Summer is on the horizon and that means grilling, pool time, and warmer weather. It also means cooling season and this summer air conditioner repairs will come with rising 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 gone down by 90%. By 2020, production will be prohibited. 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 if you are considering repairing or replacing your air conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers are selling lower price alternatives to R22, often described as “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those replacements are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these lower cost 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 conditioners with these alternative refrigerants could actually damage the unit and create more costly problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also void any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.”
Because of the R22 phase out, the HVAC industry is seeing the cost to repair older air conditioning systems needing additional R22 refrigerant increase by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to increase as summer arrives.
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 satisfactory 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 equipment 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, both the outdoor coil and equipment need replacing, and the interconnecting refrigerant tubing needs inspecting. This new equipment is often far more energy-efficient and can considerably save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The common 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 rising price for R22 to repair older equipment, 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 units will also have longer warranty periods, smoother operation, and the peace of mind of a more ozone-friendly refrigerant, not to mention improved home comfort through more advanced technology.
To learn more about your repair or replacement alternatives, call D.A. Bennett Service Experts today at 518-205-3324 today.