Dwindling Freon supplies leading to A/C contractor scare tactics?

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Freon can be confusing to the consumer. Freon can be confusing to the consumer.
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

As a big change to A/C units continues to roll out, some contractors may be resorting to scare tactics to compel you to buy a new system.

As of 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency requires all new air conditioning units to be manufactured without using Freon. It's to help the environment. But older systems continue to use Freon and some companies may want you to think that's a problem. It isn't.

If you've got an older A/C system, it uses R-22, known as Freon. The EPA is phasing out Freon. Less of it is being produced and less of it is on the market, but Mike Donley of Donley Service Center says homeowners shouldn't worry.

"Freon is going to be available for quite awhile. The supply will go down; price will go up, but it's still going to be available," Donley said.

Donley says some A/C contractors are using the dwindling supply of Freon to scare consumers into buying new systems. They're using mailers that reference the banned substance and imply immediate action is needed.

"Yes, the EPA is phasing it down, but it's not illegal to have Freon in your unit," Donley said.

Donley says homeowners shouldn't feel pressured. If your unit was built prior to 2010, it may have many years of useful life left.

"If you're unit is running properly, and it's cooling your house, especially after the last 10 days of heat, you don't have to do anything," Donley said.

Units made since 2010 use environmentally-friendlier 410-A instead of R-22. Donley says wait till your older unit develops a major problem; then make a decision.

"Do you fix it and put Freon back in, which is more expensive than new refrigerant, or do you look at a new high-efficiency machine," Donley said.

Freon will continue to be produced until 2020 but at lower levels. It should be available for years after 2020 but at higher prices.

So again, Donley's best advice if you have an older unit is to continue maintaining it until it fails. Then you'll most likely need to buy a new unit but a change isn't needed until then. Freon is legal and should remain available.

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