An air conditioner repair person has told you that you’re low on Freon (a brand name of refrigerant.) And he’s charging you an arm and a leg to add more!
You’re right to be concerned, because refrigerant is never used up like gas in a car.
Your air conditioner is a sealed system, meaning there shouldn’t be a way for the refrigerant to escape other than by a leak.
So, does your system actually need more refrigerant or are you being scammed?
Answer these 3 questions to find out.
1) Did you call this repair person or was it an unsolicited visit?
If it was unsolicited, the person may be scamming you. Even if they look professional (nice truck and uniform) any person who just happened to drive by and say they noticed an issue should be distrusted.
2) Did the repair person find this “problem” from a free maintenance visit?
If you answered “yes,” this person may be scamming you.
According to the BBB a “less scrupulous company might try to trick consumers by offering an allegedly ‘free’ service with the overall intent of making a high pressure sales pitch.”
Think about it like this: quality maintenance costs time and money on the repair person’s part (manpower, time, gas, etc.). So a free maintenance visit makes little sense other than to find a “problem” that does not exist.
3) Did the repair person actually check the refrigerant level or for leaks?
if the answer is “no” this person may be scamming you.
Here’s why: Maybe you called the contractor and told him that, “My air conditioner isn’t cooling very well,” or “My air conditioner is blowing hot air!”
This may be a symptom that you’re low on refrigerant. But low refrigerant isn’t not the only reason why your air conditioner isn’t cooling properly.
So if their assumption is that you’re low on refrigerant, but they don’t actually test to see if that’s the case, then RUN!
Try some basic air conditioner troubleshooting to see if that gets your AC cooling properly.
If that does not work, call another professional for a second opinion.
“OK, but what about the outrageous cost of the refrigerant?”
Let’s assume you called the repair person, he’s actually tested your AC, and you are indeed low on refrigerant.
Now, you may be wondering, “Why is the refrigerant charge so stinkin’ expensive!” Well, long story short, it’s supply and demand.
Let us explain.
Older air conditioner need to use R-22 refrigerant. Because R-22 is bad for the environment, the government is phasing it out. That means they’re reducing how much can be produced every year.
So since there’s a low supply and high demand of R-22 the price has skyrocketed—and will continue to do so.
Remember, low refrigerant isn’t your only problem
Like we said before, you air conditioner shouldn’t be low on refrigerant unless there’s a leak. Anyone who tells you that you need new refrigerant every X years is scamming you!
The repair person should find the leak and let you know how much it would cost to repair it. If the leak is bad and your air conditioner is old, you may want to consider replacing your air conditioner.
If that happens, then check out our article “A Beginner Buyer’s Guide to Purchasing the Perfect Air Conditioner for Your Home.”
Want a second opinion on if you need refrigerant? Or do you just want another price for what it would cost to add more? Contact us for help if you live in the Twin Cities.