Most of the non-professionals never would guess that one of the chemical substances that the HVAC industry uses as a refrigerant can hide a lot of interesting facts. But there are many things to be said about the item known as Freon, from the complex history to the unclear future that it has when it comes to the environment and how it affects humans.
Below are 5 interesting facts about Freon
It never was truly banned
Some of the sources online say that it was banned back in 1955, and others say that it wasn’t used during the 1930s. the truth is that it’s not true, and this is where its complex history comes in. Freon’s a generic word that’s used for signifying most of the refrigerants these days but it’s also a brand name that was created by GM. All of the Freon’s first contained CFCs . The one that is best known today is R-22, which is also called CFC-12 or R-12. 1. CFCs were banned by the famous Montreal Protocol, which was signed back in the 70s, since they contributed to the depletion of ozone. There are HFCs which are known under different names and they’re replacing CFCs as Freon. However, they have a big issue too – they’re greenhouse gases. But until we can find a non-polluting, better, non-toxic, and non-flammable option, HFCs is what we’ll use.
Freon may cause asphyxia
If there was ever a leak of Freon in your air conditioning system, freezer, or fridge discovered by an HVAC technician, chances are they’ve told you should be careful of being exposed to it. Some technicians believe the leak will cause asphyxiation. But since has found that this this colorless, volatile gas only can cause adverse effects if its concentration is at least 11%. Some of the side effects having trouble concenrtating, dizzy spells, heart arrhythmia, and nervous system depression. It’s true that Freon can lead to asphyxia, however, it’s only going to happen in really confined spaces.
You should never use propane as an air conditioning refrigerant
The EPA specifically prohibits using propane as your A/C refrigerant. This is because the substance is very toxic and flammable. It can lead to major harm if its exhaled excessively and it can also cause house fires and explosions. When your refrigerant is low, it’s a difficult tax to replace it. So you should leave it up to a professional. No matter what, you should never use propane. Even though it’s a gas, it’s not suitable and it can cause major problems.
There still isn’t a totally eco-friendly refrigerant for A/C systems
The Kyoto and Montreal protocols imposed certain benchmarks and standards regarding using substances which cause greenhouse gases and deplete the ozone layer respectively. This is the main reason for the phase out of R-22 back in the 90s. There was research done that discovered it was depleting the ozone. R-22 was replaced with something called R-134a. however, this Freon type also had its issues. It isn’t compatible with the oil type that the older systems use. Also, R-12 isn’t being produced any longer and even at the halt of production the price went from just $89 for 30lbs to over $1,000 for 30lbs. R-22 which has been used for most small commercial and residential systems stopped production back in 2009 and will likely be phased out completely by the year 2020.
There’s an enormous index (1,300) for R-134A for how it contributes negatively to the problem of global warming. It hasn’t been used by the carmakers in Europe for auto air conditioning systems since back in 2011. This is a problem for the United States HVAC industry, along with the Chinese counterpart since both of the countries already had made huge investments into the R-134a plants. It may be that CO2 is going to be the future’s refrigerant, but a lot more research and time is needed.
Freon doesn’t evaporate
When you consider the issues above with replacing the pollutant refrigerants, the current standards allow refrigerant substances that have been banned to be recycled and reclaimed. Even though they’re not being made or imported, except for when old systems are being restored, it’s still possible to recycle and reclaim them.
Because of this, authorities are hoping to maximize the potential for usage and increase the substances’ lifespan without having to impose replacement or retrofit expectations on the household consumers. Because it’s pricey to retrofit older A/C systems or refrigerators and because the newer systems aren’t really affordable, it’s essential that the ones out there are kept in working order. If there aren’t any leaks in them, that Freon they’re using won’t dissolve, evaporate, or disappear in any way. It can only be depleted through leaks, so ensure that the HVAC tech is spotting leaks before it is too late and you have a huge bill.
These are the things that you may not have known about Freon. A lot goes into helping your air conditioner to work properly and to keep you cool when the summer heat turns up. But if you don’t choose the right refrigerant and you aren’t careful when it comes to your air conditioning, you may find that you have bigger problems than being hot during the summer. Make sure that you are having your air conditioning checked for leaks and problems by a professional and always let a professional replace the refrigerant when its supply gets low.
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