Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

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

We told you about the R22 phase out earlier this year, and production of R22 refrigerant has already decreased by 90%. By 2020, production will be prohibited. Homeowners, in turn, face the choice of whether to repair or to replace their system using R22 refrigerant from both a money 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 less expensive alternatives to R22, often referred to as “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those replacements are cheaper only in the short run. 

“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioner manufacturers, has offered research that shows these less expensive alternate refrigerants are not able to work 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 conditioning systems with these alternative refrigerants may actually damage the unit 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 go up by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to continue to increase as summer gets closer. 

New air conditioning systems 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, though at a much higher cost, providing time to upgrade systems before the phase-out period. 

“Homeowners aren’t required to replace their equipment now, but it’s important for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s crucial 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. These new units are 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 A/C systems is 8-10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the rising price for R22 to repair older units, versus upgrading. Additional 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 greater home comfort through more advanced technology. 

To find out about your repair or replacement options, call Norrell Service Experts today at 205-267-0023 today. 

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