Summer is on the horizon and that means cookouts, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioning season and this summer A/C repairs will come with skyrocketing 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 dropped 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 factors to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your A/C system. For instance, some refrigerant creators 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 conditioner manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these cheaper 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 A/C systems with these alternative refrigerants may actually damage the system 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 HVAC industry is seeing the cost to repair older A/C equipment needing additional R22 refrigerant go up by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to keep increasing as summer approaches.
New air conditioners use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be blended or used in an existing A/C system or heat pump designed for R22. Currently, reclamation and recycling of R22 is expected to be adequate for existing systems, though at a much higher cost, allowing time to upgrade systems before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t need to replace their air conditioner now, but it’s helpful for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s crucial 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 new units are often far more energy-efficient and can significantly save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The average 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. Additional 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, smoother operation, and the peace of mind of a more ozone-friendly refrigerant, not to mention better home comfort through more advanced technology.
To find out about your repair or replacement options, call Golden Seal Service Experts today at 630-246-2698 today.