Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioning System?

Summer is coming and that means grilling, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioner season and this summer air conditioning system 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 manufacturing of R22 refrigerant has already dropped by 90%. By 2020, production will be banned. 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 air conditioning system. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers 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 A/C system manufacturers, has provided research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not able to work with the lubricating oil used in R22 systems,” said Dave Moody, Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older air conditioning systems with these alternative refrigerants could actually damage the unit and create more expensive 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 conditioning systems needing additional R22 refrigerant increase by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to increase as summer approaches. 

New air conditioners use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be blended or used in an existing A/C system 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, giving homeowners time to upgrade air conditioners before the phase-out period. 

“Homeowners don’t have to replace their air conditioner now, but it’s good 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 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 common life-span of many home air conditioning 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 units, versus upgrading. More benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and enhancing 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 ask about your repair or replacement choices, call Stallion Heating and Air Conditioning today at 215-259-5850 today. 

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