The soaring price of a commonly used refrigerant will mean higher A/C repair costs, experts say, adding a bit of gloom to springtime's bloom. The refrigerant known as R-22, which is used in older A/Cs, is being phased out because it eats Earth's protective ozone layer. R-22 A/Cs were made until 2010, & millions still operate.
Homeowners w/R-22 A/Cs are in for a surprise if they have to replace leaking refrigerant: R-22 prices hv bn shooting up since Jan. Recharging an R-22 system might have cost $100 last yr, but now will cost $300 to $350, accor to an industry group, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. "There's been a considerable increase (in the price of R-22 refrigerant)," said Scott Gochnauer, owner of Gochnauer Heating and Air, which serves HH & Bluffton. "R-22 has almost doubled at the wholesale price. It's gone to abt $450 for a 30-lb cylinder from $150 in the last 2-3 wks." Those figures reflect wholesale prices, Gochnauer said. Retail prices homeowners pay are up even more. The cost of R-22 is rising bec there's less of it, experts say. Supplies of R-22 hv been gradually shrinking for yrs under the terms of a 1987 internat’l agmt on ozone-depleting chemicals. Then in Dec, the federal EPA proposed cutting capacity by up to 47% for 2012 to 2014, in part to encourage reuse of existing stocks. That created "a frenzy" that drove prices up, said Charlie McCrudden, VP for gvt relations at the Air Conditioning Contractors of Am. "There's not much anyone can do," said Pat Dennis, owner of D&S Heating & Cooling in Beaufort. "The fed gvt is the 1 causing the problem by phasing it out."
Homeowners w/older, leaky R-22 systems will be faced w/hard choices: Pay higher prices for R-22; replace their old system w/a new 1 that uses a less expensive refrigerant, R-410A; or try of refit the old system so it works w/R-410A. "W/the rising cost of R-22 ... some homeowners are replacing their entire systems w/new ones that are compatible w/the much less expensive refrigerant," said Matt Wilhite, a principal at Blufton-based Howell-Chase Heating & Air Conditioning. The two refrigerants aren't interchangeable. Gochnauer said using the less expensive R-410A refrigerant in a system designed for R-22 "wd be like using diesel fuel in a gasoline engine -- it won't work." Refitting older R-22 systems to make them work w/the cheaper R-410A doesn't always work, Wilhite sd. Replacing a entire system "works better than trying to refit an old system so that it will work with R-410A," he said. "Our business has seen a sharp increase of new equipment sales due to the cost of refitting older R-22 systems to make them work w/R-410A," he said. "W/systems that are compa-tible w/R-410A, our customers are getting quieter & mr efficient systems along w/the newest technologies." Gochnauer said he expects to see more customers replace their systems. He urged homeowners to take the time to understand their systems & ask questions before signing up for repairs or replacements, whether they're considering recharging an older system w/R-22 or replacing the system with a new one.
Dennis, owner of D&S in Beaufort, expects the # of older R-22 systems to translate into a lot of work for repair companies. "There are so many, many, many R-22 systems still out there, he said. "If you walk down the block here, I would be surprised if you found 1 in 10 of the R-410A systems." "I think they will be mr trouble before it's over. It's like gas: You either have to do without it & not pay for it, or pay for it & not complain about it."
If you need a list of good, reputable, A/C contractors, just email me or call me 843-838-0806. I'll be happy to send you a few names.
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