GBT Heating & Cooling

Escalating Cost of R22 Refrigerant Will Increase Cost of A/C Service

An unexpected series of events began last week (1/23/2012) that has caused the price I have to pay for  R22 refrigerant to double.

Some Background: Those of you that have had recent A/C replacements within the past 7 years will not be impacted…if the system that was replaced contains the “new” refrigerant.  Approximately 7-years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated that manufacturer’s begin using R410a refrigerant in the manufacture of new heating and air conditioning systems.  This EPA mandate started as a voluntary until January 1, 2010 when all newly manufactured newly manufactured systems were required to utilize the “new” refrigerant.

What caused the change to the “new” refrigerant?   The new refrigerant (R410a) is more environmentally friendly than the “old” refrigerant (R22).  The “new” refrigerant, R410a, is a non-ozone depleting substitute refrigerant.

Why the price spikes? Part of the EPA mandate included a “phase-out” of the manufacture of R22 refrigerant, allowing diminishing quantities of R22 to be produced in future years.  The price spikes that have occurred since 1/23/2012 result from EPA allocation rules that have not yet been put into place for 2012.  To say that the price for the old refrigerant (R22) is unstable at the time of this post is an understatement.  The distributors that supply refrigerant to heating and air conditioning contractors like us are finding that it is difficult to obtain quantities of R22 from their suppliers.   The entire supply chain of R22 refrigerant is in a state of chaos.

What does this mean to the consumers when their heating and air conditioners need refrigerant? Heating and air conditioning dealers like myself are forced to double their refrigerant cost to consumers to reflect the current conditions of the cost of products used in repairing and servicing heating and A/C equipment.

And there is another “technical” concern that some dealers may deploy to reduce their cost of service…  There are refrigerants available today that are claimed to be suitable REPLACEMENTS for R22 that will cost less than R22.  If these replacement refrigerants are used (in lieu of R22), manufacturers can void warranty claims, if a claim is submitted for a failed part after the substitute refrigerant (also referenced as “drop-in” refrigerants).   I refuse to confront a denied warranty claim servicing your system that will ultimately cause dissatisfaction because I tried to save a few dollars using a replacement refrigerant.

How can YOU tell if your air conditioning system utilizes R22 or R410a refrigerant? I suggest taking a trip to look at the name plate information on your outdoor heating and air conditioning unit(s).  The name plate will likely identify the refrigerant and the number of pounds required for the system.  Or, look for the model number.  It is likely that one of the first digits in the model number will contain a 2 (for R22) or a 4 for (R410a).

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February 1, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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