Summer is coming and that means grilling, pool time, and warmer weather. It also means cooling season and this summer air conditioner repairs will come with increasing 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 discontinued. Homeowners now face the decision of whether to repair or to replace their 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 air conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling lower price 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 A/C system manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these less expensive alternate refrigerants are not able to work with the lubricating oil used in R22 equipment,” said Dave Moody, Vice President of Marketing at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older air conditioning systems with these alternative refrigerants might actually damage the equipment and create more high-cost problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also invalidate 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 conditioners needing additional R22 refrigerant increase by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to increase as summer gets closer.
New air conditioners use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be mixed 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, though at a much higher cost, providing time to upgrade air conditioners before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t have to replace their air conditioner now, but it’s important for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s important 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. This new equipment is 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. Additional benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and improving your home’s energy-efficiency. New units will also have longer warranty periods, smoother operation, and the peace of mind of a more ozone-friendly refrigerant, not to mention better home comfort through more advanced technology.
To ask about your repair or replacement choices, call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today at 919-578-4329 today.