Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

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

We told you about the R22 phase out earlier this year, and creation of R22 refrigerant has already gone down by 90%. By 2020, production will be prohibited. Homeowners, as a result, face the challenge 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 factors to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your air conditioner. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers are selling cheaper 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 conditioning manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not compatible 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 air conditioners with these alternative refrigerants might actually damage the system 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 conditioning systems needing additional R22 refrigerant increase by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to keep increasing as summer gets closer. 

New air conditioners use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be mixed or used in an existing A/C system or heat pump designed for R22. Currently, reclamation and recycling of R22 is expected to be adequate for existing systems, of course at a much higher cost, allowing time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period. 

“Homeowners don’t have to replace their equipment now, but it’s good for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s crucial 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. This new equipment is often far more energy-efficient and can considerably 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 8 to 10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the premium 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 upgrading your home’s energy-efficiency. New systems will also have longer warranty periods, smoother operation, and the peace of mind of a more ozone-friendly refrigerant, not to mention better home comfort through more advanced technology. 

To find out about your repair or replacement alternatives, call Stevenson Service Experts today at 614-334-3192 today. 

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