No panic needed over A/C Units

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Consumers may have heard rumors that they need to replace their air conditioning units before the end of the year due to a ban on a refrigerant called R-22.

However, Kellie Loudin, vice president of Rumer-Loudin Inc., a heating and air conditioning contractor with offices in Barnesville and St. Clairsville, said that is not the case and people should be careful before making a decision about their systems.

“People don’t have to change their units,” Loudin said.

The worry stems from an upcoming ban on the manufacturing and importing of a refrigerant used in air conditioners called R-22, Loudin explained. Manufacturing and importing of R-22 is being halted at the end of this year due to the Montreal Protocol, a global environmental agreement finalized in the late 1980s to protect the ozone, Loudin said.

Loudin is fearful that unknowing consumers might be taken advantage of by dishonest contractors who misrepresent the truth about R-22. She also said people may receive erroneous news reports, so she wants to set the record straight.

“I received a call from an elderly customer worried about this after seeing a news report that said everyone will need to replace their air conditioners next year because refrigerant won’t be available,” Loudin said. “I also had a friend in the Washington, D.C. area express concern because her contractor told her that her air conditioner would only be repairable for another year because the refrigerant would not be available. Neither of these beliefs is true.”

Loudin is concerned about people being taken advantage of by what she called “unscrupulous” contractors.

She also said people are not receiving the correct information.

“There’s a lot of misinformation in the news,” she said.

She suggests that people seek multiple sources to learn about R-22 and their air conditioners.

“People should seek more than one source of information and call more than one contractor,” Loudin said.

She recommends that consumers contact the Air Conditioning Contractors of America Association Inc. at 703-575-4477 or visit their site at www.acca.org.

She says people should know that the R-22 supply is not depleted. Some was stockpiled and some was recycled, she says. According to Loudin, three things consumers can do are use stockpiled R22, use recycled R22 or use a drop-in refrigerant that can replace R-22.

Loudin says she believes that these three measures should be enough to maintain most air conditioning units until they need replaced due to wear or are abandoned.