EPA regulation raises cost on repairs for old AC units

EPA regulation raises cost on repairs for old AC units

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by Jacqueline Quynh

KTVB.COM

Posted on June 22, 2012 at 10:27 AM

Updated Friday, Jun 22 at 11:47 AM

BOISE -- A new EPA regulation is changing the way we repair and buy air conditioning units.

KTVB spoke with a local AC specialist in Boise.  He says if your AC unit is 10 years old or more, and it needs to be repaired, it may be time to upgrade.  Older AC units have been using Freon gas to cool your house, but the EPA says this gas depletes the ozone layer.

They're now phasing out the Freon used in those AC units.  Manufacturers are replacing it with a more eco-friendly gas known as Puron.

Bob Barnes with Western Heating and Air Conditioning fixes a lot of leaks in AC units. He says, in the past, the most common way to repair these leaks was to pump Freon gas back in after fixing the leak.  The price to pump gas for a home unit averaged about $12 in the past two years.  Today, it could cost up to $60.

"The price of R-22 to the dealers, has doubled, if not tripled, in the last 90 to 100 days, and the consumer is definitely going to see an increase in prices when their system requires R-22," said Barnes.

Some commercial units use tons of Freon, so if there's a leak there, it could cost thousands of dollars.

Freon is still an available option in new AC units but, Barnes' advice is to switch over to new AC units and to fight the temptation to buy older models that could cost 25 percent less.

"The biggest reason is because the new refrigerant is much more efficient, 35 to 40, in some cases 50 percent more efficient, and the refrigerant at this point in time, there's nothing indicating that we are gonna have availability problems," said Barnes.

We are told that older Freon AC units are not compatible with Puron gas ones.

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