Summer is coming and that means cookouts, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioning season and this summer air conditioner repairs will come with rising costs for the refrigerant R22, more commonly known as Freon™.
We told 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 now face the choice of whether to repair or to replace the system using R22 refrigerant from both a financial 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 producers are selling cheaper alternatives to R22, often described as “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those replacements are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioner manufacturers, has provided research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not capable of working 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 costly problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also nullify any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.”
Because of the R22 phase out, the heating and air conditioning industry is seeing the cost to repair older air conditioners needing additional R22 refrigerant increase by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to keep increasing as summer approaches.
New air conditioners 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 sufficient for existing systems, of course at a much higher cost, allowing time to upgrade equipment 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 significantly save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The typical 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 units, versus upgrading. Further benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and improving your home’s energy-efficiency. New units will also have longer warranty periods, smoother operation, and the peace of mind of a more ozone-friendly refrigerant, not to mention improved home comfort through more advanced technology.
To ask about your repair or replacement choices, call Service Experts Commercial HVAC today at 905-453-6700 today.