Most of you are not aware that my day job is with central air conditioning contractor in Tampa FL. I need to tell you about something that is coming up in the A/C industry in a little over two years which will effect you homeowners out there.
Currently, the vast majority of residential central air conditioners use a refrigerant called R-22. Some systems already use the newer, more environmentally friendly refrigerant called R-410a, but R-22 far and away is the most common refrigerant in homes.
Starting in 2010, a little over two years from now R-22 systems will no longer be available. Also, starting in 2010 the manufacturing of new R-22 will start to be limited until the only R-22 available by 2020 will be recycled refrigerant. This will cause repairs involving refrigerant for R-22 systems more expensive.
What this means for those looking for a new system today
If you need a new air conditioning system, it is recommended that you get the new R-410a system. In most cases the prices are comparable.
Most central air systems have two parts: in Florida the outdoor unit is a heat pump and the indoor unit is an air handler. You Yankees have a condenser outside and a furnace with a cased coil inside. If you have a system where one section is much older than the other, you may want to replace the older section before 2010. If either section of an R-22 system should fail in 2010 or later the only alternative would be to replace the entire system.
I'm not shilling for my employer. I don't think any of the folks who post comments here live in our service area, but I don't want to see any of my blogger friends get hosed by some shady contractor.
Post any questions in the comments; I'll be happy to answer them.