Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

April 30, 2017

Summer is almost here and that means backyard barbeques, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioning 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 dropped by 90%. By 2020, production will be banned. Homeowners now face the decision of whether to repair or to replace their 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 producers are selling lower price alternatives to R22, often referred to as “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 lower cost 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 costly problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also void 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 rise by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to continue to increase as summer arrives.

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 sufficient for existing systems, albeit at a much higher cost, allowing time to upgrade air conditioners before the phase-out period.

“Homeowners don’t have to replace their entire system now, but it’s important for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s essential to know you can’t combine 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 common life-span of many home air conditioning 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 enhancing your home’s energy-efficiency. New systems 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 learn more about your repair or replacement options, call Norrell Service Experts today at 205-267-0023 today.

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