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Do All Refrigerators Have Freon? (Explained)

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Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 01:28 pm

Freon is commonly found in most refrigerators and other cooling appliances because of its effectiveness. Also, when used under the proper condition, it can last a lifetime.

However, many people keep wondering if it is the only refrigerant used in all refrigerators ever produced. Therefore, this has prompted inquisitions as to whether all refrigerators have freons.

Freon is found in most refrigerators but, not all refrigerators have it. Freon can only be found in much older refrigerators as its use has been relegated to the barest minimum due to its adverse effects on the environment.

Do Old Refrigerators Have Freon In Them?

Freon was commonly used in old generations of refrigerators, and as a result, most older refrigerators normally have freon in them.

Freon was predominant among other refrigerants due to its effectiveness in keeping the refrigerator and its content cold. In the absence of leakage or any mechanical fault in the fridge, freon can last a lifetime as its use is regulated within the refrigerating unit.

However, despite the advantages of freon in refrigerators, it was discovered by researchers that freon affects the environment negatively. For example, it was observed to cause depletion of the ozone layer found in the atmosphere.

As a result of this damning effect of freon, it became mandatory as well as obligatory that the use of freon be stopped and replaced with a more environmentally friendly refrigerant that has little or no effect on the environment, especially the ozone layer, since researchers noticed it to be the main target of most freon.

This explains why freon is only found in old refrigerators and is never found in newly manufactured refrigerators.

When Did they Stop Using Freon in Refrigerators?

Since scientists discovered the harmful effect of freon, attempts have been made to phase out the use of Freon and have it substitute a safer refrigerant. The use of freon in refrigerators was entirely in 2010 as refrigerators manufactured from 2010 to date do not have freon in them. The only refrigerators found to have freon are the ones manufactured before 2010.

This was done following the Environmental Protection Agency regulation in 1992 when scientists decided that freon and other related refrigerants be stopped with an alternative made to substitute the use of freon in refrigerators.

Freon usage has also been completely banned as importing and exporting of freon is now totally prohibited. This took effect from January 1st, 2020.

According to this mandate made by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), old refrigerators with freon are also stopped from being used. According to this mandate created by the Environmental  Protection Agency ( EPA).

How Do I Know When My Refrigerator Has Freon?

Refrigerators that were manufactured in the early 90s have Freon in them. So, one of the ways to know if your refrigerator has freon in it is to find out the date the refrigerator was manufactured. This will tell you if your refrigerator has a freon or not.

Information regarding the date of manufacture and the type of refrigerant used is provided by the manufacturer in the user manual or the operating instruction usually attached as a sticker on the back of your refrigerator or compressor.

Other ways to know include you carrying out some tests on your refrigerator. Here are some of the tests to indicate the presence of freon in your refrigerator.

  • When your refrigerator gets to keep its content cold, it is an indication that your refrigerator has freon in it.
  • Also, try to unplug your refrigerator, turn off the temperature control knob and keep your ear close to the unit; a hissing or gurgling sound from the refrigerator shows the presence of freon in your refrigerator.
  • Move close to your refrigerator, locate the condenser and place your hand on it to check for heat. If the refrigerator has been working for some time and you feel hot on the hand placed on the unit, it’s a pointer that your refrigerating unit has a freon.

What Happens When Freon Leaks From Refrigerator?

Freon leaking from refrigerators is hazardous to humans and animals exposed to it and the environment. This is because freon belongs to the class of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons); they contain chlorine, a hazardous chemical.

Here are some effects that can arise as a result of freon leaks from refrigerators:

1. It compromises the freshness of food and drinks kept in the refrigerators due to its inability to stay cold, which is the ultimate purpose of the fridge.

2. When freon leaks from a refrigerator, the motor that keeps the unit running will be forced to run for a longer time to meet up and compensate for the incorrect amount of refrigerant;

when this happens, the motor is placed under excessive strain leading to overwork of the motor, leading to a greater risk of the motor breaking down completely.

Not just that, the motor tends to use more electrical energy as it engages in much work. This leads to an increase in electricity consumption and electricity bills.

3. When freon leaks from the refrigerator, it is accompanied by an odd musty smell, particularly when the fridge is enclosed.

Freon is a dense gas; when it leaks from your refrigerator, it stays in a higher concentration close to the ground, And with its presence in the ground, children and pets are exposed to this gas which is highly toxic when inhaled.

Although freon is a carcinogen, its effect is not felt immediately, as it tends to accumulate over time in the body system.

4. In the environment, freon leakage is extremely harmful as it is a potent atmospheric pollutant.

What is the Most Common Refrigerant Used in Refrigerators?

Modern refrigerators, especially those produced between 2000 and today, commonly have HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbons)as their main refrigerant gas. Gases in this category of refrigerant are environmentally friendly and release fewer pollutants into the environment.

As the world progresses towards a more environmentally friendly state, the use of ozone-depleting and greenhouse gases has been steadily reduced.

In old refrigerators, the most common and widely used refrigerant is freon. It belongs to the category of gases known as CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons).

Chlorofluorocarbon gases are harmful to the environment as they cause damage to the ozone layer, exposing man, plants, and animals to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which has a lot of adverse effects.

A list of commonly used refrigerants and how they evolved are highlighted below:

1. Freon And CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons)

Freon and other CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) were the commonly used refrigerant in the first generation of refrigerators. They have an ozone-depleting potential. Unfortunately, that’s way too dangerous and causes the most damage to the ozone layer.

2. HCFCs (Hydrochlorofluorocarbon)

HCFCs (Hydrochlorofluorocarbon) was next after CFCs . They were much better with reduced environmental damage. Although, they are considered primitive and harmful and have been ordered by the Government to be completely phased out by 2030.

The refrigerant that belongs to the HCFC group is considered class 2 Ozone-depleting gases. This is because they have an oxygen-depleting potential of about 0.2, which is less than CFCs.

3. HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbon)

HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbon) replaced HCFCs . They are considered class 3 ozone-depleting gas with an ozone-depleting potential of essentially zero. This is because these gases do not contain chlorine.

4. HCs (Hydrocarbons)

The latest after HFCs are the HCs (Hydrocarbons). They have more environmentally friendly features than any other refrigerant ever used because they are natural gases.

They do not harm the ozone layer or pollute the environment. Their overall negative effect is shallow compared to previous generations of refrigerant. An added advantage of this natural refrigerant is that it is cost-effective and has high energy efficiency.


Freon is widely used as a standard refrigerant in most refrigerators but not in all refrigerators. Only old refrigerators have Freon in them; newly manufactured refrigerators have refrigerants that are more environmentally friendly than Freon.

It has been completely phased out and is no longer used in refrigerators newly manufactured because of its ozone damage and the greenhouse effect on the environment. So,  not all refrigerators have Freon in them.

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