Summer is coming 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 creation of R22 refrigerant has already gone down by 90%. By 2020, production will be banned. Homeowners, as a result, face the decision of whether to repair or to replace the 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 conditioner. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling cheaper alternatives to R22, often referred to as “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those substitutes are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, has conducted 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 expensive 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 conditioning systems needing additional R22 refrigerant go up by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to increase as summer gets closer.
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 sufficient for existing systems, of course at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade air conditioners before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners aren’t required to replace their equipment now, but it’s helpful for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s crucial 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. 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 A/C systems 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. Further 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 greater home comfort through more advanced technology.
To learn more about your repair or replacement options, call Abbey Air Service Experts today at 289-813-5566 today.