I generally am not fond of surprises. Especially expensive ones. So when our water heater suddenly burst several years ago, resulting in soaked baseboards and carpet, I wasn't particularly thrilled we had to dish out money for a new water heater AND repairs to our flooring. It would be safe to say many feel the same way about unexpected major house expenses. That's why today's post is a big HEADS UP regarding the potential of increased costs for your home AC system.
R-22 PHASEOUT BY 2020
Many of us remember the phase out of freon to R-22 several years ago. If the AC in your car went out back then, the friendly car repair man told you that a new system was needed - or you had to pay extra bucks to find any remnants of freon that might still be floating around.
Now, R-22, which is used in your home AC unit, is being replaced with a more environmentally-friendly solution.
In an effort to protect the earth's ozone layer, the United Nations came together to develop the Montreal Protocol. A global plan to eliminate substances that harm the ozone layer. In response, the United States added the Clean Air Act . In a nutshell, it phases out the use of certain refrigerants and other ozone-depleting substances over several years.
As of 2010, R-22 is no longer manufactured or imported (except under certain exceptions) and will be unavailable after 2020. That can pose a problem if you have a home AC unit that was manufactured before 2010.
Right now I'm feeling very thankful that I live in Colorado rather than somewhere else that's closer to Hades (like say...Arizona!). However, even Colorado experiences a few weeks out of the year when we appreciate a well-functioning air conditioning unit. There is nothing worse than being hot and miserable in your home in addition to dealing with the hassle and expense of HVAC repairs. Let's face it: when we're hot, we're grumpy.
On those 90+ degree days, I'm sure you enjoy a cool home, so here are few things you need to know to make sure you are prepared if and when it's time for your HVAC unit to receive some attention. (This will hopefully help keep surprises and hot tempers at bay.)
I spoke with Randy at Climate Solutions in Colorado Springs and he offered the following helpful information:
- AC units manufactured AFTER 2010 are compliant with the new Clean Air Act standards. No need for a new system.
- Home AC units built PRIOR to 2010 contain R-22 or another ODS (ozone-depleting substances). The next 3 years will phase out the remaining ODS.
- There's no need to do anything until your AC goes out or needs a refill.
- Even though R-22 won't be completely phased out until 2020, it is already difficult to purchase.
- When your current home AC unit breaks that involves a leak, you will need to buy a new system, rather than a repair or a refill. (New systems come with a 10-year warranty at Climate Solutions).
- Plan on spending $2500 - $7000 for a new AC unit (based on the size of your home and the type of system you desire).
For more information on the costs of replacing your home AC system, contact Randy with Climate Solutions at 719-359-6037 or visit www.climatesolutionsco.com
HOW OLD IS MY SYSTEM?
One of the first questions people have is, "How old is my AC unit?". Unlike the very handy sticker on your water heater that gives you a date, it's not as easy to find a manufacturing date.
For AC units that are original to the house, then the production date will obviously be the age of the home. For older or pre-owned homes, visit the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department to search for any permits pulled for your address. This information will reveal if and when a different HVAC system was put into your home.
IF MY AC GOES OUT BEFORE 2020 DO I HAVE TO GET AN UPDATED SYSTEM?
As much as I would love to give a definitive answer to this question, I am not a professional HVAC person (what is that called anyway?). It depends on what is wrong with the system. You may only need simple part replacement, but if there is a leak or a refill of R-22 is needed, purchasing a new system is required. However, please contact professionals, such as Randy at Climate Solutions, for the best answer.
BE AWARE AND PREPARE
The good news is that you do not need to do anything or put out any money UNTIL your AC unit breaks down. No need to scramble to get funds together for a new system by 2020.
With that being said, be aware that if your cooling system starts to underperform, it will most likely mean that you should plan on a replacement. As we get closer to 2020, the ability to simply refill the refrigerant (R22) is dramatically diminished. Set aside the funds now so that you are already mentally and financially prepared for the extra expense if something should happen.
Being aware today of tomorrow's possibilities can save a lot of headaches and prevent unwanted financial surprises at the most inconvenient of times!