If you are headed into this summer season with an old air conditioner that you know has a leak and needs repairs, what do you do?

Should you continue to add the older r22 to it to “get by” one more summer, or should you consider replacing your A/C with a unit that uses the newer r410a refrigerant? Let’s look at what is going on in the industry and why we recommend replacing the old unit.

So, the cost of the older r22 refrigerant (freon) is rising rapidly due to the phase-out of this refrigerant by the year 2020. When we started Leith Heating & Cooling in West Dundee in 2006, the cost was 10 times less than what it is today.

The purpose of the phase-out of r22 is due to the chlorine in the refrigerant when released into the atmosphere, which can destroy ozone, which is a contributor to global warming.

My industry has been aware of the “phase out” since the mid-’90s. At Leith Heating & Cooling, we have always stayed on the front end of the technology and made a decision early on to install systems with the new refrigerant r410a (Puron) in order to protect you from the excessive cost associated to recharge a unit with r22. Since 2010, it was illegal for manufactures to ship residential units with r22 inside them. Manufactures found loopholes in the law which allowed them to still sell units that use r22 and a lot of contractors decided that profits were more important and sold these units, and some still sell them today. I, knowing that the cost would rise to unprecedented levels, made a decision to not install these units in order to prevent you from having to deal with these costs as your unit ages.

A customer in Barrington recently asked me, “What does this mean for me?”.

I discussed with them that, if they have a system that has the older refrigerant and it has needed a “recharge” every season, that it is our recommendation to consider replacement of the air conditioning system in order to prevent putting “good money to bad”. I mentioned that the problem is two-fold. Not only does it cost a lot for the freon, but that their unit’s efficiency drastically drops off as the refrigerant leaks out, which causes an increase in energy costs.

We talked about the benefits of a new A/C system. They are more efficient, quieter, and less costly to repair. I mentioned that a standard efficient unit today (13 SEER) is on average 30% more efficient than a unit that is 15 years old (10 SEER) I brought to their attention the environmental impact of an aging system that requires refrigerant every year. Not only will you do good for the environment by not having an A/C unit leak into the environment destroying the ozone, but you are also going to use less energy with a much more efficient unit.

It’s a win-win.

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