Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

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 increasing 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 banned. Homeowners, in turn, face the choice 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 to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your air conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers are selling less expensive alternatives to R22, often called “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those alternatives are cheaper only in the short run. 

“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioner manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these lower cost alternate refrigerants are not compatible with the lubricating oil used in R22 systems,” said Dave Moody, Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older air conditioning systems with these alternative refrigerants could actually damage the equipment and create more costly problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also nullify any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.” 

Because of the R22 phase out, the HVAC industry is seeing the cost to repair older air conditioners needing additional R22 refrigerant increase by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to keep increasing as summer approaches. 

New A/C systems 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, of course at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade systems before the phase-out period. 

“Homeowners don’t need to replace their air conditioner now, but it’s helpful 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, both the outdoor equipment and coil need replacing, and the interconnecting refrigerant tubing needs inspecting. These new units are often far more energy-efficient and can considerably save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.” 

The average life-span of many home air conditioners is 8-10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the rising price for R22 to repair older equipment, 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 units 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 Stevenson Service Experts today at 614-334-3192 today. 

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