Summer is coming and that means grilling, baseball, and warmer weather. It also means cooling season and this summer air conditioning system repairs will come with skyrocketing costs for the refrigerant R22, more commonly known as Freon™.
We discussed the R22 phase out earlier this year, and production of R22 refrigerant has already dropped by 90%. By 2020, production will be discontinued. Homeowners, as a result, face the decision of whether to repair or to replace their 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 A/C system. For instance, some refrigerant creators are selling less expensive alternatives to R22, often called “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those substitutes are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, has offered research that shows these lower cost alternate refrigerants are not compatible 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 conditioners with these alternative refrigerants may actually damage the system 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 heating and air conditioning industry is seeing the cost to repair older air conditioners needing additional R22 refrigerant go up by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to keep increasing as summer arrives.
New A/C 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 satisfactory for existing systems, of course at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade air conditioners before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners don’t have to replace their air conditioner now, but it’s important for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s essential 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 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 typical life-span of many home A/C systems is eight to ten years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the increasing 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 upgrading your home’s energy-efficiency. New equipment will also have longer warranty periods, calmer 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 Niagara Home Services by Enercare today at 289-273-2229 today.