Replacing your heat/air units soon?

Here’s what you need to know about “green future” which will help the resale of your home complements of Housemaster’s inspection newsletter:

A milestone in a planned 30-year international phaseout of environmentally sensitive refrigerants used in residential air conditioners and heat pumps occurs in six months. After January 1, 2010, manufacturers of air conditioners and heat pumps can no longer produce equipment that uses the refrigerant R-22, which is commonly know by the brand name Freon®.

Because of this pending deadline, there is a lot of misunderstanding among contractors and homeowners about the future status of systems currently in homes that use R-22. Most affected will be homeowners needing to repair a malfunctioning system or contemplating replacement of an older system. Before making a decision on the remedial options available to them, homeowners should be aware that contrary to the impressions they may have been given by HVAC salesman or service technicians, it will still be possible to service and repair many older R-22 systems for years to come.

While the phaseout requirements only allow refrigerant manufacturers to produce R-22 for use in new equipment until 2010, they can continue production of a regulated amount of R-22 until 2020 for use in the servicing and repair of existing R-22 equipment. It is not until 2020 that the production of R-22 will cease and subsequent servicing of R-22 based systems will have to rely solely on stockpiled or reclaimed and recycled refrigerant.

In anticipation of this phaseout, some manufacturers began manufacturing equipment that uses a new type of refrigerant several years ago. But given the extended phaseout schedule, it is expected that R-22 should continue to be available for servicing for all equipment that requires R-22 for another 10-15 years, which will at least match the typical maximum service life of most air conditioning and heat pump systems. So while manufacturers will not be able to make equipment that uses R-22 after January 1, 2010, the refrigerant will still be available in the near future for servicing of existing equipment.

Between the R-22 phaseout and recently implemented new minimum energy efficiency requirements, however, salespeople and service technicians will be pushing for all new equipment whenever significant repair needs exist or the equipment is old. Ultimately, the best approach in each situation though, will depend on a number of factors including: the cost of repair versus replacement, the age and efficiency of your equipment, you future occupancy plans, and your approach to protecting the environment.

To help address questions you may have about the phase out of R-22, review information the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Heating, Refrigeration and air Conditioning Institute of Canada have posted on their websites. Particularly helpful may be a listing of FAQ for consumers issued by EPA.

Remember, these tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue. More home safety and maintenance information is available online at Copyright © DBR Franchising, LLC.

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