Summer is almost here and that means backyard barbeques, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioning 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 manufacturing of R22 refrigerant has already gone down by 90%. By 2020, production will be prohibited. Homeowners, in turn, face the challenge of whether to repair or to replace the system using R22 refrigerant from both a financial and environmental perspective.
The R22 phase out has added new variables if you are considering repairing or replacing your air conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling lower price alternatives to R22, often called “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those alternatives 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 capable of working with the lubricating oil used in R22 units,” said Dave Moody, Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older A/C systems with these alternative refrigerants could actually damage the system 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 heating and air conditioning industry is seeing the cost to repair older A/C equipment needing additional R22 refrigerant rise by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to increase as summer gets closer.
New A/C systems use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be mixed or used in an existing air conditioning 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 need to replace their equipment now, but it’s important for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s important to know you can’t mix 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 seriously save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The typical life-span of many home A/C 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 enhancing your home’s energy-efficiency. New systems will also have longer warranty periods, calmer operation, and the peace of mind of a more ozone-friendly refrigerant, not to mention greater home comfort through more advanced technology.
To ask about your repair or replacement alternatives, call Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing today at 866-397-3787 today.
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