Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

April 30, 2017

Summer is on the horizon and that means cookouts, pool time, 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 creation of R22 refrigerant has already gone down by 90%. By 2020, production will be discontinued. Homeowners, in turn, face the decision of whether to repair or to replace their system using R22 refrigerant from both a financial 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 alternatives are cheaper only in the short run.

“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not capable of working with the lubricating oil used in R22 units,” said Dave Moody, Vice President of Marketing at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older A/C systems with these alternative refrigerants may actually damage the system and create more expensive problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also void any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.”

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

New A/C systems 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, of course at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade systems before the phase-out period.

“Homeowners don’t have to replace their entire system now, but it’s helpful for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s essential 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 average life-span of many home A/C systems is 8 to 10 years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the increasing 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 enhancing your home’s energy-efficiency. New equipment 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 ask about your repair or replacement choices, call Freschi Service Experts today at 925-384-1303 today.

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