Summer is on the horizon and that means cookouts, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioning season and this summer air conditioner repairs will come with increasing costs for the refrigerant R22, more commonly known as Freon™.
We told you about the R22 phase out earlier this year, and production of R22 refrigerant has already decreased by 90%. By 2020, production will be discontinued. Homeowners, in turn, face the challenge of whether to repair or to replace a system using R22 refrigerant from both a budget and environmental perspective.
The R22 phase out has added new variables if you are considering repairing or replacing your air conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling cheaper alternatives to R22, often described as “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those alternatives are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioner manufacturers, has provided research that shows these lower cost 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 could actually damage the unit and create more high-cost problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also nullify any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.”
Because of the R22 phase out, the heating and cooling industry is seeing the cost to repair older air conditioning systems needing additional R22 refrigerant go up by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to increase as summer gets closer.
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, albeit at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade systems before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t need to replace their entire system now, but it’s good for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s important 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. These newer systems are 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 eight to ten years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the rising price for R22 to repair older units, versus upgrading. More 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 R & M Climate Control Service Experts today at 865-229-6176 today.