If you need to have coolant added to your air conditioner this summer, brace yourself; you might be in for a shock. The cost for fixing that leak could cost you more than in years past.
The reason for the cost increase can actually be traced back to action taken by the federal government 25 years ago.
In 1987, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered the phasing out of certain ozone-depleting refrigerants as part of the Montreal Protocol. The act calls for 90 percent of R-22 coolant, commonly called “Freon,” to be phased out by 2015 and to be virtually obsolete by 2020.
Most air conditioners manufactured before 2010 use the coolant. The new EPA-approved coolant, known as R-410A, does not work with the R-22 equipment.
The rate increase is sure to pose issues for homeowners with older, leaky equipment. Many are faced with the prospect of continuing to invest in higher repair costs for older equipment, or taking the plunge and replacing the equipment with a newer, more efficient system that uses the new coolant.
Homeowner opting for repair should be prepared to also pay additional costs to cover service, labor and any other parts necessary.
For homeowners who don’t want to invest in an entirely new system but also don’t want to keep investing in repairs, some manufacturers have circumvented the EPA guidelines, which called for an end to production of A/C units “charged”, or filled, with R-22, by producing units that use the old coolant but don’t come charged with it. These are often called “dry” units. Though these units generally cost less than a whole new system, consumers will still have to fill them with the old refrigerant, which is only likely to only get more expensive in the years to come.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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