Summer is coming and that means cookouts, baseball, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioning season and this summer air conditioning system 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 manufacturing of R22 refrigerant has already dropped by 90%. By 2020, production will be banned. Homeowners, as a result, 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 conditioner. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling cheaper alternatives to R22, often referred to as “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those substitutes are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioner manufacturers, has offered research that shows these less expensive alternate refrigerants are not able to work with the lubricating oil used in R22 units,” 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 equipment and create more expensive problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also void any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.”
Because of the R22 phase out, the heating and cooling 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 increase as summer gets closer.
New A/C systems use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be combined or used in an existing A/C 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 air conditioners before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t have to replace their equipment now, but it’s good 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, both the outdoor coil and equipment need replacing, and the interconnecting refrigerant tubing needs inspecting. These newer systems are often far more energy-efficient and can seriously save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The common life-span of many home air conditioning systems is eight to ten years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the increasing price for R22 to repair older units, versus upgrading. More benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and improving your home’s energy-efficiency. New systems 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 Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing today at 866-397-3787 today.
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