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Charlie McDermott:

Welcome to Comfort on Porpoise, sponsored by Dolphin Cooling & Heating, who have been providing 24/7 Comfort on Porpoise since 1998. Hey there, Charlie McDermott, back in the Dolphin studios with the Comfort on Porpoise podcast, once again, back with Lauren. Lauren, how are you doing?

 

Lauren Willeford:

I’m doing well, Charlie, how are you?

 

Charlie McDermott:

I’m doing great and oh my goodness. You know, we get into conversations about air conditioning, you teach me things I had no idea even existed. And this is one of those topics that needs to get out there. Certainly not well known information and it’s really important. So what you shared with me was that there are two different types of refrigerants for your air conditioning units, right?

 

Lauren Willeford:

Yes, that’s correct.

 

Charlie McDermott:

Okay.

 

Lauren Willeford:

So previously, prior to 2010, even going back further than that, 20 years plus ago, the refrigerant used in the air conditioner was R22. And then in 2010, based on Federal regulations, they started phasing out R22 and the refrigerant that is most commonly seen in most air conditioning systems is now R410, which is great. But one of the reasons that I wanted to get on here and kind of chat with you today is something that a lot of people don’t realize. 

 

If you go from R22 to R410, there are certain steps that need to happen based on what the manufacturer says, which is really most important, because they design the equipment. They know exactly how it should operate. And then there are some options, because sometimes it can get a little bit pricey or, depending on the application, could become a little difficult.

 

So, the big thing that I want to point out as far as difference between the two refrigerants, which is what actually causes the problem, is the oil that’s used in them. So the refrigerant is a combination of a gas liquid and an oil in there. So in R410, they used POE oil, which is like a synthetic. In R22, they used mineral oil. So the oils, they don’t mix at all. So if we have to go from an R22 unit, right? Customers lived in the house, the unit is 24 years old. Which kudos if your AC has lasted you 24 years. Great job. You’ve probably done an excellent job maintaining it as well. But okay, now you need to have a new AC unit installed and it’s going to run on R410 refrigerant instead of the 22.

 

So what’s the importance here? The importance here is that when you have an R22 unit the line set, which is the copper lines, there are two of them, that are connected between your air handler and your condensing unit that feed the refrigerant through, which is how the unit cools the air, et cetera. As the refrigerant runs through those lines, so does the oil, okay? 

 

So if you take an R22 unit and you just replace your condenser and your air handler, and then you hook up an R410 unit to those lines that previously ran R22 in them, guess what? There’s still oil in there. So when you hook up the new 410 unit and run it, over time what happens is inside the compressor in the condensing unit, the oils mixing almost causes this pink jelly. It actually looks almost like a pink jello and it will seize your compressor and cause early system component failure.

 

So what the manufacturer recommends, the best option, is if you’re going to go from an R22 unit to an R410 unit, that you should have your line set replaced at the same time. So everything is new. There’s no contamination, there’s no possibility of contamination. It’s all new. Good news with that is that then you know your line set is also new, so there’s not going to be any leak in your line set. So your system is going to be good for another 10 plus years, right, is the whole goal, if it’s well maintained. 

 

However, we understand that in certain applications, sometimes replacing the mainline set is not necessarily feasible. For instance, when you’re in high rise condominiums. Or because of somebody’s budget, maybe they just don’t have the budget, because line sets are not cheap. Aside from the fact that they’re all copper, they’re also typically pretty labor intensive to replace that.

 

So the other alternative for people and we always like to share this, so at least every customer understands what the manufacturer says, which is if you go from one to the other, you change the line set. It’s the best course of action. So we always like to explain that. If that’s not an option or they can’t do that, then what we offer is called a refrigerant flush. 

 

So there’s a special flush kit that we buy. And basically during the installation process, we take and flush your lines, using this refrigerant flush to try and clear the lines as much as possible. But with anything there’s not a hundred percent guarantee that we’ve completely rid all the previous oil out of it or anything like that. But at least in that case, you’ve made every attempt to try and clear it to prevent early system component failure.

 

So it was something that we started to realize a lot of people don’t realize. They don’t realize that the oils in the refrigerant are different. They don’t realize that you can’t mix them. They don’t know that the manufacturer says you should really be replacing the line set. And while we understand sometimes that’s just not within somebody’s budget or whatever it might be, we always want to make sure that at least our customers and our listeners here today are knowledgeable about it to make the best decision for them depending on their situation. 

 

So, you know, it’s something that I’ve learned too, just from researching and talking with other people in the field. And you know, it’s not necessarily something that’s very commonly talked about, but I think the consumer should be aware of what it is so they can make the best informed decision.

 

Charlie McDermott:

So question for you and, and maybe you already covered this, but so 2010, the new refrigerant is the R410, post was the R22. So what happens, like you said, someone who is fortunate enough to have a working system today. Are they using the R22 or are they using the R410 refrigerant?

 

Lauren Willeford:

Okay. So all new equipment that’s made presently today is manufactured using R410 refrigerant. They haven’t made any new equipment with R22. They had to switch over.

 

Charlie McDermott:

But if you have an old unit?

 

Lauren Willeford:

Yes and it was manufactured with R22 and it’s been running off R22, we still can get access to R22 refrigerant, you know, to be able to service the unit as needed. But if you’re actually doing a new installation, so you’re taking it out and putting something new in, everything new off the line runs with 410. 

 

The reason this happened was back, it all had to do with global warming, climate change, but the CFCs. So the big thing with R22 is the chlorine, as far as damaging our ozone layer. Which is why they then put several regulations in place that started to phase 22 all the way down until a point that essentially it’s out. Now, it’ll never be completely gone because there are still units out there that run on it and certain applications for it. But as far as your residential AC system, they’re not manufacturing with it anymore.

 

Charlie McDermott:

Okay. So then as an owner of an older unit, do I have to be concerned that the current air condition company is using the right refrigerant? Or is that just something that it would be impossible to get the two mixed up? How, how does that work?

 

Lauren Willeford:

So I will say I’ve seen it happen, you know, tech goes out, complete accident. But no, like 99% of the time the tech goes out, it’s actually right there. If anyone in their house were to say, go out and look at your condensing unit, there’s a little placard on the outside of the condensing unit typically. And on there, it will tell you what type of refrigerant it runs off of. So, as a homeowner, you can go out and you can actually see this information for yourself. It’ll tell you what type of refrigerant it runs off of.

 

It’ll actually tell you sorts of manufacturer specs on the unit, aside from just the refrigerant. What the high and low pressure should be, what your super heat and sub cooling should be, what size your line set should be. There’s all sorts of info, but it’s typically 99% of the time, if a tech goes out, he knows and 410 is really the most common thing nowadays anyway.

 

We do still run into those R22 units. We do have customers who are still nursing along that unit, you know, 23, 24 years. It’s still running, you know, it’s still running. When it comes to major repairs, that’s really the time when we start to talk about, okay, you know, once you start sinking money into it, it’s just going to become a bottomless pit for you. So no, anyone listening, you do not need to worry that someone’s gonna come out and put the wrong thing. It’s very, very, very unlikely.

 

Charlie McDermott:

All right. Well, great. I’m sure that gives our listeners some peace of mind if they have one of those Smithsonian units still working. 

 

Lauren Willeford:

That’s awesome. Yeah.

 

Charlie McDermott:

All right, Lauren. Well, I mean, who knew. Every episode there’s just more and more information that really is helpful. I mean, hey, it’s one thing we have the technical knowledge, but does it really matter? And every topic, it really does matter. So thanks for sharing that with the world and certainly the folks here in Southwest Florida.

 

Lauren Willeford:

Thanks for having me, Charlie.

 

Charlie McDermott:

Thanks for listening to Comfort on Porpoise. To learn more about our sponsor, Dolphin Cooling & Heating visit www.dolphincooling.com or call 239-596-9044.