If you’ve had to add Freon to your AC unit in the last few years you’ve probably noticed the prices have jumped up quite a bit. What gives?

Back in 1990 the Clean Air Reform Act scheduled a ban on various aerosol-type substances that were bad for the ozone. Specifically, that act called for a complete ban on Freon (R-22 refrigerant) by 2020. As we’ve gotten closer and closer to that date, R-22 has been phased out of air conditioning products. In fact, if you’ve bought an AC unit after 2010 it very likely uses a new type of refrigerant (R410a).

For the foreseeable future Freon is still available to service older systems still using it. But as supplies of it dwindle (since it’s not the primary refrigerant used anymore) the prices will continue to climb. After 2020 when it’s no longer manufactured at all, it will become increasingly scarce.

What does this mean for older AC units?

If your system is currently working well and shows no signs of needing repair, then you’re probably fine to keep using it for the time being. But if you’ve noticed heating issues or refrigerant leaks, this is an ideal time to upgrade to a newer AC system.

The reason to upgrade isn’t simply to avoid paying for expensive Freon. What a lot of people don’t realize is that AC systems are meant to be airtight, perfectly sealed systems. If there’s a leak that calls for adding more refrigerant in the first place, there’s an issue with the system. So if you’re experiencing a leak on an older AC unit and it’s going to require replacing parts anyway, it may be more economical to simply acquire a new system.

Upgrading to a modern furnace/air conditioning system saves hassle, and you can rest assured that your home is in compliance with changing standards come 2020.