Summer is on the horizon and that means cookouts, 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 production of R22 refrigerant has already gone down by 90%. By 2020, production will be prohibited. Homeowners now face the challenge of whether to repair or to replace a system using R22 refrigerant from both a financial and environmental perspective.
The R22 phase out has added new factors to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your A/C system. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling lower price alternatives to R22, often referred to as “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those alternatives are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, has offered research that shows these lower cost alternate refrigerants are not compatible with the lubricating oil used in R22 units,” said Dave Moody, Vice President of Marketing at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older air conditioners with these alternative refrigerants may actually damage the system and create more expensive 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 air conditioners needing additional R22 refrigerant rise by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to continue to increase as summer arrives.
New A/C systems use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be combined 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, though at a much higher cost, allowing time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t have to replace their equipment now, but it’s important for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s essential to know you can’t combine 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 newer systems 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 conditioning systems is 8-10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the premium 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, 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 options, call Pardee today at 843-410-6103 today.