Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

April 30, 2017

Summer is on the horizon and that means grilling, baseball, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioner 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 decreased by 90%. By 2020, production will be banned. Homeowners, in turn, face the challenge 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 if you are considering repairing or replacing your air conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers are selling lower price 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 conditioning manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not compatible with the lubricating oil used in R22 systems,” said Dave Moody, Vice President of Marketing at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older air conditioners with these alternative refrigerants might actually damage the equipment and create more high-cost 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 increase 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 blended 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, of course at a much higher cost, giving homeowners time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period.

“Homeowners don’t need to replace their equipment now, but it’s important for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s essential to know you can’t blend 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 newer systems 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 typical life-span of many home air conditioners is eight to ten 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 upgrading your home’s energy-efficiency. New units will also have longer warranty periods, quieter 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 alternatives, call Wesley Wood Service Experts today at 484-401-7577 today.

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