When there are company profits to be made a lot can go wrong for the customer in terms of knowing what to believe or not. Many HVAC contractors love an “emergency” or “crisis” because what better time to make a buck than a crisis. This is an unfortunate commentary on today’s heating and cooling trade, both commercially and residentially speaking. We have been known to say, “Whenever there is a profit to be made, question the motive of the one that stands to gain.” ~CAS. This could not be truer in today’s HVAC market. Why is this you may ask? We hope to explain in what follows.
Since the heating and cooling industry has been in existence there have always been the unscrupulous contractors to look out for. Add to that one of the biggest HVAC regulatory changes since the phase out of R11 & R12 and you have the perfect storm for rapid growth of dishonest and immoral practices by some contractors. Those same unscrupulous contractors now have an added marketing tool in the arsenal against the customer. The fear factor. Telling customers statements along the guidelines of the bullet points below:
- Your system can’t be repaired and must be replaced due to EPA requirements.
- Your system can’t be maintained any longer if leaks occur or refrigerant charging is needed.
- You can’t just replace your outdoor system because everything is R410a which requires both indoor and outdoor systems to be replaced.
The lists go on and on with what customers are being told. The bullet points listed above are all untrue. So what is the truth anyway? One of the driving reasons for CAS coming into existence was the idea that we could deal with the customers honestly and with integrity, not insulting their intelligence or taking advantage of what they do not know. The truth of the matter is that almost all manufactures produce and distribute what are called, “Dry Systems”. These systems are designed to operate with R22 but due to EPA regulations prohibiting production of systems factory charged with R22, they simply charge them with dry nitrogen. CFC licensed field technicians charge them with R22 refrigerant upon installation. EPA allows production and sale of dry systems to fall under repair of current systems with R22 or HCFC refrigerants. The truth is that customers do not need to replace the entire system. The truth is that they can replace just their outdoor system. While many contractors will debate the topic further by saying that the indoor or outdoor system will not match the efficiency of the portion of the system being replaced, the truth is that they are many times exaggerating the issue of efficiency. The truth is that there are plenty of 13 SEER, R22 heating and cooling systems in use currently, which is a match for the efficiency of a dry system. As for that equipment out there that may be 8 – 10 SEER, this is something that should be discussed with the customer when giving them all their options. Contractors have the option of going to the manufacturer of the customer’s current equipment and finding the most suitable dry system for their needed repair and any alterations needed. All this information should be openly revealed to the customer. This is what an HVAC contractor’s purpose is, to serve those in need of HVAC services with integrity. Contractors opposing the facts laid out here can argue all day long but at the end of the day the truth is that repairs and replacements should always, always be decisions made by the customer. The customer should be FULLY informed of ALL options, pros and cons, so that they can make the decision for themselves.
Not every customer has the money to replace an entire system. Not every customer wants to replace the entire system. Not every customer wants the newest and greatest system out there. Not every customer wants to maintain their system 4 times a year. Whether or not CAS or any other contractor should agree with the customer is not the issue. The issue is that the choice should be 100% up to the customer. Those contractors who push equipment sales by misstating EPA regulations and manipulating the truth should be ashamed and quite frankly shouldn’t be in business. Also, customers should not be surprised to learn of manufacturers who don’t like the sale of dry systems. In fact, Carrier themselves tried pushing the EPA into redoing the regulations in order to stop the manufacturers of dry systems. Carrier claimed that their reasoning was because dry systems did not fall in line with the overall phase out of HCFC refrigerants like R22. The truth? The fact is that production of dry R22 systems hurt the bottom line of new equipment sales.
Customers should have the choice and right to make the best decision for their HVAC needs. Contractors, including CAS may not always agree what it is that the customer wants, and neither CAS nor any other contractor is obligated to extend their services but all contractors are obligated to be honest and fair with the customer. At CAS we inform the customer of all options and give our professional recommendation, and even sometimes inform customers that we are not willing to perform certain repairs or installations as it is not in their best interest BUT CAS still informs them of all their options. CAS also doesn’t narrow the field of options, as many contractors do, so that the customer is more likely to install a brand new system. If it is an option…the customer knows about it even if CAS would choose not to perform the service. For those contractors that argue that there is no point in dry R22 systems because in 2020 there will be no further production of virgin R22 and the price of recycled R22 will be sky high. Well, there are drop-in or replacement refrigerants that can be used in place of R22 and they will be around for a long while, and these drop-ins are much cheaper. Drop-ins may require changing out of TXVs and oil along with other system components but isn’t that what service companies are there for?
Thank you for reading and CAS hopes this has been helpful.