Summer is coming and that means grilling, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioning 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 creation of R22 refrigerant has already decreased by 90%. By 2020, production will be prohibited. Homeowners, in turn, face the decision of whether to repair or to replace their 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 A/C system. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling cheaper alternatives to R22, often referred to as “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those replacements are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioner manufacturers, has offered research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not capable of working 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 could actually damage the unit 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 increase by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to continue to increase as summer gets closer.
New air conditioning systems use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be combined or used in an existing A/C 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 equipment before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t need to replace their entire system 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 equipment and coil 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 air conditioners is eight to ten years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the premium 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 enhancing 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 greater home comfort through more advanced technology.
To find out about your repair or replacement choices, call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today at 352-414-4006 today.