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Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

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

We talked to 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 challenge of whether to repair or to replace a system using R22 refrigerant from both a money 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 producers are selling less expensive alternatives to R22, often described as “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those alternatives are cheaper only in the short run. 

“Lennox®, one of the leading A/C system manufacturers, has provided research that shows these less expensive alternate refrigerants are not capable of working 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 A/C systems with these alternative refrigerants could actually damage the system and create more high-cost problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also invalidate any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.” 

Because of the R22 phase out, the heating and cooling 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 arrives. 

New air conditioners 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 sufficient for existing systems, albeit at a much higher cost, allowing time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period. 

“Homeowners aren’t required to replace their air conditioner now, but it’s helpful 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 newer systems 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 common life-span of many home air conditioning 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. Further benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and enhancing 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 options, call Stevenson Service Experts today at 614-334-3192 today. 

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