Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

April 30, 2017

Summer is almost here and that means cookouts, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioning season and this summer A/C repairs will come with rising costs for the refrigerant R22, more commonly known as Freon™.

We discussed the R22 phase out earlier this year, and manufacturing of R22 refrigerant has already dropped by 90%. By 2020, production will be discontinued. Homeowners, in turn, face the choice 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 to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your A/C system. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers are selling lower price 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 offered research that shows these less expensive alternate refrigerants are not able to work 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 might actually damage the equipment and create more costly problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also invalidate 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 conditioners needing additional R22 refrigerant increase by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to keep increasing as summer gets closer.

New A/C 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 satisfactory for existing systems, though at a much higher cost, giving homeowners 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 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 seriously save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”

The typical life-span of many home air conditioning systems is eight to ten years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the premium 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 improving your home’s energy-efficiency. New equipment will also have longer warranty periods, quieter 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 alternatives, call Jack Nelson Service Experts today at 918-212-8927 today.

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