Summer is on the horizon and that means cookouts, baseball, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioning season and this summer A/C 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 production of R22 refrigerant has already gone down by 90%. By 2020, production will be discontinued. Homeowners, as a result, face the decision 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 to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your air conditioner. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling lower price alternatives to R22, often described 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 compatible with the lubricating oil used in R22 equipment,” said Dave Moody, Vice President of Marketing at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older A/C systems with these alternative refrigerants might actually damage the equipment and create more expensive problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also nullify 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 increase by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to increase as summer approaches.
New A/C systems use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be blended 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, albeit at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade air conditioners 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 crucial 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. These newer systems are 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 air conditioners is eight to ten years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the premium 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 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 greater home comfort through more advanced technology.
To learn more about your repair or replacement alternatives, call Rolf Griffin Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today at 260-557-1275 today.