Summer is coming and that means grilling, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioning season and this summer air conditioning system repairs will come with skyrocketing costs for the refrigerant R22, more commonly known as Freon™.
We told you about the R22 phase out earlier this year, and production of R22 refrigerant has already gone down by 90%. By 2020, production will be discontinued. Homeowners, in turn, face the decision of whether to repair or to replace their system using R22 refrigerant from both a money 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 manufacturers are selling less expensive 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 A/C system manufacturers, has offered research that shows these lower cost alternate refrigerants are not compatible 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 conditioners with these alternative refrigerants may actually damage the system 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 rise 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 blended or used in an existing air conditioner 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, allowing time to upgrade air conditioners before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t have to replace their equipment now, but it’s good 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, 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 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 8 to 10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the rising price for R22 to repair older units, versus upgrading. More 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 greater home comfort through more advanced technology.
To learn more about your repair or replacement alternatives, call BW/Cook Service Experts today at 574-218-6404 today.