Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

April 30, 2017

Summer is on the horizon and that means grilling, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioning season and this summer air conditioner repairs will come with rising costs for the refrigerant R22, more commonly known as Freon™.

We told you about the R22 phase out earlier this year, and manufacturing of R22 refrigerant has already gone down by 90%. By 2020, production will be discontinued. Homeowners, as a result, face the choice of whether to repair or to replace a system using R22 refrigerant from both a financial and environmental perspective.

The R22 phase out has added new variables to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your A/C system. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling lower price alternatives to R22, often described as “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 cheaper alternate refrigerants are not compatible with the lubricating oil used in R22 systems,” said Dave Moody, Vice President of Marketing at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older air conditioning 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 air conditioning systems needing additional R22 refrigerant rise by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to increase as summer gets closer.

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 adequate for existing systems, albeit at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period.

“Homeowners aren’t required to replace their entire system now, but it’s important 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, 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 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 rising price for R22 to repair older equipment, versus upgrading. Further benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and upgrading 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 improved home comfort through more advanced technology.

To find out about your repair or replacement options, call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today at 239-908-6991 today.

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