Summer is almost here and that means backyard barbeques, baseball, 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 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 discontinued. Homeowners, in turn, face the choice 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 variables if you are considering repairing or replacing your air conditioner. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling less expensive alternatives to R22, often described as “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those substitutes are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, has provided research that shows these less expensive alternate refrigerants are not able to work 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 conditioning systems with these alternative refrigerants may actually damage the system 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 rise by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to increase as summer arrives.
New air conditioners 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 adequate for existing systems, though at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners aren’t required to replace their equipment now, but it’s important for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s crucial to know you can’t combine 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. 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 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 units, versus upgrading. Additional benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and upgrading 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 better home comfort through more advanced technology.
To find out about your repair or replacement options, call Broad Ripple Service Experts today at 317-527-0271 today.