Does your air conditioner leak refrigerant? What are you going to do when R22 becomes too expense?
Here are a couple issues about air conditioning. Most AC equipment is the house original and was made in 10 seer (seasonal energy efficiency rating) and contains R22 refrigerant. R22 is phased out of production (thank Captain Planet) and less supply means a higher price. Another major issue, the efficiency standard is now 14 seer and obsolete equipment is not compatible in size, efficiency or with R410A (new “standard” refrigerant). For example, you cannot mismatch an old 10 seer evaporator coil with a new 14 seer condenser in R410A. A Frankenstein is a monster of mismatch equipment which void warranties, does not cool and components fail.
The best practice is to replace the failing system with a new equipment. An indoor air handler, or furnace and evaporator coil and the outdoor condenser. A matching system would provide the greatest long term benefit to you and your home. Most new systems are warranty by the manufacture for 10 year parts and 1 year labor by the installer. This is the most expensive option but it has the best piece of mind for safety and comfort.
Next choice is to keep the existing furnace and replace the indoor evaporator coil and outdoor unit. This partial replacement strategy may save you some money. If your furnace is safe and dependable you can keep it and just replace the AC equipment. It might not achieve the rated 14 seer efficiency but your system will still cool and not leak refrigerant. This is the “middle of the road” option to provide you with piece of mind and comfort.
Last choice is to replace the refrigerant with something cheaper. Many refrigerants are available to replace R22 provided you realize their limitations. The main problem is your system leaks and will continue to leak until it is replaced, so you may get cool but for how long? If you accept that risk, then the next strategy is to recover the old R22. Do not let someone make a Frankenstein out of your system and “drop in” a new refrigerant on top of the R22. No one is a chemical engineer and can make a field produced blend that will work correctly. Once the old R22 is recovered and a vacuum is pulled on the system, a new refrigerant can be added. Several problems with the new refrigerants are loss of capacity (3-10%), oil compatibility and pressure/temperature differences for heat pumps. The benefits of lower cost and adequate supply may be worth the problems to get your system cooling again. I would suggest having the system cleaned and electrical components checked so the system can still cool efficiently without nuisance break downs. The most important consideration for this “lower cost” approach is how much refrigerant leaks and how often. If it is a pound or two a year then this may be advisable, anything more than 3 pounds is a major leak and is probably only going to get larger. I would consider this option only temporary until you can replace the failed equipment.
This is a brief description of a complex issue to give you something to think about before spending a lot of money on R22. Call Air Max Heating & Cooling LLC to discuss this what could be the best plan for keeping you and your family cool and comfortable this season.