With the warm weather on the way in a couple of months, if you have an older air conditioner or heat pump you may be faced with a difficult choice should your system require refrigerant work. R-22 is the refrigerant used in most air conditioning/ heat pump systems built before 2010. If your air conditioner was installed on or before that year, chances are good you have R-22 in it.
The U.S. EPA controls the production and import of R-22 refrigerant. Since 2010, EPA rules required the phasing out of this refrigerant. At first the phase down was a little at a time but as of 2020 all production of R-22 has ceased. This has created a huge price increase on all remaining quantities of refrigerant. The cost to recharge an average home air conditioning system is now well over $1000.00. Ten years ago that same service cost about $120.00.
While it is not yet illegal to use R-22, the value of the repair is now at the point where we recommend replacement of the system rather than a recharge.
As a professional company, our goal is to provide the information you need to better know and understand the options that might come up as your air conditioner is serviced in the future.
So what does the future hold for your R-22 air conditioner? Here are my recommendations:
- If in the past you have needed to have your air conditioner or heat pump recharged yearly, expect the repair to be very expensive this year.
- Air conditioners do NOT consume refrigerant – so if found low it is because of a leak.
- While we currently have some stock of R-22 refrigerant, our suppliers stock is currently very low while others are out completely. Once suppliers stock is exhausted, we will not be able to repair R-22 units should the repair require refrigerant. During a summer hot spell, this will cause you to deal with emergency replacement at a most inopportune time.
- If you have an R-22 system now and it needs major repairs, a better value would be to replace it with a new system using the current refrigerant R410a.
- New air conditioning systems are much more efficient electrically than units produced even 10-12 year ago so the replacement will save you money in the long run.
- Start addressing this now rather than waiting until the first hot day as we are experiencing some supply chain delays.