Summer is coming and that means grilling, baseball, and warmer weather. It also means cooling season and this summer A/C repairs will come with rising costs for the refrigerant R22, more commonly known as Freon™.
We discussed the R22 phase out earlier this year, and creation of R22 refrigerant has already gone down by 90%. By 2020, production will be banned. Homeowners, in turn, face the challenge of whether to repair or to replace their 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 creators are selling lower price 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 less expensive alternate refrigerants are not compatible with the lubricating oil used in R22 systems,” said Dave Moody, Vice President of Marketing at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older A/C systems with these alternative refrigerants could actually damage the unit and create more costly problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also nullify 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 conditioning systems needing additional R22 refrigerant rise by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to continue to increase as summer approaches.
New A/C systems use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be combined or used in an existing air conditioning system or heat pump designed for R22. Currently, reclamation and recycling of R22 is expected to be adequate for existing systems, of course at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t have to replace their entire system now, but it’s helpful for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s important to know you can’t mix 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 considerably save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The average life-span of many home air conditioners is 8-10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the rising price for R22 to repair older systems, 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 equipment will also have longer warranty periods, quieter operation, and the peace of mind of a more ozone-friendly refrigerant, not to mention greater home comfort through more advanced technology.
To ask about your repair or replacement options, call today at today.