Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

Summer is almost here and that means grilling, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioner season and this summer air conditioning system repairs will come with rising 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 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 variables to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your air conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers are selling cheaper alternatives to R22, often called “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those replacements are cheaper only in the short run. 

“Lennox®, one of the leading A/C system manufacturers, has offered research that shows these lower cost alternate refrigerants are not able to work with the lubricating oil used in R22 equipment,” said Dave Moody, Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older air conditioners with these alternative refrigerants could actually damage the unit and create more high-cost problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also invalidate any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.” 

Because of the R22 phase out, the heating and cooling 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 increase as summer arrives. 

New air conditioners use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be combined or used in an existing A/C 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 air conditioners before the phase-out period. 

“Homeowners don’t need to replace their air conditioner now, but it’s helpful 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, both the outdoor coil and equipment need replacing, and the interconnecting refrigerant tubing needs inspecting. This new equipment is often far more energy-efficient and can seriously 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 to 10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the rising 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 equipment 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 ask about your repair or replacement options, call Stevenson Service Experts today at 614-334-3192 today. 

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