Can I Mix Different Refrigerants?

Different refrigerants have different chemical compositions, which can make them incompatible with one another. Mixing different refrigerants can result in decreased performance of your air conditioner or other problems. It’s best to consult your owner’s manual or a certified technician to find out which refrigerant is right for your system.

It is not only uneconomical and impractical to mix different types of refrigerants, but it can also be dangerous. Along with that, it is illegal to mix refrigerants. So, not only does it make sense to use the right kind of refrigerant for your system, but it’s also the law.

If you’re not sure which refrigerant is right for your system, or if you have any other questions about your air conditioner, contact the experts at Robert B. Payne.

R-22 refrigerant is a CFC-type refrigerant. It is also the most widely used refrigerant in the United States. CFC (Chlorofluorocarbon) refrigerants are a single kind of refrigerant. A replacement refrigerant used instead of R-22, HCFC, is also made up of chlorine, fluorine, and carbon but with a hydrogen atom.

All HCFCs are a mixture of different kinds of HCFC refrigerants. These refrigerants imitate the temperatures and operating pressures of R-22. HCFC refrigerants function at peak capacity when the system is devoid of pollutants or other refrigerants. As a result, you should never use them to top off a low system.

Eliminating R-22 Refrigerants

In 2020, the United States stopped the production and importation of R-22 refrigerants because it harms the Earth’s ozone layer. Only recovered, recycled, and reclaimed R-22 can be used after this date. The price of R-22 has increased because the supply is now limited. Therefore, it’s important to know how much you have and plan ahead for future repairs.

If your system uses R-22, don’t mix it with any other kind of refrigerant. Doing so can damage your system and reduce its efficiency. You should also have your system checked by a certified technician to make sure it’s operating properly and not leaking refrigerant.

If your AC system is low on refrigerant, ensure that your HVAC contractor checks for leaks and fixes them instead of simply topping off your system. You should also check the refrigerant they’re using to recharge your system to make sure it’s the correct type.

What Could Happen to My System if I Mix Different Refrigerants?

You are not supposed to mix different types of refrigerants. Doing so negatively affects the operating temperatures and pressures. When optimizing a refrigerant, you must do so using the refrigerant’s pressure-temperature chart. If you’re mixing a different refrigerant with R-22, you do not have a pressure-temperature chart to consult. So, it is not possible to optimize the system charge. This can cause overheating, lower system efficiency, and a shorter lifespan.

When your AC system is operating inefficiently, it not only raises your energy bills, but also puts unnecessary stress on the system. This can lead to more frequent repairs and premature system failure. All of this is due to the loss of correct oil return to the compressor as well as the incalculable temperatures and pressures.

Here are other effects of mixing refrigerants:

  • Lower cooling
  • Negative environmental impact
  • Unproductive compressor cooling
  • Likely damage to the compressor
  • Poor oil return to the compressor
  • Breakdown of the metering device

Is Mixing Different Refrigerants Illegal?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t go from door to door to check if you’re mixing refrigerants. However, it’s still illegal to mix different types of refrigerants. When you use refrigerants in their pure form, you can reclaim and reuse them.

If you mix different refrigerants, your contractor will have to send the adulterated refrigerant to a parts house. There is usually a fee for this service. The parts house will further send the refrigerant to a company that will incinerate it. Such refrigerant can never be reused.

Why do Some Contractors Mix Refrigerants?

Some contractors mix refrigerants because they’re trying to save money. By mixing different types of refrigerants, they can use a cheaper refrigerant to top off your system. This is not only illegal, but it’s also bad for your system and the environment.

A 30 lb jug of R-22 costs at least three times the cost of a replacement refrigerant. An unprofessional contractor or technician can mix a replacement refrigerant to your system and leave before you notice the harmful effect on your system.

Some technicians wrongly believe that replacement refrigerants make a system perform better. However, it is wrong to not recover and evacuate the refrigerant before adding a new refrigerant. This will mix the two types of refrigerants and cause the issues mentioned earlier. This behavior by some technicians is mostly seen in the height of the cooling months when contractors are more likely to cut corners to save time and money.

Are All Replacement Refrigerants Bad?

The simple answer is no. You just don’t want to mix different types of refrigerants. Only use a replacement refrigerant when your AC system is devoid of all other refrigerants and pollutants. If you’re not sure what replacement refrigerant to use, ask your HVAC contractor for their recommendation.

In the long run, refrigerant mixing is not beneficial to anyone. Your system will run less efficiently, and you’ll end up spending more money on repairs and energy bills. Not to mention, it’s bad for the environment. The contractor who mixes refrigerants will also have to deal with the legal ramifications as well as loss of customer trust and patronage. It’s not worth it to mix different types of refrigerants.

When you do the right thing by avoiding mixing refrigerants, your AC system will thank you. Your energy bills will be lower, and you’ll avoid costly repairs. The planet will also be grateful.

Get Professional AC Services at Robert B. Payne

If you have any further questions about this topic or you need assistance with your AC system, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Robert B. Payne. We’re here to help you keep your AC system running smoothly all year long. Give us a call today!