Repair or Replace A/C with Low Refrigerant?

Repair or Replace A/C with Low Refrigerant?

What to Know About R-22 and Older Air Conditioners

You’re calling for help with your A/C again and even as you dial, you know the news isn’t going to be particularly good. They told you last year that your cooling system would need to be replaced soon. If your A/C is suffering from low R-22 refrigerant due to age or a small leak, the days are numbered.

A/C Issues Start on a Hot Day

A/C wonIt never fails, the first heat wave of the season is when your A/C will decide to go offline. You start by checking your indoor and outdoor system and come up with these observations:

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  • The unit is running almost continually, however the temperature indoors is rising as well.
  • The unit becomes noisier as it runs longer.
  • You run your hand over the vent inside and the air is warm, despite the thermostat being set to 65 degrees

Chances are your refrigerant is either leaking or low due to age. Over time, refrigerant needs to be added to keep your air conditioner doing it’s main function, cooling air from the outside to be sent throughout your home.

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Repair or What is the best way to replace your air conditioner?

The age of your system will determine the answer to this question. R410A is required if your air conditioner was installed after 2010. This coolant is better for the environment and can be purchased at a reasonable price.

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If installed decades ago, your system definitely relies on R-22, better known as “Freon” to cool and “condition” air. R-22 was found to be harmful to the ozone and has been phased out of the EPA’s air conditioning system. Since then, the price of this common refrigerant is increasing as a result of low supply.

Typical Refrigerant Repairs:

  • Low on refrigerant due to use/age and needs charged.
  • Rechargeable coil if the coil is leaking.

The cost of a part or refrigerant charge used to be a few hundred bucks. Now it is in the thousands. R-22 can now cost up to $100+ per pound in Washington. Your system will likely require 6-12 pounds to fully charge.

A recharge with R-22 may not even fully fix your problem. An air conditioner that leaks or needs a large amount of refrigerant is likely decades old and will face additional repairs. Due to the EPA’s complete ban on importation and manufacturing of freon in January 2020, which is now only 1.5 years away, further price rises will occur for the coolant. R-22 can no longer be used in new air conditioners as of 2018.

Choose Replacement Over Repair

Let’s face it, does the math really make sense? This repair costs $2000+ and includes replacement of parts, labor and R-22. For $4,500, the entire air conditioner can be replaced with a high efficiency unit that relies on R410A coolant.

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You might also consider a retrofit to MO99. (

Same issue, the retrofit may help you to use your existing equipment a little longer, but ultimately the time for replacement is inevitable and will you will be required to move to a more environmentally friendly unit. We add the repair cost to the replacement cost. Is that 2009 unit still worth it?

Repair or replacement…January 2020 isn’t that far away

Everyone knows, there is never a good time for replacement, but sometimes we need to consider the long term costs and impact. You need help deciding whether to repair or replace? Chinook Heating and Air Conditioning can be reached at 509.736.1211. You’ll be the coolest kid in town and save money over the long-term.

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