Summer is on the horizon and that means backyard barbeques, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means cooling 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 manufacturing of R22 refrigerant has already dropped by 90%. By 2020, production will be prohibited. Homeowners now 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 A/C system. For instance, some refrigerant creators are selling cheaper 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 provided research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not capable of working 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 might actually damage the equipment 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 heating and air conditioning industry is seeing the cost to repair older A/C equipment needing additional R22 refrigerant go up by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to continue to increase as summer arrives.
New A/C systems use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be mixed 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, giving homeowners time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners aren’t required to replace their entire system now, but it’s important 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, 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 significantly save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The common life-span of many home air conditioning systems 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 units 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 choices, call Strand Brothers Service Experts today at 512-596-1257 today.