Know Your Options
Do you have an R22 air conditioner (one that uses the old R22 refrigerant that’s being phased out)? Faced with the rising costs of R22 air conditioner repairs, the decline of available refrigerant supply, and the increase in price of refrigerant, deciding what to do with your system can be a complicated choice. We’re here to help you make the best, most educated choice for your home.
You have choices:
1. RECHARGE WITH R-22
OUT WITH R-22, IN WITH R-410A
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for implementing the R-22 refrigerant phase out for the United States. By January 1, 2010, there was a ban on the production and import of R-22. As a result, manufacturers of heat pump and air conditioning equipment redesigned their systems to accommodate R-41 0A, a chlorine-free refrigerant compared to R-22. The refrigerant would soon replace R-22 in the new HVAC equipment.
EPA regulations require a ban on the production and import of R-22 refrigerant by January 1, 2020. After 2020, any air conditioning or heat pump system using R-22 that requires servicing will have to depend on potentially expensive R-22 stockpiles or reclaimed refrigerant. The new ban on R-22 won’t affect homeowners that want to continue to utilize their functioning R-22 air conditioning systems. However, in the event that that equipment needs to be charged with refrigerant, there will be difficulties.
R-421A – REFRIGERANT FOR TOMORROW
• Unique non-ozone depleting, long-term replacement for R22 refrigerant
• Environmentally GREEN refrigerant
• Replace R22 without unit modification
• Does not contain hydrocarbons, such as Butane, lsopentane or lsobutane
• Replaces R22 with no change of oil
• Usable in compressors designed for R22
• Usable with Mineral, AB or POE oils
Only 2-component blend to replace R22
• Non-flammable; Rated A 1 by ASH RAE
• Comparable to R22 performance temperature range
• Usable in a wide variety of applications
So, how do you go about making that decision to repair or replace your older R22 air conditioner? How can you tell when a piece of equipment has outlived its useful life? Can you get your older unit to last another couple of years by fixing it? Or will you have to keep throwing money into it, especially as the price of R22 continues to skyrocket?
Newer units are more energy efficient and can lower your electric bill, but can you manage the upfront cost? The unfortunate truth is, there is no cut and dried answer. But you can make the best decision to repair, retrofit or replace your R22 air conditioner when you know what factors to consider about your equipment and its history, and whom to trust for advice.
THE RISK FACTOR
Hanging on to an R22 air conditioner until the bitter end January 1, 2020 is when R22 will no longer be available at any price) does pose some risks, especially for a business that relies on air conditioning. When you finally need to replace, how long will you have to wait for a new system because you’re in line with everyone else who is force to replace their R22 air conditioner?
Most residential and light commercial air conditioning units are designed to last about 15 to 20 years under optimal conditions.
Some problems, even though they may seem serious, can actually be easy and relatively inexpensive to fix. Electrical issues often fall into this category. And if your system is making so much noise that you’re afraid it’s about to die, the news may not be as bad as you think. You may just need some maintenance or redesign work.
However, if the compressor has failed, especially on an older R22 air conditioner, it’s often time to replace. The compressor is the heart of the system, and the investment to fix it may not be worth the cost. That’s also true because many times compressor failure is caused by a secondary issue that won’t be discovered until after you replace it.
When it comes to issues that require adding refrigerant to the system (such as a refrigerant leak), the fix might be prohibitively expensive for an R22 air conditioner. In that case, it’s probably time to consider replacement or a retrofit. However, you should know that retrofits are not an option for every system. There are technical variables and you’ll need a
system inspection to determine your options.