Summer is on the horizon and that means backyard barbeques, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioner season and this summer air conditioning system repairs will come with rising 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 discontinued. Homeowners, in turn, 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 conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant creators are selling lower price 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 A/C system manufacturers, has offered 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 might actually damage the equipment and create more high-cost problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also void 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 approaches.
New A/C systems use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be combined or used in an existing air conditioner or heat pump designed for R22. Currently, reclamation and recycling of R22 is expected to be satisfactory for existing systems, of course at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade air conditioners before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t need to replace their air conditioner now, but it’s good 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 coil and equipment need replacing, and the interconnecting refrigerant tubing needs inspecting. These newer systems are often far more energy-efficient and can significantly save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The common life-span of many home air conditioners is 8-10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the rising price for R22 to repair older equipment, versus upgrading. Additional benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and enhancing 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 ask about your repair or replacement alternatives, call Chief/Bauer Service Experts today at 217-689-2469 today.