Summer is on the horizon and that means backyard barbeques, pool time, 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 talked to you about the R22 phase out earlier this year, and production 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 the system using R22 refrigerant from both a financial and environmental perspective.
The R22 phase out has added new variables to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your air conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant creators are selling less expensive 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 conditioner manufacturers, has offered research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not compatible with the lubricating oil used in R22 systems,” 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 high-cost problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also invalidate any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.”
Because of the R22 phase out, the heating and cooling industry is seeing the cost to repair older air conditioning systems needing additional R22 refrigerant go up 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 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, albeit at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners aren’t required to replace their air conditioner now, but it’s important 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, the outdoor equipment and outdoor coil both need replacing, and the interconnecting refrigerant tubing needs inspecting. This new equipment is often far more energy-efficient and can seriously save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The average life-span of many home air conditioning systems is 8-10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the increasing price for R22 to repair older units, versus upgrading. Further 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, 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 choices, call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today at 801-396-0637 today.