Summer is on the horizon and that means backyard barbeques, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioner season and this summer air conditioner repairs will come with increasing costs for the refrigerant R22, more commonly known as Freon™.
We told you about the R22 phase out earlier this year, and production of R22 refrigerant has already decreased by 90%. By 2020, production will be prohibited. Homeowners, as a result, face the choice of whether to repair or to replace a system using R22 refrigerant from both a money and environmental perspective.
The R22 phase out has added new variables to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your air conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers are selling less expensive alternatives to R22, often called “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those substitutes are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, has provided research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not capable of working with the lubricating oil used in R22 equipment,” said Dave Moody, Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older A/C systems with these alternative refrigerants might actually damage the system and create more high-cost problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also void any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.”
Because of the R22 phase out, the heating and air conditioning industry is seeing the cost to repair older air conditioners needing additional R22 refrigerant rise by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to keep increasing as summer gets closer.
New air conditioners use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be blended or used in an existing air conditioning system or heat pump designed for R22. Currently, reclamation and recycling of R22 is expected to be satisfactory for existing systems, albeit at a much higher cost, allowing time to upgrade systems before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners aren’t required to replace their air conditioner now, but it’s helpful for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s crucial to know you can’t blend R22 and R410A. When a new R410A system is installed, the outdoor equipment and outdoor coil both need replacing, and the interconnecting refrigerant tubing needs inspecting. This new equipment is often far more energy-efficient and can significantly save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The typical life-span of many home A/C systems is 8-10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the increasing price for R22 to repair older equipment, versus upgrading. Additional benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and enhancing your home’s energy-efficiency. New units will also have longer warranty periods, quieter operation, and the peace of mind of a more ozone-friendly refrigerant, not to mention improved home comfort through more advanced technology.
To find out about your repair or replacement options, call Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing today at 866-397-3787 today.
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