Summer is almost here and that means backyard barbeques, baseball, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioner season and this summer A/C repairs will come with rising 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 decreased by 90%. By 2020, production will be banned. Homeowners, in turn, face the decision 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 variables if you are considering repairing or replacing your air conditioner. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling less expensive 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 offered research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not able to work 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 conditioning systems with these alternative refrigerants could actually damage the unit and create more costly problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also void 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 continue to increase as summer arrives.
New air conditioners use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be blended or used in an existing air conditioning system 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, allowing time to upgrade air conditioners before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t need to replace their equipment now, but it’s good for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s important to know you can’t combine 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 considerably save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The common life-span of many home A/C systems is 8 to 10 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 systems 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 options, call Finch Air Conditioning & Heating today at 281-407-9478 today.