Short-Term Savings On Air Conditioner Refrigerant Could Create Long-Term Problems
When it comes to repairing older air conditioning systems this spring, consumers could be facing an alphabet soup of alternative refrigerants with names like R407c, R422 and R438A (aka ISCEON M099). This will definitely be confusing to homeowers – and costly – if they aren’t aware of the basic ABCs.
Some air conditioners installed prior to 2010 may use R-22 refrigerant (which also goes by the more common brand name Freon™). When new refrigerant is needed during repairs, there is only one real solution; R-22 must be replaced with R-22, otherwise there’s risk of voiding the manufacturer’s warranty and possibly damaging the entire system.
That’s the word from Bill Cunningham, senior product manager at Service Experts, the nation’s largest heating and air conditioning service company. “With the price of R-22 dramatically increasing due to a planned Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) phase-out, some refrigerant manufacturers have begun selling cheaper alternatives,” he said.
EPA regulations greatly limited the production of products that use R-22 in 2010 and now call for the eventual phase out of R-22 by 2020, which is putting upward pressure on the price of the refrigerant, Cunningham noted.
“That makes the alternatives cheaper but only in the short run. If you let your service technician recharge your R-22 system with one of the alternatives, you could void your air conditioner warranty and possibly even damage your system.”
Cunningham noted that Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not compatible with the lubricating oil used in R-22 units. Recharging older air conditioners with with these alternative refrigerants may actually degrade a unit’s performance and, may void the remaining warranty of the unit.
“As a result, we’ve instructed our 2,500 technicians who service and repair an older air conditioning systems during our spring ‘Precision Tune-Up’ program to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and use only R-22 when they recharge R-22 systems,” said Cunningham.
Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, based in Dallas, Texas, is North America's largest heating and air conditioning brand, with over 108 locations serving more than 2,100 homes and businesses per day. Service Experts branches provide heating repair, air conditioning repair, indoor air quality sales, HVAC system sales and installation, HVAC maintenance and HVAC repair service for both the residential and commercial HVAC markets. Find Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning at on.fb.me/serviceexperts or at ServiceExperts.com.
Release date: 5/2/2012