Summer is coming and that means backyard barbeques, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means cooling season and this summer A/C 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 dropped by 90%. By 2020, production will be banned. Homeowners, in turn, face the decision of whether to repair or to replace their 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 conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant creators are selling less expensive alternatives to R22, often referred to as “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those alternatives are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading A/C system manufacturers, has offered research that shows these lower cost 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 conditioners with these alternative refrigerants may actually damage the system and create more high-cost problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also invalidate any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.”
Because of the R22 phase out, the heating and air conditioning 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 keep increasing as summer arrives.
New air conditioning systems 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 adequate for existing systems, albeit at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade air conditioners before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t need to replace their air conditioner now, but it’s good for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s crucial to know you can’t combine 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 new units 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 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 premium price for R22 to repair older systems, versus upgrading. More benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and enhancing 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 better home comfort through more advanced technology.
To ask about your repair or replacement choices, call Hammond Plumbing & Heating today at 226-240-1120 today.