Why you might need a new air conditioner in 2020

Posted at 5:11 AM, Sep 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-07 10:49:56-04

CINCINNATI -- If your cooling system uses the refrigerant chlorodifluoromethane -- better known under the brand name Freon or the generic name R-22 --  it might be best to part ways with it soon. The ozone-depleting chemical has been slowly phased out of use under the Montreal Protocol, and in 2020 its production in the United States will stop for good.

The beforehand, scarcity will drive up the price of replacements and repairs to R-22-dependent cooling systems.

“We in the industry already knew this was going to happen, but finally it’s creeping up and homeowners are starting to realize it because of the price,” Greg Lamb, a service technician with American Heating and Air Conditioning, said. 

A pound of R-22 can cost up to $175 already, according to home services business directory Angie’s List. It will only become more expensive as less and less of the substance is produced. Repairing a leaking cooling unit that relies on R-22 is almost not worth the cost, Lamb said.

“Even if we did do a leak repair, it would be almost half the price of a new unit,” he said. “Then you still have that R-22 refrigerant in the system, which in two years I won’t even be able to buy.”

Lamb recommended that homeowners who are currently experiencing problems with R-22 cooling systems make the switch to those that use Puron -- R-410A -- which is safer for the environment. The planet and your wallet will thank you.