Considering buying a home with a central air conditioning or a heat pump system now that another Northern Virginia summer is approaching? Well it is essential that you know that as of January 1, 2010, manufacturers aren’t going to build any new systems using R-22 refrigerant or any new spare parts for those existing systems using R-22. And, virtually all those old HVAC systems use R-22 to work their magic.
Eliminating a Greenhouse Gas at home
The 1992 Montreal Protocol was amended to phase out HCFCs (Hydro chlorofluorocarbons), commonly referred to as a Greenhouse Gas, which have been identified as causing damage to the ozone layer. The refrigerant known as R-22 is HCFC-22. The U.S. EPA implements Title VI of the Clean Air Act, and the 1st of January was an important phase-out date under the amended Montreal Protocol.
This situation came to light recently when a RE/MAX Presidential colleague was called out of town and his buyer client’s had a home inspection on a cute little Vienna, Virginia home. The home inspector must have pointed out that the Lennox system was from 1992 (yes, there is a manufacture date on the label) and that it would need replacement when it pooped out.
In the meantime, there are home buyer warranty programs that have coverage for existing R-22 systems in the first year which addressed the buyer’s concerns. This specific R-22 coverage is new, but like all types of insurance they have limits and fine print for pre-existing conditions. It is best for home sellers to provide this coverage (costs about $450 at closing) to the buyer in case service is needed in the first year.
Home Owners should budget now to replace R-22 heat pump systems
If you are a current home owner like me who has an R-22 heat pump system, then it may be time to start budgeting for a replacement heat pump or A/C system. Most systems now meet EPA Energy Star standards and qualifications using a replacement refrigerant like Puron® or SUVA 410A®. New Energy Star units use considerably less electricity and the savings are significant and almost pay for themselves over five years.
Only a licensed HVAC contractor can calculate what type of system you will need to install to properly heat or cool your home. Using the square footage of your home and other factors, they will determine the proper “tonnage” of your compressor unit. Too big and it won’t work properly. Today’s systems are quieter outside and have multi-speed air handlers for better air flow inside. But remember, gget a few estimates and the highest SEER rating that fits your needs.
Make sure to get a few estimates of replacement systems, and make sure that your system qualifies for the $1,500.00 Energy Star Tax Credit.
The EPA has published consumer guidelines that may be helpful if you are concerned about this issue or are planning to replace your R-22 Air Conditioner or Heat Pump system this year.
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