Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

April 30, 2017

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

We discussed the R22 phase out earlier this year, and production of R22 refrigerant has already dropped by 90%. By 2020, production will be discontinued. Homeowners now 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 A/C system. For instance, some refrigerant producers are selling lower price alternatives to R22, often described as “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those replacements are cheaper only in the short run.

“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, has provided research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not compatible 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 conditioners with these alternative refrigerants could 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 heating and air conditioning 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 continue to increase as summer gets closer.

New A/C 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 satisfactory for existing systems, albeit at a much higher cost, providing time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period.

“Homeowners don’t have to replace their equipment now, but it’s helpful for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s important to know you can’t combine 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. These new units are often far more energy-efficient and can seriously save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”

The typical 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 systems will also have longer warranty periods, calmer 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 Coastal Service Experts today at 912-208-2399 today.

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