Summer is coming and that means backyard barbeques, baseball, and warmer weather. It also means cooling season and this summer air conditioner repairs will come with skyrocketing 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, as a result, 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 variables to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your A/C system. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling cheaper 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 conditioning manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these less expensive alternate refrigerants are not compatible 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 costly 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 continue to increase as summer arrives.
New air conditioning systems use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be blended 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, of course at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade air conditioners before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t need to replace their entire system 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 equipment and coil need replacing, and the interconnecting refrigerant tubing needs inspecting. These new units 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 average life-span of many home air conditioners is 8 to 10 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 equipment 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 choices, call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today at 321-428-7635 today.