Are you paying too much for Freon?

Checking the refrigerant levels of your A/C is important, but if there is a leak, you might consider buying a new unit sooner than later. (Photo by Brandon Smith)

Checking the refrigerant levels of your A/C is important, but if there is a leak, you might consider buying a new unit sooner than later. (Photo by Brandon Smith)

Your air conditioner — and your wallet — might be living on borrowed time.

If your A/C was manufactured before January 1, 2010, it most likely uses a hydrochlorofluorocarbon refrigerant commonly known as R-22, or the primary brand, Freon.

The Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of phasing out this ozone-depleting refrigerant, which means homeowners can expect to pay a premium for remaining supplies as the industry moves toward a January 1, 2020 ban on imported and newly-produced R-22.

However, there is a silver lining. We spoke with several highly rated A/C service providers who said prices and accessibility to R-22 remains similar in 2014 as it did in 2013.

“So far, we haven’t had difficulty obtaining R-22,” says Kevin Worden, owner of highly rated Badger State Heating and Air Conditioning in Sussex, Wisconsin. “It’s a very volatile product however, and is constantly rising and lowering in price. Because of this, the price fluctuates on a regular basis. Supply and demand.”

What’s it cost?

Here’s a list of what highly rated providers across the U.S. are charging per pound for R-22. Keep in mind, there’s usually a service charge associated with these types of calls. Before you buy coolant from anyone, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples and find out if that price includes the service call.

Moore Mechanical Heating and Air Conditioning

Dublin, California

First pound: $49

Each additional pound: $49

“We still have easy access to R-22, but it will be getting more difficult in the coming years,” says Nikole Jonsson, office manager.

Malek Heating & Cooling

Skokie, Illinois

First pound: $125

Each additional pound: $74

“It seems more so that homeowners understand the phase-out, and are replacing equipment rather than maintaining R-22 units,” says Mike Malek, owner.

Badger State Heating and Air Conditioning

Sussex, Wisconsin

First pound: $55

Each additional pound: $45

“Cost today is the main deciding factor, and whether people can afford to purchase a new unit versus repairing their current one,” Worden says.

P&M Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning

Torrance, California

First pound: $67

Each additional pound: $52

“Our service call is $99, so when we go on a call that needs Freon, the $99 will cover the labor to charge the system,” says Michelle Mingham, owner.

Bennett Heat Air & Electric

Bastrop, Louisiana

First pound: $40

Each additional pound: $40

“Many homeowners want to maintain their R-22 systems,” says Keith Bennett, owner

Air Medic AC & Heating

Cedar Creek, Texas

First Pound: $69

Each additional pound: $69

“By 2020, there should be no virgin R-22 circulated — it will be recycled Freon,” says Sal Pantoja, service manager.

Allied Air Conditioning

Port Richey, Florida

First pound: $119

Each additional pound: $57

“The shrinking supply causes the price to rise, rapidly at times, and will soon be unaffordable for many people,” says Bill Wright, president.


More Like This

What is a fair price for R-22?

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By 2015, there will be a 90 percent reduction in the production of R-22. By 2020, it will no longer be produced at all. Because production is limited, costs to charge existing units that are leaking R-22 refrigerant have gone up and are only expected to rise. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member John R. of Lake Mary, Fla.)
By 2015, there will be a 90 percent reduction in the production of R-22. By 2020, it will no longer be produced at all. Because production is limited, costs to charge existing units that are leaking R-22 refrigerant have gone up and are only expected to rise. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member John R. of Lake Mary, Fla.)

Dear Angie: My air conditioning contractor just charged me $100 per pound for R-22 refrigerant. This is a lot more than I paid four years ago. Is this a fair price these days?

Comments

EPA allows only so much freon to leak out of a system. If your system leaks or needs freon every year or more. The rule is to find the leak and repair or replace the part. With the cost of R-22 going up and no longer made, it is best to replace the system.

I have done extensive research (July 2014) and a dealer can get R-22 Freon at United Refrigeration in Philadelphia One Jug = 30 lbs. is $220, which makes one pound $7.33. Another internet site offered a 30 lb. jug for $350.00 ($11.67/lb.) These are wholesale prices. Add delivery to your state. I have paid $30/lb. retail a few days ago, but in Charlotte, NC I am asked to pay $90/lb. I find this outrageous!! Is this one more example of American greed?

Renate, sounds like you know it all. Don't call those greedy people, go buy it and put it in yourself.

$90 a pound is pure greed. You could charge $30 a pound and still triple your money plus labor.

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