant will only get more difficult and expensive thanks to the phase-out of its usage. It makes more sense to replace the system outright than trying to resurrect an aging system that’s leaking and spending all your money in the process.

Can’t I Just Replace One Refrigerant With the Other?

It’s really not as simple as that. The parts you may need if a leak happens refrigerant are incompatible with older systems. The evaporator coils needed to support your refrigerant are also costly to replace on their own. Leaking components also need to be disposed of in a proper, safe, professional manner. So, no, it’s best to not replace one refrigerant with another. In the event a leak in your A/C unit does happen, it should be dealt with immediately by your technician.

For more information on leaks themselves, you can refer to our blog post “What You Need to Know About Air Conditioner Refrigerant Leaks.”

The Best Course of Action: Replacing the System

From a financial standpoint, it’s best to replace your current system outright and install a new system using refrigerant or other coolants that are much more safe for our environment. If your A/C is getting on the old side, repairs are starting to become frequent, and you want to save money in the long run, financing options are available at our company and you can always give us a call for help with replacement options or if you have any more questions about refrigerant. At Rep-Air Heating And Cooling we provide our customers with many options that will best suit your needs from heating and cooling to refrigeration. Contact us today for your complimentary quote: 1-833-487-2653 or contact@nullrepairheatingandcooling.com and don’t forget to take a look at our website: https://repairheatingandcooling.com. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for free giveaways!