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Why Is a Simple Tune-up So Expensive?

Spring is just around the corner, and that means it’s almost time to start scheduling your cooling tune-up services. If you had a tune-up performed over the last year or two, you may have come across a certain level of sticker shock when it came to the cost of what you thought was a pretty simple service. Why has this cost gone up so much? Is there something you can do to bring it back down? The answer to these questions has to do with a substance known as R-22 refrigerant and changing rules and laws that are making it increasingly difficult to come by.

What Is Freon?

R-22, or as it is better known, Freon, is a type of refrigerant substance used to facilitate heat transfer between your indoor and outdoor coils. Freon was first developed all the way back in 1928 and was the standard-bearer in refrigerants for over half a century. However, research in the 1980s found that certain chemical compounds found in Freon were depleting the Earth’s ozone layer. In a monumental bit of global political unity, over 150 countries signed what is known as the Montreal Protocol, a commitment to restoring the ozone layer by phasing out depleting chemicals and substances. Unfortunately, this included R-22 Freon refrigerants.

The phase-out process was not a fast one, but it only recently came to completion here in the United States. Starting in the year 2010, all new air conditioners manufactured in the US needed to use some sort of alternative refrigerant instead of Freon, and cooling units pre-loaded with Freon were banned from import and sale in the country. In 2020, this went even a step further, as Freon production in the US was completely halted and all importing of the substance itself was banned as well.

Why Freon Costs Are Sky High

What does all of this mean? To put it simply, it means the Freon available all of the Freon we have left. No more is being produced or imported, and when the supply runs out, it’s gone for good. And that’s not a good thing because some air conditioning systems that run on Freon are still in operation today. The ban does not require you to replace your Freon-dependent system, but any air conditioner will eventually give out and need to be replaced. In time, all Freon-based systems will be cycled out of service but that won’t happen for at least another decade or two. Until then, those who still have a Freon-dependent air conditioner will have to do what they can with what Freon they can find.

New Freon is now becoming extremely rare and people are even reclaiming Freon removed from old, decommissioned air conditioners that utilized it. All of this means that Freon prices have skyrocketed and services as simple as a tune-up and refrigerant recharge have suddenly become incredibly expensive for these older systems.

Don’t Fall Victim to High Freon Prices

While Freon-charged air conditioners were officially banned from sale 12 years ago, many systems older than this actually use a different type of refrigerant already. By the time the ban went fully into effect, the majority of air conditioners being sold utilized alternative refrigerants in order to make them more eco-friendly and appealing to customers. Odds are, if your air conditioner is 15 years old or less, there’s a pretty strong chance you’re already in the clear.

However, for those who have an older system that still relies on Freon, you’ll want to consider replacing your air conditioner fairly soon. Upgrading to a new system that runs on an eco-friendly and more efficient refrigerant will not only cut back energy costs but could help save you from an unexpected system failure that leaves you stuck sweating through hot summer conditions. We recommend having your current air conditioner inspected in order to get a comprehensive report on your system’s health and potentially start the process of planning for your replacement within the coming months.

To learn more about replacing your air conditioner with a new, more energy-efficient unit or to schedule a tune-up service in preparation for this coming summer, make the call to Bay Heating & Air Conditioning at (440) 294-4954 today!