Summer is coming and that means grilling, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioner season and this summer air conditioner 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 decreased by 90%. By 2020, production will be discontinued. Homeowners now 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 air conditioner. For instance, some refrigerant creators are selling less expensive 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 offered research that shows these less expensive alternate refrigerants are not able to work with the lubricating oil used in R22 systems,” 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 HVAC industry is seeing the cost to repair older A/C equipment needing additional R22 refrigerant rise by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to increase as summer gets closer.
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, allowing time to upgrade systems before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t need 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 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 seriously save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The average life-span of many home air conditioners is eight to ten years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the increasing price for R22 to repair older systems, versus upgrading. Additional benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and upgrading your home’s energy-efficiency. New systems will also have longer warranty periods, smoother 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 Stevenson Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today at 937-503-7896 today.