Summer is on the horizon and that means cookouts, 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 talked to you about the R22 phase out earlier this year, and manufacturing of R22 refrigerant has already dropped by 90%. By 2020, production will be prohibited. Homeowners, in turn, face the choice of whether to repair or to replace their system using R22 refrigerant from both a budget and environmental perspective.
The R22 phase out has added new factors to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your air conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant creators are selling cheaper alternatives to R22, often called “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those replacements are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading A/C system manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these lower cost 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 expensive 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 approaches.
New air conditioning systems 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 adequate for existing systems, though at a much higher cost, providing time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t have to replace their equipment 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, 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 seriously 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 find out about your repair or replacement choices, call Strand Brothers Service Experts today at 512-596-1257 today.