How To Change An HVAC System From R-22 To R-458A

With the phase-out of R-22 coming to an end, people are looking at alternative refrigerants.  There are a number of refrigerants on the market, but R-458A is the one which has been authorized by the EPA. This refrigerant can work as a replacement not only for R-22, but for other commercial refrigerants such as R-404a and R-507A.  

Why Is R-22 Being Replaced?

Before you can look at how to replace your R-22 HVAC system with one that runs on R-458A, you need to know why R-22 is being phased out. This is part of the Montreal Protocol which is a UN incentive that led to the ending of production of CFCs and HCFCs of which R-22 is a member. These types of refrigerants have been found to cause damage to the ozone layer in terms of depletion.

The depletion occurs when the chlorine atoms present in these refrigerants enters the atmosphere. When this happens, the refrigerant will travel up into the ozone layer where a chemical reaction will take place. The chemical reaction is between the chlorine atoms and the ozone atoms which changes ozone to oxygen. While this might not seem like a problem, it actually is because oxygen does not offer the same protection from UV rays that ozone does.  

The eventual ban on R-22 will be fully in effect as of 2020 and this is why you need to know about changing your HVAC system. Any residential HVAC system that was installed before 2010 will still be using R-22 and needs to be looked at. If you do not replace the refrigerant with a different one, you will find that you cannot recharge the system in the future or that this will cost more than getting a new system.

Why You Should Use R-458A

With all the different alternative refrigerants on the market, you might wonder why you should be using R-458A. This refrigerant, which is also known as TDX 20, is approved by the EPA and offers a number of other benefits to homeowners. The primary benefit is the fact that this refrigerant has no impact on the ozone layer at all. This means that you will not be contributing to ozone depletion or the greenhouse effect.

This refrigerant is also the only true R-22 replacement. Other refrigerants are not true replacement which means that you will need to purchase a completely new HVAC system when you want to change from R-22. This is due to the chemical makeup of the refrigerants which is too different from R-22 for the HVAC system to handle without any damage.

How To Change From R-22 To R-458A

The fact that R-458A is a true replacement for R-22 is important when it comes to changing what you use in your HVAC system. This means that the refrigerant is a simple drop-in. It is important to note that drop-ins and retrofits are different because many other refrigerants state that they are retrofits.  

With a retrofit, you will need to change or replace a part of your HVAC system. This will generally be a key component of the system to ensure that the unit can run with the new refrigerant. If this is not done, the unit will be damaged by the new refrigerant and you will have to replace the whole system.

A drop in is different as you simply drop the new refrigerant into the system. This means that you do not have to change the system at all because it will be compatible with the new refrigerant. R-458A is the only refrigerant on the market that actually offers this in terms of R-22 HVAC systems.

To make the change from R-22 to R-458A, all you have to do is remove all of the R-22 from the system. You will then have to replace it with the R-458A. Of course, you have to be careful when you are doing this as you do not want the R-22 to be released into the atmosphere.  

Should You Replace The Refrigerant Yourself?

While it is possible to replace the R-22 with R-458A yourself, it is not actually recommended.  This is due to the fact that you have to carefully extract the R-22 and dispose of it correctly. It is generally better to hire an HVAC technician to complete this replacement for you.

They will have the correct equipment to draw out the old R-22 refrigerant and replace it with the newer R-458A. The process will generally take around 3 to 4 hours to complete, but it could take longer if you have a larger unit. The technician will also be able to properly dispose of the R-22 which is something that you might not be able to do.

Should You Replace The HVAC System?

When you are making the change from R-22 to R-458A, you do not actually have to replace your entire system. However, you might want to consider this in certain situations. If the unit is reaching the end of its average life, it might be better to replace it with a newer one.

This brings a number of benefits that you should consider. The newer HVAC systems are more energy efficient which means that you will be paying less for your utility bills. These units will also come with a warranty which is something that you will no longer have on the older unit.  

If you replace the entire HVAC unit, you will not have to worry about contacting a technician to change the type of refrigerant. This is due to the fact that newer HVAC units all come with refrigerants from The unit will also come with a charge of enough R-458A to cover the average life of the unit.  

Making the change from R-22 to R-458A is actually a lot easier than you might imagine. You do not have to do anything to your HVAC system as this refrigerant is a drop in replacement. You will simply have to remove all of the R-22 from the system and recharge it with the new refrigerant.

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