Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

Summer is coming and that means backyard barbeques, baseball, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioning season and this summer air conditioner repairs will come with skyrocketing 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, in turn, face the decision of whether to repair or to replace a 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 conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling lower price alternatives to R22, often called “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those replacements are cheaper only in the short run. 

“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioner manufacturers, has provided research that shows these lower cost alternate refrigerants are not capable of working with the lubricating oil used in R22 units,” said Dave Moody, Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older A/C systems with these alternative refrigerants might actually damage the unit 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 cooling industry is seeing the cost to repair older air conditioning systems needing additional R22 refrigerant go up by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to continue to increase as summer gets closer. 

New air conditioning 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, of course at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period. 

“Homeowners don’t need to replace their entire system 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, both the outdoor coil and equipment 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 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 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 systems 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 learn more about your repair or replacement alternatives, call Stevenson Service Experts today at 614-334-3192 today. 

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