Air conditioning systems contain a gas or liquid called a refrigerant, which transfers heat into and out of the air. Lots of air conditioners used to be made for use with R22 refrigerant, but you can’t fit these in the UK anymore.

There are lots of air conditioning systems containing R22 that are still running – yours might be one of them. Here’s a handy guide to the rules about R22 gas and what to do if your system contains it.

What’s R22 refrigerant?

R22 is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) that used to be commonly used as an air conditioning refrigerant. If your air conditioning system was installed before 2004, it probably uses R22.

However, due to its high Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP), the UK government began to phase out its use.

In the early 2000s, it became illegal to use hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), including R22 gas, in new air conditioning systems. Then, in 2010, the rules changed so that you could only put recycled or reclaimed R22 in existing R22 systems, rather than new, ‘virgin’ R22.

Now you’re not allowed to add R22 refrigerant to air conditioning systems, whether it’s new, recycled or reclaimed.

What are the rules about air conditioning systems that still use R22 refrigerant?

If you’ve got an air conditioning system that runs on R22 refrigerant, don’t worry, you’re still allowed to use it. You can also still get it serviced to make sure it’s running safely and efficiently.

However, it’s no longer possible to replace parts or refill R22 gas installations. This means that when your system requires one or both of these things, you’ve got two options:

1. Convert your system to a different refrigerant

Converting an R22 refrigerant system to use a different gas is a popular move. This is mainly because:

  • It’s usually cheaper than replacing your whole air conditioning system
  • It minimises disruption to your property and its climate control, which could be useful if you’re particularly reliant on your air conditioning

Professional checks an air conditioning unitChanging your air conditioning system involves removing the R22 refrigerant, cleaning the system and taking out and replacing certain parts. Then an alternative refrigerant is added, like R410A. You can find out more about commonly used air conditioning refrigerants here.

Converting your system to use a different air conditioner refrigerant is only really worthwhile if you’ve got a system that makes this relatively easy. It’ll also need a significant amount of working life ahead of it to be worth the cost.

2. Replace your R22 system completely

An alternative option is to replace your R22 gas air conditioning system completely. This is a great option because:

  • Your new system is likely to be much more energy efficient than your current one
  • It will be easier and cheaper to service and maintain
  • Modern air conditioning is far more likely to meet your heating and cooling needs

Replacing your R22 air conditioning system can be more disruptive and expensive than converting it. However, you’ll be left with much more reliable climate control that will last significantly longer.

What should I do about my R22 gas system?

It’s a good idea to convert or replace your R22 refrigerant system before it stops working. This will help you plan the work for a convenient time for you, and means you won’t be left without air conditioning while you’re waiting for a company to become available.

As for whether you should convert or replace your system, this really depends on the age of your current system, your budget and your air conditioning needs.

Your current system is probably quite old, so it’ll be cheaper in the long run to replace it now rather than convert it. However, if you want to keep initial costs low, conversion might be better for you.

For expert help and advice on what to do with your R22 refrigerant system, complete our short online form. We’ll help you work out which solution is best for you and give you a no-obligation, free quote.