New laws are changing in how R-22 refrigerant can be installed in A/C systems. Starting January 1 2010, R-22 refrigerant will not be allowed for use in new a/c systems. Only existing units can be charged with R-22 refrigerant.
If an existing coil needs to be replaced, you will be required to upgrade to a R410A system. In some situations, you may have to replace both the coil and condensing unit because a condensing unit with R-22 refrigerant may not work with the new R410A system. This basically doubles the repair costs for replacing a coil system. In some circumstances, a conversion kit can be installed.
A/C repairs in general have increased the past few years. Many older homes and multi-family units have less efficient a/c systems with a SEER rating of 10 or less. SEER stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio” and is a measure of the energy efficiency of the air conditioning unit. Units with a 12 SEER rating or below are no longer manufactured. Hence, instead of replacing a 10 SEER a/c condensing unit for $800, it now costs a minimum of $1,200-$1,300 to replace with a new 13 SEER unit. The cost is higher for larger units. The costs of replacing a more efficient coil, furnace, air handler, condensing unit, and replacement parts have increased about 40% to meet new energy efficient requirements.
In the past, if a compressor failed, we usually replaced the condensing unit instead of just replacing the compressor. Installing a new condensing unit provided the owner a brand new warranty and only cost a few hundred more dollars. However, it may be more cost effective with the new R-22 refrigerant law to replace the compressor and keep the existing condensing unit. This will allow owners to keep the existing coil and use the same R-22 refrigerant.
It may be advantageous for some homeowners to completely upgrade their a/c system if unit fails. The City of Austin offers generous rebates to owners who upgrade their entire a/c systems. Properties outside the Austin city limits do not offer the same rebates. Pedernales Electric Coop does offer incentives; however, the amounts are much lower than what is offered by the City of Austin.
If you have any questions, feel free to call our office at 512-257-9836.