IERNA's Heating & Cooling Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Refrigerant’

Common Air Conditioning Repairs: Why is My System Leaking Refrigerant?

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

When you live in as hot a climate as Tampa, FL, any problem with your air conditioning system is a serious problem. At the first sign of trouble with your air conditioning system, contact the Tampa, FL air conditioning repair professionals at Ierna’s Heating and Cooling.  Our team has the tools, training and technical ability to ensure that any issues with the operation of your air conditioning system are resolved quickly and effectively to minimize any disruption to your comfort. One common problem that we encounter is a refrigerant leak. Here are a few potential causes of a refrigerant leak in your AC system.

There are a lot of joints and connection points in an air conditioning system. As your system operates, even when it is properly installed and secured, it is going to vibrate a bit. During years of operation it is possible for these vibrations to cause the connections in your system to loosen up a bit. If the connections through which your refrigerant flows become loose enough, it is possible for refrigerant leaks to develop. By allowing a professional AC technician to thoroughly inspect and tune-up your system, you can help to avoid such problems.

It is also very possible for the copper tubing that generally houses the refrigerant to suffer some corrosion over time. When this happens, it is possible for refrigerant leaks to develop along the tubing. This is more problematic than loose fittings, as it is an active leak that will require repair work or the replacement of the tubing altogether. Only a skilled professional should be allowed to complete such services.

Remember too that there are some instances where your refrigerant may be low without the development of a leak. It may have been improperly charged to begin with, or some refrigerant may have been lost during your last repair or maintenance service. Either way, it is important to have the right refrigerant charge in your system.

Refrigerant leaks can seriously hinder the operation of your AC. Call the Tampa, FL air conditioning repair professionals at Ierna’s Heating and Cooling to ensure that you have the right amount of refrigerant in your air conditioner. If there is a problem, our team can resolve it.

Continue Reading

Air Conditioning FAQ: Why Do New Systems Have 410A Refrigerant?

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Air conditioning systems use a compressed refrigerant in order to absorb heat out of your home and then exhaust it outside. We wanted to put together a quick explanation about what refrigerants are and short history of them. Read below to learn more about one of the most important parts of your air conditioning system.

Air Conditioning Refrigerants: A Quick History

Years ago, refrigerants were highly toxic and often flammable gases like ammonia and propane. In 1928, a nontoxic, nonflammable refrigerant known as Freon was developed and gained widespread use. The term Freon was just the trademark of a variety of different blends of different types of refrigerants. The blend that became most prominent in home and commercial air conditioning systems was referred to as R-22. However, it was discovered that this kind of refrigerant damaged the earth’s ozone layer, and  it was phased out of new production in 2010. In its place is a new kind of environmentally friendly refrigerant known as R-410A. In Europe and Japan carbon dioxide is actually being used as a refrigerant as well.

Older Air Conditioning Systems

If you have an air conditioning system that was built years ago that still uses Freon, you will still be able to get it refilled with Freon. However, by 2020, Freon will no longer be available and if you have a refrigerant leak you may have to replace your whole AC system. However, there are huge benefits to replacing your air conditioning system. Not only will you get more efficient cooling, but you could increase the comfort of your home and reduce the need for air conditioning repair. Also, as R-22 is phased out, it will also become more expensive to repair these older systems since the R-22 will be scarce.

When you need air conditioning repair, installation or maintenance in Tampa, just call Ierna’s Heating & Cooling!

Continue Reading

What’s Going On With R-22?

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

R-22 Phaseout | Tampa | Ierna's Heating and CoolingRecent actions by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding HCFCs have led to uncertainty about the availability of R-22 in the coming months and years. In response, contractors have noticed a ramp-up in the chatter about R-22 and price changes as some manufacturers and importers have amended their sales policies.

This situation is the culmination of several factors, including the continued implementation of the federal government’s policies regarding HCFCs, current market conditions, and delays in the regulatory process.

As most contractors know, the EPA controls the production of HCFCs, including the refrigerant known as R-22, through allowances that limit how much each gas manufacturer and importer can produce or import in a given year. Under the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, the production and use of R-22 is slowly being phased out.

In August 2011, the EPA proposed to adjust the allocations in place for the years 2012-2014. This adjustment was necessary because of a lawsuit filed by two HCFC producers who had completed a legal trade of allocations that EPA had failed to recognize in its allocations released in 2009.

EPA consulted with industry stakeholders before proposing to reduce the annual allocations. In gathering information used to develop the August 2011 allocation adjustment, EPA found that there was an oversupply of R-22 in the marketplace, partly evident by a lack of demand, increased reuse of R-22, and low wholesale prices. In fact, in 2010, producers of R-22 only utilized 86% of their allocations. A trade organization representing the manufacturers and importers of R-22 supported these claims, and advocated for a 20% reduction in allocations for 2012-2014.

By the end of 2011, EPA had yet to finalize its adjustment proposal for the 2012-2014 allocations. But EPA did release a subsequent version of the August 2011 adjustment proposal on December 30, 2011, one that proposed to reduce the allocations for 2012-2014 between 11-47%.

Without a finalized adjustment rule, the producers and importers of R-22 were stuck in a legal limbo – on January 1, 2012, they did not have the authority to manufacture or import R-22.

Recognizing this problem, on January 20, 2012, EPA sent “non-enforcement” letters to the producers and importers of R-22, alerting them that they could resume the manufacture and import of R-22 in the interim even though EPA had yet to set the new allocation amounts. The non-enforcement letter advised that production would be curtailed by 45% of their last allocation amount, the high end of the allocation adjustment proposal.

It is expected that the EPA adjustment proposal will take at least until the summer of 2012 to be completed. The end result could be a reduction in R-22 allocations somewhere between 11-47%, meaning it is likely the final adjustment proposal will be less than the interim 45% reduction and that more R-22 may be produced or imported.

ACCA has been following this issue to provide contractors with the most up-to-date and precise information available. We will continue to monitor the allocation adjustment rulemaking process and alert members of any progress or actions taken by EPA.

The EPA has the following advice for homeowners and customers:

Alternatives to R-22 in Residential Air Conditioning

As R-22 is gradually phased out, non-ozone-depleting alternative refrigerants are being introduced. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA reviews alternatives to ozone-depleting substances to evaluate their effects on human health and the environment. EPA has reviewed several alternatives to R-22 for household and light commercial air conditioning and has compiled a list of substitutes that EPA has determined are acceptable. One of these substitutes is R-410A, a blend of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that does not contribute to depletion of the ozone layer, but, like R-22, contributes to global warming. R-410A is manufactured and sold under various trade names, including GENETRON AZ-20®, SUVA 410A®, Forane® 410A, and Puron®. An additional refrigerant on the list of acceptable substitutes for R-22 in residential air conditioners and other products is R-407C. Residential air conditioners and heat pumps using R-407C are not available in the U.S., but are commonly found in Europe. EPA will continue to review new non-ozone-depleting refrigerants as they are developed.

Servicing existing units

Existing units using R-22 can continue to be serviced with R-22. There is no EPA requirement to change or convert R-22 units for use with a non-ozone-depleting substitute refrigerant. Such changes, called “retrofits,” are allowed if the alternative has been found acceptable for that type of use. R-407C is allowed for retrofits but R-410A is not allowed in retrofits due to its higher working pressures. In addition, the new substitute refrigerants would not work well without making some changes to system components. As a result, service technicians who repair leaks to the system will most often continue to charge R-22 into the system as part of that repair.

Installing new units

The transition away from ozone-depleting R-22 to systems that rely on replacement refrigerants like R-410A has required redesign of heat pump and air conditioning systems. New systems incorporate compressors and other components specifically designed for use with specific replacement refrigerants. For instance, if a new outdoor unit (typically called a “condensing unit,” containing the condenser and compressor) is installed, it is likely that a new indoor unit (typically called an “evaporator”) will also be required. With these significant product and production process changes, testing and training must also change. Consumers should be aware that dealers of systems that use substitute refrigerants should be schooled in installation and service techniques required for use of that substitute refrigerant.”

Continue Reading