R22 Phaseout Is Happening Fast! Now What?

R22 Gas Is Widely Used For Commercial Refrigeration. R22 Phaseout Is In Full Swing As Mandated By The EPA. Here Are Some Viable Options In Dealing With The Phaseout.

R22 Phaseout has been in the works for years. This gas was put on the EPA‘s hit list with the creation of the Montreal Protocol to protect the Ozone Layer. When released into the atmosphere, R22 is far more harmful to the environment than newer types of refrigerant.

I’ve written this post with equipment owners in mind: We will skip the specific details of R22 Phaseout and instead offer end users like Restaurants, Bars, Hotels, Florists & Liquor Stores options to prepare for what’s ahead. R22 is over, it’s time to move on instead of beating a dead horse. We know for a fact that there is way too much R22 Commercial Refrigeration equipment still being used in Chicago & Lake County, Illinois. The price of R22 is already skyrocketing, so the time to think about options is NOW!

  • Do not let a HVAC or Refrigeration Contractor sell you new R22 equipment. It’s still out there. They may be offering a good deal, but why buy obsolete equipment?
  • If an existing R22 system has a major leak & loses all the refrigerant it creates the perfect opportunity to retrofit the system to a replacement gas like MO99. If a contractor states that a R22 system is “warm due to losing the charge” ask for a quote to retrofit the system to a replacement gas! We recommend MO99 gas because it is compatible with any oil in the system & runs at a lower head pressure. Changing to MO99 gas will actually make the system run more efficiently due to the lower head pressure. That means you save money on electricity!
  • If your R22 refrigeration compressor fails, don’t replace it with a new R22 compressor. Instead, get a quote for a compressor that is set up for a newer style gas such as R404A. As long as your system metering device is a TXV you should be able to have a contractor change the metering device in the evaporator coil to match the new style gas. Often the only thing needed to retrofit a system is a new compressor & a new metering device.
  • If your R22 system is over 8 years old & requires a major repair consider upgrading to all new energy efficient & ozone-friendly equipment!

Northeast Cooling LLC has specialized in energy efficient refrigeration & refrigerant retrofit in the Chicago area for over 20 years. Please contact us with any questions at 847.409.3332 or drop us an email info@northeastcooling.com.

Please leave any thoughts on this blog post or any refrigeration topics in the comment section below!


Chicago Google City Experts

Being in the Refrigeration service & repair business I get around Chicago & the surrounding areas. When I heard about a new Google program I knew it was the perfect fit for me! I want to let you in on a cool deal happening in the Windy City & cities all over the world. Google City Experts is an awesome club that entitles you to exclusive perks & amazing events! Visit the Google City Experts Website & find out how easy it is to join in on the fun!

Chicago Google City Experts Crew!
Chicago Google City Experts Crew!

The following are some of the events I have attended within last few years.

  • Speakeasy Party at Green Door Tavern in Chicago.
  • Prime Rib Luncheon at Lawry’s Prime Rib.
  • Air & Water Show Tiki Boat Party
  • Backyard BBQ at Bang Bang Pie Shop
  • Oktoberfest Party at Half Acre Tap Room
  • Dia De Los Muertos Fiesta & Private viewing at the National Museum Of Mexican Art
  • Review From The Top Party at the SEARS TOWER Observation Deck
  • City Experts Summer Beach Bash at Castaways Bar on North Avenue Beach
Google City Experts Summer Beach Bash at Castaways Chicago
Google City Experts Summer Beach Bash at Castaways Chicago

Every event has been a blast! Amazing venues & great people. The food & drinks are always superb as well. These are parties that I look forward to & Google City Experts is a favorite on my social calendar! Consider joining us. Head over the new Google City Experts website & sign up! Find me on google+ here & check out Northeast Cooling on Google+ as well! Thanks & hope to see you at the next event!

The following is a clip from a comment left by Chicago Google City Expert Amy K. Please check it out for additional information on upcoming Google events in Chicago!

“Interested in becoming a City Expert? Join other aspiring City Experts for a night just for you: learn how you join the fun and receive exclusive benefits just by writing local reviews on Google. You’ll meet other awesome community members and get your City Experts questions answered.

We’ll gather in a secret West Loop loft space in Chicago where you’ll experience unique dishes with a pretzel twist from local restaurants, enjoy light bites, sip locally-made beer and get a taste of the exclusive benefits available only to City Experts, like contests and invites to special events.

Ready to taste Chicago? Sign up for City Experts (http://goo.gl/kahSpG) and RSVP here (http://goo.gl/ufpo7Y) to reserve your spot by August 13, 2014.”

Routine Refrigeration Maintenance: A Case Study

The following table is a case study of two clients of ours. Our service records from 7/1/12 – 6/31/13 were used to create this table. This comparison is between two bars located in the West Loop area in Chicago. One location (Bar #1) has had a routine maintenance schedule and the equipment is serviced quarterly. The second location (Bar #2) has never accepted a maintenance quote and never had all equipment cleaned and checked on a regular basis. They always call on the hottest days and nights getting whatever piece of equipment fixed that needs immediate attention. The table below will illustrate the importance of routine maintenance and the consequences of equipment neglect.

EstablishmentTotal Number Of Coolers & Freezers Scheduled Maintenance 7/1/12 - 6/30/13Non Emergency Service Calls 7/1/12 - 6/30/13Overtime Service Calls 7/1/12 - 6/30/13Compressor Failures 7/1/12 - 6/30/13
Bar #127Every 3 Months1021
Bar #224None1843

This table clearly shows the benefits of a maintenance plan. Bar #1 has more total equipment than Bar #2, but has less service calls for the year. Also, Bar #1 had only one compressor failure as compared to three at Bar #2. The overall cost of service for the year was much less at the client with a maintenance plan. The properly maintained equipment required far less electricity as well. Routine maintenance plans reduce service calls, save electricity and extend the life of refrigeration equipment.

When it comes to reliability of any equipment, preventive maintenance is a crucial factor. Failure to properly maintain commercial refrigeration will almost always lead to costly repairs and loss of product. As Murphy’s Law would have it, these breakdowns usually occur at the most inopportune times like nights and weekends. It is at these times that service of coolers and freezers comes at a premium. Failure to properly maintain equipment also causes much higher utility bills and shortens life of equipment.

Problems caused by failure to maintain refrigeration equipment

  • Increased utility bills

  • Burnt wiring due to increased amp draw

  • Failure of fan motors caused by dirty coils

  • Failure of thermostat due to increased amp draw

  • Failure of compressor due to dirty coils

  • Restriction of metering device caused by overheated & damaged refrigerant oil

  • and more!

Benefits of routine maintenance

  • Reduced electrical consumption

  • Less equipment breakdown

  • Lower service and repair costs

  • Longer equipment life

  • Fresher product

  • Reduced product spoilage

  • Decreases chance of emergency service due to neglect

  • Decreases stress

  • and more!

More information available on the following blogs

Outdoor Refrigeration Units & Extreme Cold Weather

Compressor & TruckAn epic battle will be happening across Chicago. Outdoor Refrigeration Units will be fighting the elements to maintain proper temperature.

A Polar Vortex is making it’s way towards Chicago. We will experience some of the coldest weather in decades. Predicted temperatures for Monday are -12F & -40F windchill. Countless refrigeration systems will fail to maintain proper temperature. Most of these affected systems will have the compressor unit located outside. Outdoor commercial refrigeration condenser units located in regions that experience cold Winters must have low ambient operation controls. Units not designed to run in cold weather will not maintain proper temperature in the conditioned space when it gets cold out. The following are some of the different types of components that are needed to help a refrigeration unit run in cold weather.

Cold Weather Accessories & Controls

  • Condenser Bypass Valve
  • Condenser Fan Cycling Control
  • Compressor Crank Case Heater
  • Adjustable Low Pressure Control

The condenser bypass valve is used to used divert refrigerant from the condenser coil & instead pipe it right into the liquid line to maintain sufficient head pressure. This low ambient control works in any weather condition including subzero windy weather. This is the best cold weather control for your commercial refrigeration unit.

The condenser fan cycling control is used to cycle outdoor condenser fan motor on & off to try & maintain system head pressure. This method may not work well in extreme cold & windy conditions. This is especially true when the condenser coil has been installed facing West. Often wind travels West to East & can over cool the condenser even with the fan cycled off. This mostly happens on extremely cold & windy days. This is why we do not believe that a condenser fan cycling control is a good choice. There may be several days a year where a cooler or freezer will not operate correctly with a condenser fan cycling control.

The compressor crank case heater is used to prevent liquid refrigerant from migrating into compressor. The heater is energized all the time & keeps the compressor warm. This protects the compressor from liquid migration & liquid slugging.

All outdoor condensing units should have an adjustable low pressure control. Some units come with OEM nonadjustable low pressure controls that have a settings too high for cold ambient conditions. This may cause compressor to sit idle & not cool the space to be conditioned when it gets cold out. We recommend a standard pump down setting for all outdoor compressor units. The standard pump down setting is 20# low side compressor on & 0# low side compressor off.

Owners of commercial refrigeration systems in Chicago should keep a close eye on temperature & cycling during the extreme weather created by the Polar Vortex. If temperatures become erratic & warm up during the cold snap, chances are there is a problem with winter operation.

Please feel free to comment on this post or ask questions below. We are here for commercial refrigeration repair service during this weather & as always we are available 24/7/365.


More information is available in the following posts.

How cold weather affects outdoor refrigeration units.

Avoid Refrigeration Break Downs During Chicago Blizzard Weather


Commercial Refrigeration “Service” vs. “Maintenance” – There’s a Difference

Refrigeration Service At O'Hare
O’Hare Terminal 5

In our experience we find that most after hours emergency commercial refrigeration service calls are due to lack of proper maintenance. Failure to properly maintain coolers and freezers will lead to various unpleasant outcomes. Poorly maintained equipment uses more power to maintain temperatures. It’s also prone to premature failure of critical components. These failures usually occur at the worst possible times like nights and weekends. Repairs cost significantly more after hours or on weekends compared to during regular business hours.

A Solid Maintenance Plan Can Prevent Commercial Refrigeration Repairs

The following scenario is a case in point. We received a request for emergency commercial refrigeration service at a customer lounge in O’Hare Airport on Saturday 10/26/13. The client requested repairs on a two door cooler in their kitchen. We let the client know that services come at a premium on weekends and explained our labor rates. We offered to schedule repairs for first thing Monday, but the customer could not wait.

Upon arrival we found that the cooler condenser and evaporator coils were both plugged with debris. One of two evaporator fan motors had failed possibly due to restricted airflow caused by the dirty coil. This caused one half of the evaporator coil to freeze up. The compressor was extremely overheated due to the dirty condenser coil. We defrosted the frozen coil, replaced the bad evaporator motor & pressure cleaned the evaporator & condenser coils. After repairs and cleaning the refrigerant pressures were checked and a system restriction was found. System oil had been fouled due to overheating caused by the dirty condenser. This caused the capillary tube metering device to partially restrict causing a low back pressure. A quote for new capillary tubing will need to be prepared.

All of the problems found with this cooler stem from lack of maintenance. All of this could have probably been avoided with a proper maintenance plan in place.

The following are the main takeaways from this service call.

Consequences of lack of routine maintenance include:

  • All problems with this cooler were caused by lack of maintenance on commercial refrigeration equipment
  • The overtime service call cost the client about $250 more than regular rate service
  • Overheated and damaged oil has caused the capillary tube metering device to become partially restricted and new capillary tubing will need to be quoted
  • The dirty condenser coil caused compressor to run hot and has decreased life of the compressor

Avoid Unplanned Commercial Refrigeration Service – Be Proactive

We strive to make clients aware of the importance of a routine maintenance plan. This is a tough sell for some reason. Most clients operate on a reactive basis instead of a proactive basis. If proper maintenance plans were in place the majority of commercial refrigeration equipment failures could be avoided. Check out some of our DIY tips for commercial refrigeration maintenance.

Some benefits of a routine maintenance plan

  • Prolong life of commercial refrigeration equipment
  • Reduce electrical consumption
  • Reduce the need for emergency commercial refrigeration service
  • Prevent costly commercial refrigeration repairs