The reason why upgrading both your FAU (forced air unit) and AC is so important is that if you do them separately you can only get R-22 but if you get a full system upgrade you can get R-410A.
For more than four decades, the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) industry has relied on refrigerant-22, also known as R-22 and sometimes referred to as Freon, as its primary refrigerant. R-22 is the staple of many air conditioners, as it is the heat-transfer agent that extracts heat from inside your house and transfers it outdoors.
However, when fluorocarbons in R-22 were discovered to deteriorate the earth’s ozone layer, an international mandate created a timetable to remove the refrigerant from use. Originally planned as a gradual process culminating in a complete R-22 refrigerant phase-out by 2020, the timetable has recently been accelerated in proposals by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce 2012 supplies by more than 40 percent over that of 2011. As with any scarce commodity, uncertainty in the supply chain has caused R-22 prices to spike, and also created shortages and caused stockpiling.
How does the R-22 refrigerant phase-out affect you? Well, if your air conditioner is at least 10 years old, it likely utilizes R-22. So here are a few realities confronting homeowners who are facing another summer with aging R-22 cooling equipment:
- You can expect to pay more than three times last year’s prices for an R-22 recharge. Even just topping off your system to nurse it through another summer may produce a startling repair bill. If component replacement necessitates a full recharge, the cost of R-22 alone could exceed total parts and labor.
- While no one can predict supplies during the R-22 refrigerant phase-out, shortages could result in complete unavailability in some regions, especially if a spell of heatwaves impacts a wide area. In this scenario, an air conditioner in need of an R-22 will be converted into an expensive fan that circulates hot air in your residence.
- You should consider upgrading to a system that utilizes R-410A refrigerant, which is an environmentally friendly replacement for R-22. All HVAC equipment manufactured since 2010 uses R-410A. This state-of-the-art equipment is more efficient and offers lower operating costs and higher comfort levels than most R-22 cooling systems. Additionally, R-410A units generally offer longer warranties with more comprehensive coverage.