Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

April 30, 2017

Summer is almost here and that means grilling, pool time, and warmer weather. It also means cooling season and this summer air conditioner 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 creation of R22 refrigerant has already gone down by 90%. By 2020, production will be prohibited. Homeowners, as a result, 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 air conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers are selling less expensive alternatives to R22, often referred to 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 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 may actually damage the system 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 conditioners needing additional R22 refrigerant go up 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 air conditioner or heat pump designed for R22. Currently, reclamation and recycling of R22 is expected to be adequate for existing systems, albeit at a much higher cost, providing time to upgrade air conditioners 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 important to know you can’t blend 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 equiopment is often far more energy-efficient and can considerably 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 rising price for R22 to repair older equipment, versus upgrading. More benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and improving your home’s energy-efficiency. New systems will also have longer warranty periods, smoother operation, and the peace of mind of a more ozone-friendly refrigerant, not to mention improved home comfort through more advanced technology.

To learn more about your repair or replacement choices, call Sunbeam Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning today at 716-427-6807 today.

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