Summer is almost here and that means grilling, baseball, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioner season and this summer air conditioning system 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 manufacturing of R22 refrigerant has already decreased by 90%. By 2020, production will be discontinued. 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 if you are considering repairing or replacing your A/C system. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers are selling less expensive alternatives to R22, often described as “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those alternatives are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading A/C system manufacturers, has provided research that shows these less expensive alternate refrigerants are not capable of working with the lubricating oil used in R22 units,” 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 void any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.”
Because of the R22 phase out, the HVAC industry is seeing the cost to repair older A/C equipment needing additional R22 refrigerant rise by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to keep increasing 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 air conditioner or heat pump designed for R22. Currently, reclamation and recycling of R22 is expected to be sufficient for existing systems, of course at a much higher cost, allowing time to upgrade air conditioners before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t have to replace their equipment 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. These new units 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 typical life-span of many home air conditioning systems is 8-10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the rising price for R22 to repair older units, versus upgrading. Additional benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and improving your home’s energy-efficiency. New equipment will also have longer warranty periods, calmer 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 today at 540-302-8645 today.