Summer is almost here and that means cookouts, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioner season and this summer air conditioning system repairs will come with rising costs for the refrigerant R22, more commonly known as Freon™.
We talked to you about the R22 phase out earlier this year, and production of R22 refrigerant has already dropped by 90%. By 2020, production will be prohibited. Homeowners now face the decision of whether to repair or to replace the system using R22 refrigerant from both a money and environmental perspective.
The R22 phase out has added new factors to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your air conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant creators 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 air conditioner manufacturers, has provided research that shows these less expensive alternate refrigerants are not compatible with the lubricating oil used in R22 units,” said Dave Moody, Vice President of Marketing at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older air conditioners with these alternative refrigerants could actually damage the unit and create more expensive problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also nullify any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.”
Because of the R22 phase out, the HVAC 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 continue to increase as summer gets closer.
New air conditioners 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 adequate for existing systems, albeit at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade systems before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t need to replace their air conditioner now, but it’s good for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s essential 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 considerably save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The common life-span of many home air conditioners is 8-10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the increasing price for R22 to repair older units, versus upgrading. Further 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 choices, call Roy Inch & Sons Service Experts today at 226-270-1164 today.