Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

April 30, 2017

Summer is on the horizon and that means cookouts, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioner season and this summer A/C 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 gone down by 90%. By 2020, production will be prohibited. Homeowners, in turn, face the challenge of whether to repair or to replace the system using R22 refrigerant from both a money and environmental perspective.

The R22 phase out has added new factors to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your A/C system. For instance, some refrigerant creators are selling cheaper 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 air conditioner manufacturers, has provided research that shows these lower cost alternate refrigerants are not able to work with the lubricating oil used in R22 units,” 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 nullify any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.”

Because of the R22 phase out, the heating and air conditioning industry is seeing the cost to repair older air conditioning systems needing additional R22 refrigerant rise 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 combined or used in an existing air conditioner or heat pump designed for R22. Currently, reclamation and recycling of R22 is expected to be sufficient 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 entire system now, but it’s important for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s important to know you can’t mix 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 common life-span of many home air conditioners is eight to ten years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the rising price for R22 to repair older systems, 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 units will also have longer warranty periods, quieter operation, and the peace of mind of a more ozone-friendly refrigerant, not to mention improved home comfort through more advanced technology.

To ask about your repair or replacement options, call Parker Pearce Service Experts today at 301-476-4577 today.

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