Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Action Line: Subbing for R-22 refrigerant may be risky

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

 Dear Action Line: With the Freon shortage, is it advisable to use the cheaper blends of recycled refrigerants that some AC contractors are pushing these days?  -  B.R., Tulsa.

Weather scientists say this summer is likely to be one of the hottest on record, meaning most of us will have no options but to use air conditioning to survive. Recent reports of R-22 shortages, and the resulting price spike, will drive service companies and consumers to the cheaper refrigerants available. But in some cases, they can actually damage air conditioners and void their warranties, said Bill Cunningham, senior product manager at Service Experts, the nation's largest heating and air conditioning service company.

"Before deciding on which refrigerant to use to recharge a home's system this year, it is  worthwhile to call your system's manufacturer to check the options. Consumers face an alphabet soup of alternative refrigerants: R407c, R422 and R438A (aka ISCEON M099). This will be confusing to homeowners and costly when they don't know their ABCs.

"Some air conditioners installed prior to 2010 are likely based on R-22 refrigerant (Freon brand). When new refrigerant is needed during repairs, there is only one real solution  -  R-22 must be replaced with R-22, otherwise you run the risk of voiding the manufacturer warranty and possibly damaging the entire system.

"With the price of R-22 dramatically increasing due to a planned Environmental Protection Agency phase-out, some refrigerant manufacturers have begun selling cheaper alternatives," he said. "EPA regulations, mandated by the federal Clean Air Act following congressional ratification of the Montreal Protocol, greatly limit production of AC units using R-22 in 2010. The regulations call for phase out of R-22 by 2020, putting upward pressure on the price of the refrigerant," Cunningham said.

That makes the alternatives cheaper but only in the short run. If you let your service technician recharge your R-22 system with one of the alternatives, you could void your AC warranty and even damage your system.

Cunningham noted that Lennox, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, did research showing these cheaper alternatives are not compatible with the lubricating oil used in R-22 units. Recharging older AC with alternative refrigerants may actually degrade their performance and void any remaining warranty.

"We've instructed our 2,500 technicians servicing and repairing older AC systems this spring in our Precision Tune-Up program to follow the manufacturer's recommendations and use only R-22 when recharging R-22 systems," said Cunningham.

Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, Dallas, is North America's largest heating and AC brand, with over 108 locations (including Tulsa) serving 2,100 homes and businesses per day.

Service Experts branches provide heating repair, AC repair, indoor air quality sales, HVAC system sales and installation, HVAC maintenance and HVAC repair service for both residential and commercial HVAC markets.
Original Print Headline: Subbing for R-22 refrigerant may be risky
Read more from this Tulsa World article at

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