Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

April 30, 2017

Summer is almost here and that means grilling, baseball, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioning season and this summer air conditioning system repairs will come with skyrocketing costs for the refrigerant R22, more commonly known as Freon™.

We discussed the R22 phase out earlier this year, and creation of R22 refrigerant has already decreased by 90%. By 2020, production will be discontinued. Homeowners now face the challenge of whether to repair or to replace the 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 A/C system. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers are selling lower price 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 conditioner manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not capable of working with the lubricating oil used in R22 equipment,” said Dave Moody, Vice President of Marketing at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older air conditioning systems with these alternative refrigerants could actually damage the unit and create more high-cost problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also nullify 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 conditioners needing additional R22 refrigerant go up by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to increase as summer approaches.

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

“Homeowners don’t have to replace their air conditioner 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, the outdoor equipment and outdoor coil both need replacing, and the interconnecting refrigerant tubing needs inspecting. These new units 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 average life-span of many home air conditioners is 8-10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the premium price for R22 to repair older units, versus upgrading. Further benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and improving 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 better home comfort through more advanced technology.

To ask about your repair or replacement choices, call Donelson Air Service Experts today at 615-953-9885 today.

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