What is a fair price for R-22?

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? – Albert M., West Babylon, N.Y. 

Dear Albert: Prices for R-22 refrigerant, commonly known as “Freon,” have definitely risen over the past few years.

Here’s why: About 25 years ago, the EPA ordered the phasing out of R-22 as part of the international treaty on protecting the ozone layer called the “Montreal Protocol”, because of the refrigerant’s ozone-depleting substances.

As part of the agreement, production ended in 2010 for new air conditioning units “charged” with R-22 and production of the refrigerant itself was reduced by 75 percent. 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.

I’ve spoken with a number of highly rated heating and cooling contractors on Angie’s List and, depending on how much of a supply they have and how much they paid when they purchased it, these companies are charging three and four times the cost they were just a few years ago. Companies have quoted prices ranging from $35 to $175 per pound. That comes with a caveat, though. For example, one Long Island-area company representative I spoke with said he charges $35 per pound, but that does not include the cost of a service charge. Most companies seem to charge about $115 for the labor portion. So, if your contractor charged you $100 to replenish one pound and that included the labor, then it sounds like you got a pretty good deal. 

All that said, I think you need to look at the bigger issue here. You said you paid to have R-22 added to your A/C four years ago. Really, R-22 should never need to be replaced. If your system needs R-22, that means you have a leak. Rather than continuing to pay these increased costs to replenish the leaking R-22, I recommend you find a qualified heating and cooling company to repair the leak.

A reputable HVAC technician can also advise you if it makes sense to continue investing in your existing A/C, or if you’re better off replacing it. Heating and cooling companies can recycle R-22 from existing units, which can then been reused to service units beyond 2020. However, as these costs continue to rise, you might find you’re better off replacing your old R-22 unit with one that uses the more environmentally friendly R-410A. Unfortunately, R-22 charged units are not compatible with R-410 refrigerant, so you’ll have to replace the entire system.

The good news is that, if you do invest in a new unit, it will be more environmentally friendly and more energy efficient. You’ll save money on your monthly cooling costs – those long-term savings can really add up – plus you can take advantage of federal Energy Star tax credits of up to $300 if you buy a qualifying air conditioner this year.

Angie’s List collects about 65,000 consumer reviews each month covering more than 550 home and health services. Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angie’s List to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at askangie@angieslist.com


More Like This

Are you paying too much for Freon?

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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)

The cost of Freon is expected to skyrocket in the next few years as the EPA phases out this common A/C refrigerant. What are companies charging for R-22?

Comments

I can't believe what I'm reading. Apparently the guys on here complaining about weak knees and back breaking work forgot they CHOOSE this line of work and how are we, the customer, supposed to be responsible for the EPA, your age and all of the other crap your spouting. Then get out of the business, as it is a business ,and do a fair job for a fair price, for because of the internet, you can' t continue to rip old people that will pay anything you ask with no knowledge or reference. Your business did this to themselves and now your belly aching about it. Your right up there with lawyers and used car salesmen in the minds of the consumer and you are the ones responsible not us. Not all are bad, but how many datelines or investigative reports do you need to see on tv on this industry to know they are thieves with a license? Your in a hot house with a family and no a/c or heat in the summer or cold in the winter and they can charge you " whatever" and you have to suck it up. Check your warranties as most are 10 years and negotiate or call someone else.

Maybe if every HVAC guy/Company did't try and rip everyone off by charging anywhere from $180-$80 dollars a pound for R-22 (plus an $50-100 service call fee) when you can get a 30lbs canister for $300-$400 which equals about $10 to $14 a pound then folks wouldn't revert to such actions. I understand making a profit but 800-1500% mark up? Come on.

The issue is simple. The A/C maintenance industry has taken advantage of the EPA freon situation to make an extra buck. The reality is, R22 will eventually become difficult to find. But, as of June 2014, it can be had at $10-$15 per pound. My (ex) AC guy now charges $150 for the first pound and like $50/pound after that. I understand that people need to make money. My issue is with dishonesty. If your overhead is such that you need to charge a higher hourly rate than you do, then charge a higher hourly rate and don't try to then charge 1000% markup on parts. Many people may be fooled by a teaser hourly rate and that is why people do this, but don't be a sucker. Call your AC guy first and negotiate a rate for freon or, better yet, watch a few youtube videos, but your own freon and gauges, and fill it yourself...it's not hard.

service call 89.95 (just for the trip charge and diagnostic) hourly rate $120 1lbs R22 $30 total invoice $239.95 that is when people want to per per lbs our price book 1 to 3 lbs $241.64 that includes trip charge diagnostic and labor to charge the system a system is charged by super heat or sub cooling if a tech charges an A/C without checking those then he is not a tech. the unit then could over or under charge meaning that if you have a 13SEER rating unit that is not charge properly or does not have the proper airflow it may end up being only a 8 or 10 or 11 SEER and ending up costing you about more on your electrical bill, if it run like a 10 SEER your electrical bill would be about 15% higher. If you you have to add R22 in your system you probably have a leak and it should be found and the unit should be fixed and/or replaced R22A can be bought without a EPA certification BUT IS VERY DANGEROUS BECAUSE IT CONTAINS PROPANE . IT IS ALSO UNDER FBI INVESTIGATION I see people talking about buying gauges and charging the system themselves, I guess its alright if they do not get caught or someone turns them in ($5,000 reward). but they should consider this: the next time they cut themselves and needs stitches they should buy the needles and stitch themselves, why would want to go to the emergency room and pay over a $1000 for something they can get for 20 bucks

I agree its not hard to charge a unit and if people had gauges they could do it themselves with help from YouTube the problem is you can't purchase r-22 without being EPA certified

Buy your own refrigerant? You must have at least an EPA type 2 license to handle refrigerant for a central ac system. Not only does the price for refrigerant reflect a markup it also has to do with a whole lot of other variables imposed by the EPA in regards to the handling of the refrigerant. As for the markup of parts in general, no one from your doctor to your mechanic charges you the price that they paid for the materials. Any respectable service provider has a standard markup on their parts and materials. You can always find a cheaper route but that doesn't mean that it is better.

The test you must take to get EPA certified to handle controlled refrigerants is not very difficult. But you must study specific materials in order to pass the test. Though it helps to know about hvac systems, most of the test questions concern EPA law rather than knowledge of hvac systems. One only needs to pass the Core and Type 1 portions of the test to be licensed to purchase R-22. These can be taken online and cost about $70. I decided to get the universal license, and took all four parts of the test at a proctored site where refrigerants were sold. The Esco Institute provides the test and a 12-page study guide that really teaches all four parts of the test very well. I purchased a 30 lb cylinder of R-22 7/20/14 online that was on sale for $240 and 29.99 shipping, meaning $8.999 per pound.

8.99 per pound exactly and then the HVAC guys want to charge anywhere from $80-$180 per pound based on the 8 or 10 I just contacted (plus a service call fee of $50-85) for at most 2 hours of work. What a rip off.

You should start your own HVAC business, sounds like you got it figured out.

It's illegal to service your own ac system if you are not license by the EPA to handle refrigerant. To do so is a crime if caught. I believe it's a federal offense . So I would be careful in doing this particular task or any job that would involve the refrigerant portion of your HVAC system how ever simple it may be.

Agreed, the penalty is $25,000.00 and possible jail time, even if you are a home owner doing the simplest of tasks when it comes to refrigerant handling.

If your not EPA certified to use freon it's $25,000.00 per pound of freon and 5 years in a federal prison

So many comments to respond to here. First, R22A is not an acceptable substitute for residential system. EPA is clear on this, vendors who will ship this to you via UPS are not. And when questioned UPS has claimed ignorance of the cargo they shipped. R410A has indeed had a life since 1991. That is plenty of time for any manufacturer, much less contractor to make adjustments to reality. And I agree, we have had some poor contractors in the past not let you know that this was the law of the land and coming down the pike. I will also say, dry shipped units are still available--but they are a repair option, and still should be matched to the system they are being attached to. Quite frankly, a 1960 coil and a 2014 condenser paired together is not going to perform...and could actually cost you more money in utility and repairs. In short, even R410A is on chopping block via Montreal Act. There is just not a viable alternative at this point. So let us take the tech out of all discussion, and turn a corner. The only ones surprised, are the ones who were not told in the first place. As far as the property owners who have posted (yes, I saw you too.) Comfort is not about what you are willing to pay, but what the level of comfort can afford you. You do realize if you can minimize utility bills, they are more able to afford your rent? And with more investment, become longer term tenants--because it is the turn over that costs you more. Just a consideration, because, mismatched systems are aweful, R22A dangerous, and M099 indeed have differing performance properties. But hey, as long as the contractor you utilize keeps gauges, recovery machines, recovery jugs and vacuum pumps ready for it--you may have won the short battle (I'm guessing the shoe is going to drop.) And Angie's LIst...your comments here are not coming from consumers but providers. And pricing discussion may just arise concerns with FTC and price fixing. There you go, HVAC contracting in America. Laid bare, and open for litigation.

At least as of last year it was possible to purchase dry charged R22 AC Condensing units. I've done so and charged them with a drop in Dupont replacement MO99 (or R438a), which works well and avoids the volatility of R22 pricing, while being very environmentally friendly. The units operate at much lower pressure than R410 units (roughly 60% less), which would lead me to believe that a great deal of equipment wear is saved, and yes to a degree the 410 units are designed for higher pressures, but pressure is pressure. I believe the R438a is less of a greenhouse threat, and also a pretty much a non ozone depletion gas. I've also began converting leaking R22 systems I've found with the new MO99...since at last years prices, the system can be converted for the same cost as adding a few pounds of R22. All that needs done is to change the fill port valves (just cheap tire valves) and the filter-drier which is inexpensive and evacutate, vacuum and recharge the system.

I'm a one-man-show and do my best to give my customers the best value I can. If it is determined at a service call that my customer needed 2 lbs. of Freon, I would charge $95/service call and $65/lb for the Freon. Total bill would be $225. What people fail to realize I spend a lot of time at the home, making sure the system is working properly. I could gas up the system and leave, In and out in 20 minutes, but the system may not be running at peak efficiency and the home comfort may suffer as well. Refrigerant is a delicate balancing act, and often requires more than one trip, on my dime. Also, I've been very sick handling Freon, as it creates Phosgene "nerve gas" when a flame is present. While it may appear I make a great living, I'm at the lower end of middle class. I'm only truly "busy" for short periods of time. Yet, I don't take much time off so I can be there when my customers need my service. I'm 40 now and am looking at an exit strategy, since I don't know how much longer my back and knees can handle this type of work. My 2 cents. My point is you can't simply look at the raw material pricing of a 30# cylinder and determine if you're being ripped off.

Been doing it for 30 years, EPA certified since 1992. People do not realize how many things need to be checked while the technician is there. Wires, loose terminals, or terminals about to burn off. Freon leaks, dirty coils, oiling fan motors that still need to be oiled. Checking belts on any belt drive motors. This is inside and outside units on split systems, which may be under the house, in the attic etc. Animals chew through duct work in attics, or under the house, sometimes reducing the air pressure, and costing increased energy costs. All of these things have to be looked at because they all work together to make the unit cool properly. People tend to not understand, a lot of labor involves inspection not actual labor. People also don't understand how many different city, state, county, etc. licenses the contractor must have. This is the reason for the service call. And the last thing we technicians want is to be called back out to lick our calf over. Then most likely, even if it is a new problem, we can't charge for the service call a second time. We just have to eat it. Enter the EPA. They want to confuse things even further. Mandates, Freon outlawed. New units dry shipped where we can use either Freon, the old R-22 or one of what ever now. They change Freon blends faster than the laws. I myself do not believe this climate/global warming theory. It is causing good technicians to go broke, while other countries making R-22 get rich. Prices will continue to climb. We the HVAC companies will continue to have to pass the cost on to our customers. Not that we want to, but we have to eat too. Each case is different, there is not much of a way we can say there is a charge set in stone, and that what I charge one customer, will be the same fee I would charge their neighbor across the street. We have a lively hood that we have to support. And it takes a hard toll on the human body. It does take time to properly service a unit, it is not a shoot Freon in and run deal. And during the winter, some people don't even realize how dangerous their furnace might be, it could kill them. That would be something a customer may want the technician to peek at when it is hot, to determine if IT may need work or replacing. That is the cold hard truth. No pun intended. Good Day people. I gave it up, my exit plan is becoming a programmer. 56, too old to argue with customers over why their A/C repair bill cost more than a mortgage payment.

30lb cylinders of R22 are widely available for around $230 - $250 per cylinder (less at wholesale / in quantity) to anyone with 608 certification which is easily obtained by open book test online. Higher prices for 30 lbs is a ripoff. Just do a search on 608 certification. Getting the certification and buying the refrigerant doesn't mean you'll actually be qualified to service the equipment though. Proceed at your own risk.

To get the certification is not as easy as this gentleman makes it sound. It is actually closed book and there are 4 different sections to it. If you want the certification to do automotive that's a separate test. With that said, I do feel that what some of the contractors are charging is high way robbery. Here in Shenandoah Valley the average cost charged to customer is between 50-70 per pound. We've received scrutiny from other contractors for selling it for between 22-29 per pound, which we base off of our cost at any given time. Some how we still get people complaining about our rates on R22.

? Big price drop? even 14 a pound to 10 a pound wholesale affects a 4 lb addition by _ $? so a call is 400 bucks +/- 16... eh?

30lb of r22 freon wholesale is $425.00.Any a/c company has to pay $25-$35 on hour for their man,truck,gas,insurance,tools,and so on.For any a/c company to stay in business just to check your system they have to charge at least $80 per hr + lets say freon $60 and up.If you want somebody to come to your house and fix your stuff please do not be cheap about it or do not own your residence,simply just RENT!

R22 price has actually dropped down quite a bit in recent months. They are $299 per 30lbs. at our store location. Of course only certified person can purchase them and with insurance, labor and other overhead we won't see end user's price come down anytime soon.

How about one type of freon for all uses.......b

In the united states you are required to have passed an epa test to buy any refrigerant. 608 universal ( must pass all 4 parts) for hvac systems 609 for car ac systems And any drop-in for r22 you will loss capacity

Good article . however there was one thing that was not exactly accurate. If you have to change the outdoor unit to a 410 a system It does not mean you absolutely have to change the indoor evaporator.. many of the evaporators that were being manufactured can work both for 410a and 22. It's just a matter of changing the metering device. You won't have to change the furnace. And as long as you clean out the line set very well, with a flush, you can get away with just changing the condensing unit... So no you don't have to change the entire system.... all the time....

If the technicians out there which are stating that you can change selected components of an R22 system and retrofit to a R410 system would simply look at a temperature/pressure chart they would change their minds. Since refrigerant R410 operates at pressures approx. 80% higher the evaporator can be exposed to pressures higher than 400 psi and even much higher when it is a heat pump in heat mode. This means that a coil designed for use with an R22 system cannot handle the pressures when the system is changed to R410. Even if the actual metal used ie. coper or aluminum, may be able to handle the increased pressure, the brazing required to install the ubends on each pass in the evaporator may blow out when exposed to the increased pressure. Also, it is difficult to change the piston (ie acurator) in an R22 system to properly operate with R410 unless the technician install the piston and then checks the superheat or subcooling to make sure the system operates correctly. Since there is no chart I know of that can tell the technician exactly what orifice (piston) to use when changing the system from R22 to R410 he must change the orifice then check superheat then pump down the system and try a different orifice until the system maintains the correct superheat or subcooling. This could take hours in cases especially when the equipment is mismatched or has a txv (expansion valve). All said, it is not advisable and definitely not economical to adapt an R22 system to an R410 system unless the evaporator coil is changed. It is possible to change just the coil without changing the entire air handler, but sometimes it is more expensive. I reccomend anyone that wants to change the evaporator coil check prices with US coil or one of the other aftermarket companies that manufacture coils to the original OEM specs. I have found the prices to be much less expensive from an aftermarket coil manufacturer than from the original equipment manufacturer and most of the time they are an exact match. I really think that it would be much more expensive to spend hours changing components and checking superheat/subcooling each time to adapt a system and still run the risk of excessive pressure damaging the coil or compressor. The new R410 compressors are also built with thicker guage metal to withstand the additional pressures generated by the use of R410, the R22 compressors can be damaged by the use of R410 refrigerant and you would void any remaining warranty by the change in refrigerants.

Yes you're technically correct..however if one is to purchase a 16 seer condenser and only change the metering device it will no longer be 16 seer. As a matter of fact, even if you change the metering device and do not replace the furnace with matching equipment, you will still not have a 16 seer system. Simple fact is: the rating of 16 seer is based on the fact that all 3 major components are matched appropriately and the line set and duct system are measured properly. But tell your customers whatever you please and hopefully they will call me next time

Actually you loose nothing as the SEER is only relating to the condensing units. Air handlers don't care what SEER you have on the condenser.

SEER is even including blower speed and dry bulb and wet bulb - dewpoint conditions in tests I think there more need for homework... because all components are the SEER consideration through to the register, even...

Simply confusing EER of a condenser with total system SEER is common. Absolutely matters what blower speed even to get the SEER rating, as well as refrigerant metering devices in-line.

Wrong. Seer rating is based on Total system performance. You can put a 16seer condensing unit on an ahu with a pcm blower with a piston type metering device and you will never hit 16seer.

Most leaks occur in the evaporator coil in the air handler, also go find a manufacturer that will support installing a 16 SEER unit on someone else air handler. Also government incentives are based on particular condensers installed on matching air handlers.

The truth in the matter is not all units are the same! I have an 18 SEER unit that is R-22, therefore I would NOT save a dime replacing it! I MIGHT save due to weathering, dirt, etc from the 18 SEER, but not enough to buy a new unit just to use 410A. I installed it in 1995, and haven't added 1 oz to the system.!

75-100 p/lb is VERY reasonable. Only certain people can LEGALLY PURCHASE IT, and and even smaller number can competently charge it. 100 per lb OR burn/freeze to death OR try adding some(quality undocumented) yourself and kill your compressor. A compressor is REALLY gonna set you back!

A lot of the comments above are just dead wrong and reflect price gouging by overly greedy companies. "Angie" should be really ashamed to abuse innocent customers by supporting this kind of dishonest behavior. Real price is about $30 /pound, summer 2013. [There is also a new "friendly" R22B on the market that may continue after above dates]. This $30 can reflect a markup of about 50% aready. Anyone can get this if you just look around. On top of freon cost, everyone charges initial visit fees. An honest and reasonable person may charge $50 to $70, others and crooks can charge up to $200 or more. All also charge a fee for adding freon, but it only takes 5 minuts or less per pound, so $100 per pound is dishonest and abusive. When an honest technician charges $30/lb and $22 per 15 minutes service, it is still only $40 per pund for 2 pounds, which is an unusually high amount to need.

To start the new R22b is basically propane and is extremely flamible and it is very difficult to braze or use a torch near it. If you had an evaporator leak in your house and your air handler was near an ignition source (ie. stove, gas furnace, gas water heater, etc) you would probably blow your house of of your street which is happeneing with the use of this new refrigerant. I will not subject my customers to the risk of a potentialy deadly explosion. Secondly, I don't know when or where you checked your prices for R22, but it is being phased out and each year until 2020 the price can be expected to rise dramatically because of the reduced supply dictated by the government quotas. This summer, 2014, the price for R22 is expected to rise to around $450-$500 for 30 lbs at wholesale, according to what I read and hear at the supply houses. This means that our cost will be about $15/lb. Any business that requires a technician to drive a service vehicle to your home must apply a markup to each part used in a repair which is typically around 50% meaning that the cost of R22 to the customer would be at least $22.50/lb. However, at the price of $22.50/lb the technician must charge the normal labor rate of around $80-$125/hr. and charge for the trip either by the hour or as a fixed rate. Additionally, any business must set their rates to obtain a profit of approx. 40-60% in order to cover overhead and variable expenses such as advertising, vehicle repair, bookeeping, taxes, etc. Third, it is not as easy as your quote of, "it only takes 5 minutes or less per pound", is highly inaccurate if your technician is properly adding freon. He should not add freon to a unit that has a de minimis loss which is interpreted by most industry associates as approx. 10% or around 10 ounces of refrigerant from a system with 8 lbs. added from the factory. In the case of a system requiring more refrigerant than the de minimus loss standard, to be added, then a leak check/repair, or equipment replacement is required by law. If the technician finds such a leak it takes hours to properly leak check and repair the leak(s) or replace equipment and the repair becomes very expensive. Even when the leak is under the de minimus standard, to properly add refrigerant to a system with R22 the technician should add the R22 as a vapor not a liquid which can take 15 to 20 minutes just to add the gas. In addition to the time required to add the refrigerant the trip time, the time to install your guages onto the service valves, uninstall them, check the system superheat or subcooling, and invoice the customer and trip to the next call will always exceed 2 hours total. So in the case of a system needing 2 lbs. of R22 the cost should be as follows: R22 at $22.50 x 2lbs = $45.00, labor at $100/hr. = $200, and 50% profit on the labor = $100, totals $345.00. This is probably a good average even though the charges can be applied differently the total amount is resonable. Some technicians will charge more for the freon and adjust their labor rate, trip charge, and profit to still end up at the same total cost. For instance, some techs will charge $75/lb. for freon 22, $50 trip charge, $75/hr labor, and 50% profit which would total $450. Either way it is not a rip off to charge these amount as it is necessary to maintain a profitable business. Another important fact involving refrigerant leaks is that there is no warranty on freon 22 added to a system since if it leaks out the technician cannot recover his loss and it is not fair to expect him to absorb the same loss you are complaining about . If you choose not to pay the technician to perform a leak check for whatever reason you cannot expect the technician to warranty the refrigerant when it may be gone the next day. So many times I have heard the homeowner state that he had to add refrigerant 2 years ago and it worked fine for the past 2 years so it should be ok. However, in truth the leak may be from a different source than the small leak you had 2 years ago and the new leak is at a much larger rate and leaks out in a few days. It is always advisable to pay your technician for the several hours it may take to perform a solid leak check and repair the leak instead of adding refrigerant to a system without knowing the source of the leak. Also, don't expect your technician to refund you all the money you paid for adding refrigerant if you decide to take the risk.

We bought a house In the Fall which had sat empty for 3 years. It came with a 1 yr warranty. The next summer we discovered little cold from the AC\heat pump unit. The HVAC people the warranty company uses refused to come as we were out of their area. The warranty called a local firm and told us we could only have them do x$ of work, anything more and we would have to get permission. The local from said we needed 3 lbs of freon and the with that much missing we probably had a leak and it would need testing. The bill came to 10 or 20 more than x$ total for the freon alone so we only had that done. We contacted the warranty company to ask what was next since there was still an issue. They talked usual vendor into coming down. On the phone with me the woman wanted to know how old the unit was. I found the papers and told her. Her voice suddenly became disappointed that it didn't have 2 or 3 more years on it so it could be replaced. The guy showed up, did the test and lo and behold there was no leak to be found. We did not extend the warranty when it expired in the Fall. The next summer we turned on the AC and no cool again at all. No warranty, no cool air and who was lying I am sure I know, but now I am stuck with the bill. That type of sneaky underhandedness is why the industry has a bad reputation. I went out and bought fans and intend to get buy with refurbished window units left over from my last house until such time I feel I am ready to be ripped off again.

You made a comment that a/c repair technicians have different ways of billing out their charges. You also alluded to the fact that they have to operate profitably. I'd like to add one caveat--if an a/c technician has to rip off his customers to stay in business, then he needs to get out of the business. Example: Our a/c went down about a week ago. Until it went down, it was cooling the home very well. We called a local a/c repair service. They came out, switched out a $30 capacitor in 5 minutes and then "pretended" to add freon, saying my system needed to be recharged. I then told this technician if he thought I just "got off the boat". The capacitor that failed HAD NOTHING with any requirement to add freon. This a/c technician merely wanted to make more money. How do I know? Because he brought a canister of R410A in a very tattered and faded factory cardboard box, which tells me one thing--either he VERY VERY VERY rarely adds freon to any of his customer's a/c systems (which isn't going to happen) OR he was using a freon canister that had been empty for a very, very long time and pretended to add R410A at a ludicrous $45 a pound. This crooked technician is lucky I didn't file fraud charges against him. He tried to rip me off but failed because I knew the breakdown had nothing to do with freon loss; in fact, an a/c system with no leaks NEVER needs freon added. It is THIEVES like this that ruin the image of a/c repairmen. He admitted he didn't ad ANY freon but because his OVERHEAD was so high, he had to come up with some way of making more money on his service calls. THiIS FRAUD was the way he chose to do this. He was a crook and that's all there is to it. He got caught red handed and as I said, he's lucky I didn't file criminal fraud charges on him. On last thing--this tech also, like many others, tried to MASK the cost of parts by providing an INSTALLED price for needed components. By quoting the capacitor replacement as $180 installed, he is masking his 5 minute labor cost of $150 for installing a $30 retail component.

I just want to mention that there is nothing called R22b. There is R22 (diflurochloromethane, non flammable), which is the Freon permitted by EPA to use in the old systems. This is being replaced by R410a (also non flammable). Now, some dishonest people are using cheaper R22a (this is propane and is flammable and can blow your house up) instead of R22 and EPA is asking for information regarding these people. Possible criminal charge might be filed in such cases.

I just bought 50 lbs for $300.00 that's $6 per lb and that was for a quantity of only one 50 lb cylinder. In true bulk i.e. by the pallet it's cheaper. 30lb Cylinders are readily available in the $230 and up range.

$100 for a pound of freon is not uncommon or unreasonable. There is a lot behind the scenes like some here have pointed out. It's easy and on the surface logical as a consumer to seek out low cost options. It's also easy as a consumer to expect quality results. The problem is low cost and high quality contradict each other in reality. There are a LOT of factors below the surface and behind the scenes that direct pricing without sacrificing quality. Any contractor that wants to stay in business realizes there is a demand for quality repairs, service, and installation. There is a lot of competition between contractors wanting your business, and normally you get what you pay for. About the only consumers that readily relate to the additional behind the scenes costs a contractor must endure to stay in business are the consumers that also own a business. There is a LOT more going on than just a pound of freon when a consumer is charged $100 (or any other amount depending on the area). Start with the guy putting in the refrigerant: would you prefer the guy getting paid $30 per hour or the guy getting $10 per hour working on your AC? How much time did that guy spend from the time he began the trip to your house to the time he made it to the next house? It may not matter to you, but I guarantee you it matters a lot to the guy that knows his expertise is worth $30 per hour. He isn't going to settle for less and will find a quality company to work for that can pay him what he is worth. Many of us contractors are going independent because we know we are worth more than an employer can or will pay us. Yes, you can always find a cheaper option (consumers and employers alike), but will it be a long term or short term gain for you? Any reputable business should reasonably expect to make a profit or go out of business. If you were a business owner, how much would you settle for if you had to pay your employee, pay for the materials, pay for the fuel, insurance, licenses, permits, taxes, tools (I use top of the line tools so I know the job is done right the first time, when I check refrigerant I am thorough so I also check your target temperature split, actual temperature split, target superheat and/or subcool, actual superheat and/or subcool, and more: the tools I use to properly and precisely do this cost me not my employer over a grand), employee benefits on top of a competitive wage to retain them, and many more costs of doing business. The $100 for a pound of freon might sound like a lot on the surface, but I don't care if it only cost the company you bought it from $5 it is still a reasonable charge for quality service. Is $100 too much for a pound of freon? I ask you to ask yourself a more important question, can you get a reliable, dependable, quality long term solution for less? Even more important is should you have invested in upgrading to a new R410a cooling system instead of nickel and diming a soon to be (if not already) obsolete R22 system? A properly sized and properly installed R410a cooling system is often a better long term solution.

If I buy a 30lb. cannister/tank of R22, how long can I expect it to be kept for a long time without losing any concentration or function for future uses; I assume these tanks have on/off valve that allows reuse of the tank from time to time ?

From your question i can tell you do not have an epa 608 part 2 so it would be illegal for you to buy any refrigerant in the united states

I am a landlord. a/c was blowing hot air. sent tech to house who stated unit not leaking, but r-22 had been contaminated and said he replaced 7 pounds of refrigerant. Question, if unit was not leaking, then tech would need to withdraw 7 pounds of refrigerant before adding 7 pounds of refrigerant. Is that correct? And, if unit was not leaking, how could the r-22 become contaminated? And, what would he do with the old r-22 he removed?

If your tech has replaced 7 pounds of refrigent and not cleaned your system, he did you no facors. He should have also added a dryer and filter to the refrigent system. After that, the system should have been vacuumed to a minimum of 300 microns. My system, I vacuumed to 50 microns. (It's hard to do, but can be done) And to follow guide lines, the filteers should be replaced after 3 days! Removing is OK, but my installs and repairs were done this way. Another tip is DO NOT LET YOUR TECH PUTS GAUGES ON UNLESS THERE IS A PROBLEM! All systems can be checked by either the subcooling or superheat method. (Keeps system from getting contaminated) A good tech will not charge the system using pressure only.

You are correct, a good tech will not charge a system by pressure only, can't be done properly. But a simple question on your comment . How in the world is your tech going to check superheat or subcool with out his gauges hooked up to the unit to know what the suction/low side pressure is to determine what the saturation temp actually is for superheat calculations or the discharge/high side pressure to determine sub-cooling?

Yes indeed! The magic technical word for the day is Superheat! If you have a qualified technician who knows what they are doing they should be able to give the definition of Superheat and why it is necessary, if no, tell them to get back in the truck and con someone else!!!

System contamination is almost as common as leaking systems. When this system was installed or last serviced. Non-condensables were allowed to enter the system due to not purging refrigerant hoses etc. A ac system should only have refrigerant and oil in it. I see this all the time. We pull vacuums on systems to dehydrate the system to remove air, moisture also called non condensables.

I'm a licensed contractor in the dc area and we are getting $150 to $200 a lb labor included but the cost of living around here is high along with heavy traffic and fuel cost also helps we have a lot of well off people who will drop 1500 to refill a system rather than wait 2 days for a replacement

There are some really good "drop in" refrigerants out there. I am a commercial refrigeration tech and there are many grocery stores still running with r-22 they are not to to spend several million dollars to change all that equipment. Educate yourself about the type of contractor you use. A lot of a/c companies pay there tech Commision on what parts or equipment is "needed" no contractor that is any good would object to a second opinion before replacing equipment. Also be a little weary about 410a because it is not here to stay either several replacements are being developed by manufactures!

I am a HVAC contractor and I can tell you why the price of R-22 has shot through the roof, first the Government allowed the Manufacturers of refrigerant to manufacture or import 110 million pounds three years ago, this year they have cut that production to 35 million pounds, I have been telling my customers for years that the price is going to go up and you need to either replace your unit or fix your leak, most of the time the leak is in the evaporator coil and this coil is expensive to replace, so they would look at the cost to fill it up, compare it to the cost of repairing the leak and then they would say just fill it up, this went on for years because the price of R-22 stayed stable. Then in Jan of 2012 the price of refrigerant tripled so then the cost of "just filling it up" was starting to get prohibitive, that is when we started getting people to actually repair or replace their systems. The price jumped again this year and part of the reason Contractors started charging so much for the refrigerant is because we know that just filling up leaking systems is not doing anybody a favor. First, the system that leaks is not efficient, from the time we drive away that system is leaking and losing refrigerant so therefore losing efficiency, Second that leaking system is taking away from the supply of refrigerant that will be available in the future, since the supply is limited because we are on a clock with the EPA for eventual complete phase out and if we hit you hard enough to just fill it up, you will be motivated to actually fix the problem, that might seem greedy or cruel to you but sometimes you trying to save a few dollars actually cost yourselves hundreds if not thousands. I can say that multiple customers have told me that since they changed their system their house is much more comfortable and their electric bill dropped significantly.

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