Summer is coming and that means cookouts, baseball, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioner season and this summer air conditioning system repairs will come with skyrocketing 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 decreased by 90%. By 2020, production will be banned. Homeowners, as a result, face the decision of whether to repair or to replace a system using R22 refrigerant from both a money and environmental perspective.
The R22 phase out has added new variables to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your air conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers are selling lower price alternatives to R22, often called “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those substitutes 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 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 high-cost problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also nullify any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.”
Because of the R22 phase out, the heating and cooling industry is seeing the cost to repair older air conditioners needing additional R22 refrigerant go up by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to increase as summer approaches.
New air conditioners use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be blended 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, though at a much higher cost, allowing time to upgrade systems before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t have to replace their entire system now, but it’s helpful for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s essential 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. 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 average life-span of many home A/C systems is 8 to 10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the increasing price for R22 to repair older equipment, versus upgrading. Further 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 find out about your repair or replacement options, call Levy & Son Service Experts today at 469-250-0932 today.