The use of chemical compounds called refrigerants, also known as “coolants”, is what makes air conditioners do their primary function. Refrigerants are used in a heat cycle wherein gas changes from liquid and back. However, according to a news report from KATC.com, the R-22, the most commonly used refrigerant, as well as other harmful alternatives, should be out of the market:
The FBI is warning people to be on alert for refrigerant substitutes that have not been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Some contain propane, which is flammable and can explode or catch fire if, for example, a technician servicing an air conditioner gets too close to the coolant while soldering. So far, the explosions have been rare.
The problem has cropped up as the U.S. phases out R-22, a chemical used for decades as a refrigerant in air conditioners and refrigerators. Because R-22 destroys the ozone layer, it is being banned globally under an international treaty.
With the EPA’s efforts to completely phase out R-22, a number of people are now going for cheaper and unapproved replacements that come from the black market, such as “Super Freeze 22a”. Use of unapproved refrigerants (especially those with chemicals like propane) have resulted in some cases of explosion and fire. Therefore, air conditioning in Shreveport and other U.S. cities have to be closely monitored and maintained by their owners.
R-22 and Other Hazardous Refrigerants
For more than four decades, R-22 has been a common refrigerant for heat pumping and air conditioning systems. It is deemed dangerous as it contributes to the thinning of the ozone layer.
Environmental Health and Safety Online reported that exposure to Freon, a trade name for chlorofluorocarbons, may cause refrigerant poisoning with symptoms including nausea, headaches, palpitations due to the chemicals present in it.
The EPA suggests the use of new refrigerants that do not contain harmful chemicals. Currently, there are about more than 20 approved substitutes (Hot Shot 2, KDD6, Suva 407C) tested for their toxicity, flammability, and contribution to global warming and ozone depletion.
Old and New Installations
Existing R-22 units may continue to run on R-22, however, their owners may also switch to a suitable alternative like the R-407C compound. Note that new alternative refrigerants will not work with R-22 units without changing the air conditioner’s components.
Dealers, contractors, or companies that use these alternative refrigerants must be knowledgeable on installation and air conditioning service. Fortunately, residential and commercial property owners alike can rely on established companies like Accutemp Cooling and Heating. Such companies are well-aware of the latest eco-friendly and efficient HVAC solutions, not to mention that they provide services for dependable air conditioning repair in Shreveport.
(Source: FBI issues warning about air conditioner coolant, KATC, July 18, 2014)