COLORADO SPRINGS — In a Consumer Alert News5 Investigates has learned repair costs for many air conditioning units are on the rise and could skyrocket next year. Some consumers are already seeing double or triple the cost for certain AC repairs. The increase comes as a government ban begins in January on R22. It's a type of refrigerant used in hundreds of thousands of AC units across the country.
R22 is AC refrigerant that may be great for cooling your home, but the EPA says it's poisonous for the planet. A nationwide ban on this refrigerant begins January 1st which means it won't be produced anymore in the U.S. creating an instant shortage.
Joseph Fiducioso who works for The Wirenut Home Services in Colorado Springs says customers will soon have some important AC decisions to make. Either incur the costs of maintaining an old R22 unit, or completely replace it.
"As supply drops prices are going to go through the roof and it is more economical to go to the newer refrigerant than it would be to repair something that's 15 or 16 years old that you're just going to have to dump more money into it," said Fiducioso.
So, why the ban on R22? Well, when you use your AC unit refrigerant can escape in the form of a leak. It travels through the air as gas. That's when the chlorine atoms break off and tear apart the ozone layer.
David Hastings with University of South Florida says the ban on R22 was necessary for the environment.
"Eliminating this both saves the ozone layer and increasing the temperature even more," said Hastings.
The last R22 units were built back in 2010 and the good news for consumers is experts say with regular maintenance those units can last 15 years or more, but technicians are warning people not to put off AC issues because it will cost you in the end.
"How long they wait is going to determine how much money they are going to spend," said Fiducioso. "A year from now it might develop, or show some signs of a leak and you need that refrigerant. It's going to cost more."
News5 followed up with auto repair shops in town who say the R22 phase out shouldn't impact drivers, but for homeowners what used to be a $200 repair could now cost thousands of dollars.
If you have questions about your unit, or would like more information you can contact the experts at: thewirenut.com