Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

April 30, 2017

Summer is almost here and that means cookouts, pool time, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioner season and this summer A/C repairs will come with increasing costs for the refrigerant R22, more commonly known as Freon™.

We talked to you about the R22 phase out earlier this year, and production of R22 refrigerant has already gone down by 90%. By 2020, production will be discontinued. Homeowners now face the challenge 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 factors to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your A/C system. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling cheaper alternatives to R22, often called “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those substitutes are cheaper only in the short run.

“Lennox®, one of the leading A/C system manufacturers, has offered research that shows these less expensive alternate refrigerants are not able to work with the lubricating oil used in R22 systems,” 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 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 A/C equipment needing additional R22 refrigerant go up by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to continue to increase as summer approaches.

New A/C systems use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be combined 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, albeit at a much higher cost, providing time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period.

“Homeowners aren’t required to replace their equipment now, but it’s good for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s important 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 newer systems 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 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 systems, versus upgrading. Further 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 better home comfort through more advanced technology.

To ask about your repair or replacement choices, call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today at 303-647-5749 today.

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