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Air Conditioners will soon be more expensive to fix

Ban on R-22 Refrigerant begins January 1
Posted at 8:40 AM, Nov 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-14 09:40:23-05

After all this cold weather, you're probably not thinking about your air conditioning unit but maybe you should.

That's because of a government ban on the type of refrigerant used in a lot of AC units.

Which would make repair costs skyrocket.

We first told you back in July the ban was coming, now it's just a month and a half away: starting Jan. 1.

"I would say 50 percent of the market is R-22 right now."

This AC refrigerant may be great for cooling your home but it's poisonous for the planet.

A nationwide ban on this refrigerant kicks in Jan. 1, which could mean higher prices to repair your AC or could mean you have to replace it all together.

Scientist David Hastings says , "Eliminating this both saves the ozone layer and increasing the temperature even more."

When you use your AC unit, refrigerant can escape in the form of a leak.

It travels through the air as gas. That's when the chlorine atoms break off and tear apart the ozone layer.

Hastings says it's also among the worst offenders when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.

David Hastings says, "This compound that leaks out is extremely dangerous to the environment."

Some H-VAC contractors say they have already seen prices already double and triple for R-22.

Steve Cormier with AC Guyz says, "It doesn't make sense to pour money into an older system."

Homeowner Judy Holmes decided to replace her old R-22 unit rather than make repairs when it broke down.

Judy, a homeowner, says, "When the air conditioning company came out and explained to me the cost of repairing versus replacing it was not a big decision, it was a no brainer."

Depending on the brand name, size and efficiency rating, new home AC units run between $5,000 and $11,000.

The last R-22 units were made in 2010, but many of them may not need replacing anytime soon.

Experts say with regular maintenance these systems can last 15 years or more and you won't need new refrigerants

Experts say that if you do need to add more refrigerant to your unit, there won't be a shortage anytime soon.

"We have an abundance of r22 in the marketplace right now."

Bob Sheehan is a Government-Certified Refrigerant Reclaimer.

AC companies sell him the refrigerants they pull out of old units.

Sheehan says, "They'll evacuate the refrigerant into this then they will bring it to us to take it out."

Sheehan then processes, filters and repackages the refrigerant to sell back to licensed contractors.

He told us he's not sure why customers are now paying more.

"The price has actually gone down this year."

At the end of the day the choice is up to the consumer -- repair or replace

In Judy's case, the cost of repairs and the environment played into her decision.

Judy says, "Anything better for the environment is a good thing."

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