Common refrigerant for air conditioners no longer made, more difficult and expensive to get

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Air conditioning companies are getting slammed with calls right now because of the unusually hot weather, but many are also busy upgrading outdated systems that run on old freon called R22.

If you have one, you may be facing some decisions tougher than the hot summer-like temps.

Prepping your air conditioner for the summer marathon of heat is crucial. However, if your air conditioner is not working, you may be facing a bigger issue than just a service call. Air conditioners pre-dating 2010, which still cool many of our homes in the desert, run on ozone-depleting R-22 freon which is now banned by the EPA.

 “We can still get it if we have to, with what we have in stock but that is diminishing. But realistically, by this time next year, we probably won’t even sell it anymore, it’ll be gone,” said Louis Weber, Silver State Refrigeration, HVAC and Plumbing.

No longer in production, R22 is harder to find and getting more expensive. Weber says that presents a big dilemma for homeowners whose A/C units are still in good shape.

“So, if they aren’t leaking — to each his own — sure they will be more efficient if you replace them. But you’ve got homes that are 2007, 2008 that are only 12 years old with R22 refrigerant so you try to keep them going as long as you can.”

It’s now illegal to produce or import the refrigerant because it releases harmful chlorine gas into the atmosphere that protects us from cancer-causing UV rays. It’s being replaced with a more eco-friendly and energy-efficient coolant called 410A.

 “I think for ours, on average, we’re in the $250 a month range sometimes $300,” said Will Simmons, homeowner.

Simmons enjoys the energy savings on his nearly 4,000 square foot home he bought in 2013 that was built with the newer EPA-approved units. He says a regular service plan also keeps the cool air flowing.

“It’s better to do preventative than to wait for the system to break down when it’s 110 degrees out,” he said.

Converting your air conditioner is a sizable investment so waiting too long to make a cool-headed decision could leave you out in the heat and desperate to pay for a quick fix.

“I have yet to meet a person who woke up and said ‘Hey, today I’m going to buy an air conditioner.’ It just doesn’t happen,” Weber said.

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