Summer is coming and that means backyard barbeques, baseball, and warmer weather. It also means cooling season and this summer air conditioner repairs will come with increasing costs for the refrigerant R22, more commonly known as Freon™.
We discussed the R22 phase out earlier this year, and manufacturing 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 money 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 creators are selling lower price 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 conditioner manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these less expensive alternate refrigerants are not capable of working 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 might actually damage the equipment and create more expensive 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 rise by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected 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 conditioner 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, providing time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners aren’t required to replace their air conditioner now, but it’s helpful for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s crucial 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. This new equipment is often far more energy-efficient and can seriously 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 premium price for R22 to repair older units, versus upgrading. Additional benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and enhancing your home’s energy-efficiency. New equipment will also have longer warranty periods, quieter 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 alternatives, call TML Service Experts today at 208-488-4892 today.