Because the old refrigerant is no longer being produced for new air conditioners, it is instead being reclaimed from older HVAC units as they’re replaced, but as it has become scarcer, the price has gone up and will only continue to increase. Industry experts I’ve talked to say the prices have jumped from about $30 for the first pound of refrigerant just two years ago to as much as $175 now, though prices can vary significantly by company based on how much of the coolant they have on hand and how much they paid for it when they purchased it.
That is why it’s a good idea to call around to get prices before you have more R-22 added to your unit. Ninety percent of the refrigerant has been phased out as of 2015 and it will be virtually obsolete by 2020.
What this means for you and homeowners in similar situations is that you must decide how you want to proceed. Do you continue to invest high repair costs in your older unit, or do you replace it with a newer, more efficient unit?
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I recommend having a conversation with a licensed heating and cooling technician with a good reputation to discuss your specific situation and examine all your options. You could get several more years out of your unit, or it could be more cost effective now to replace it. Be sure any HVAC technician you hire who handles refrigerant holds the required EPA certification before allowing them to work with the fluid.
Angie Hicks is founder of Angie's List. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to #AskAngie. Follow Angie at @Angie_Hicks.
Have you refilled your A/C with R-22 recently? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of a story originally posted on June 12, 2012.