Summer is on the horizon and that means backyard barbeques, pool time, and warmer weather. It also means cooling season and this summer air conditioner 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 prohibited. Homeowners, as a result, face the challenge of whether to repair or to replace a system using R22 refrigerant from both a budget and environmental perspective.
The R22 phase out has added new variables to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your A/C system. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling less expensive alternatives to R22, often called “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those replacements are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, has offered research that shows these lower cost 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 may actually damage the system 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 cooling industry is seeing the cost to repair older A/C equipment needing additional R22 refrigerant increase by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to increase as summer arrives.
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 sufficient for existing systems, albeit at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade systems before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t have to replace their equipment now, but it’s important for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s essential to know you can’t combine R22 and R410A. When a new R410A system is installed, both the outdoor equipment and coil need replacing, and the interconnecting refrigerant tubing needs inspecting. These newer systems are often far more energy-efficient and can considerably save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The typical life-span of many home air conditioners is eight to ten years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the rising price for R22 to repair older systems, versus upgrading. More benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and upgrading 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 find out about your repair or replacement alternatives, call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today at 239-908-6991 today.