Summer is almost here and that means cookouts, pool time, 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 discussed the R22 phase out earlier this year, and production of R22 refrigerant has already decreased by 90%. By 2020, production will be banned. Homeowners now face the choice of whether to repair or to replace a system using R22 refrigerant from both a financial 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 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 conducted research that shows these lower cost alternate refrigerants are not able to work 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 might actually damage the equipment 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 air conditioning industry is seeing the cost to repair older air conditioners needing additional R22 refrigerant go up by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to increase as summer arrives.
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 satisfactory for existing systems, albeit at a much higher cost, providing time to upgrade air conditioners before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners aren’t required to replace their entire system now, but it’s helpful for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s important to know you can’t blend 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. 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 average life-span of many home air conditioning systems is 8 to 10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the increasing 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 improving your home’s energy-efficiency. New equipment will also have longer warranty periods, quieter operation, and the peace of mind of a more ozone-friendly refrigerant, not to mention improved home comfort through more advanced technology.
To ask about your repair or replacement alternatives, call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today at 561-629-1826 today.