Many customers have asked us what is the difference between R-22 and R-410a refrigerant, and what are the changes coming in 2010 concerning these two refrigerants. In short, R-22 has been the refrigerant of choice in residential equipment for over 40 years. However, it has been found that R-22 is a contributing factor to global warming. Beginning in 1987 with the first signing of the Montreal Protocol, R-22 was on the list to be phased out by 2040. However, over the years this timetable has been shortened to where we are today. As of January 1, 2010, all new equipment manufactured in the United States for residential heating and air conditioning will no longer use R-22. The industry has decided on R-410A as the refrigerant of choice in their new equipment. How does this impact you the consumer? In short, you will need to spend a little more time looking over your available options when it comes to repairing refrigeration leaks in your present system. For years R-22 was readily available. Average cost to you the consumer was $2-$3 a lb. However, as the industry has prepared to switch over to R-410A and with the production of R-22 being reduced, the cost for R-22 has gone up considerable in the past few years. Average price in our area is anywhere between $15-$30 per lb., depending on the contractor you use. In the "old days" if your unit was a little low on refrigerant, your service tech would add some refrigerant to get you through the summer. An average 3-ton system takes around 7 lbs. of refrigerant. In the past, if your service company charged you $75 for the call and you needed 7 lbs. of refrigerant, the total bill would be $89. That same bill today may be as high as $285.
The number one area for leaks is the evaporative coil. This is the coil in your heat pump air handler or mounted to your gas furnace. Very rarely is the leak repairable. Normally, you will need to replace the coil. What must be considered now is the age of the system. Do you want to repair an older system using R-22 refrigerant? Or would you be better served by putting that money toward a new system that uses R-410A refrigerant. Our advice is that if there is no remaining warranty on the equipment, you would be better served to upgrade your system and convert to a R-410A system. However, if there is warranty then you may consider staying with your R-22 systems. The decision will have a great deal to do with your plans for the future. Do you plan to stay in the house and for how long?
Obviously our industry is in a state of change. Unfortunately not all the answers you are looking for are clear cut. However, if you need help, just give us a call and we will present every option that is available to you.
Hopefully this information has been helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to call us at 648-0387.
You may also contact us with any questions or concerns.
Finally, if you have a question that you would liked answered,
e-mail it to us and we will answer it in a future column.