Goettl Air Conditioning Blog

2018 Industry Leaders of Arizona are honored

A joyous crowd filled JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa Thursday night for Az Business magazine’s 2018 Industry Leaders of Arizona Awards.

“John Quincy Adams once said, ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader,’” said AZ Big Media Publisher Cheryl Green. “Tonight, we are recognizing organizations that are doing just that by driving innovation, carrying out visions and producing success in a way that stands out from the competition.”

Companies were honored as Industry Leaders of Arizona in five key industries: 

• Healthcare Support Services

• Food and Beverage

• Aerospace and Defense

• Software Firms and Data Support

• Commercial & Residential Service Contractors

Making the evening possible as sponsors were Arcadia Capital Partners, Clark Hill, Cresa, Lovitt & Touché and Merestone.

“All the finalists tonight are innovators who excel, who are passionate about making Arizona a better place to do business, a better place to live, a better place to play and, most importantly, who help create a better place to stay,” Green said.

Here are those who were honored:

Healthcare Support Services

Winner: Pinnacle Transplant Technologies

Finalists: Arizona’s Children Association, Circle the City, Homewatch CareGivers, Sonora Quest Laboratories, Southwest Human Development       

Food and Beverage

Winner: Stern Produce

Finalists: Café Valley, Jennifer’s Catering and Events, Isagenix, M Culinary Concepts, Sprouts Farmers Market

Aerospace and Defense

Winner: GECO Incorporated

Finalists: Able Aerospace Services, AvAir, Aerospace Contacts, Cutter Aviation, ITS

Software Firms and Data Support

Winner: Digital Air Strike

Finalists: FacilitySource, Ipro Tech, JDA Software, Mobivity, Vixxo

Commercial and Residential Service Contractors

Winner: Goettl Air Conditioning

Finalists: AAA Landscape, Azpro group, California Pools and Landscape, Canyon State Electric, DP Electric, Goettl Air Conditioning, Sun Mechanical, Wilson Electric

In addition, two special awards were presented:

• Breakthrough Award, which recognizes the adversity that often needs to be overcome to become successful in business: Café Valley

• Founder’s Award., which is presented to a company whose founder has impacted Arizona’s business community: AAA Landscape

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Goettl celebrates 79 years of keeping Arizona cool

In 1939, the U.S. was emerging from the Depression and some 65,000 people called the small desert city of Phoenix home. At the time, the region’s economy revolved around the copper, cotton, citrus and cattle industries. The city was also quickly gaining a national reputation as a sought-after destination and winter tourism began to flourish. And internationally, threats of war loomed to change history. 

Amid this intriguing backdrop, a pair of brothers from Austria moved to Phoenix. Gust and Adam Goettl had a vision to establish a company that could make the intense desert heat a livable environment. The pair would establish Goettl Air Conditioning on Feb. 14, 1939 and revolutionize cooled air technology paving the way for a population boom in the emerging Southwest.

As demand grew for their product, the Goettl brothers would pioneer sheet metal manufacturing and hone the process to a science – at one point the brothers had more than 100 patents on their technology. Soon, however, World War II would change the world’s landscape and the brothers were quick to shift their manufacturing operations to support the war and the need for metal-related products.

In fact, Phoenix would begin to establish itself as a military industrial center with three air force fields – Luke, Williams and Falcon Field – training and supporting soldiers from around the U.S. These facilities would join the Desert Training Center created by General George S. Patton, which would bring thousands of military men and women to the desert to train and support war efforts.

The Phoenix Rises

While all of this was occurring, air conditioning made the environment livable. The prevalence of air conditioning in homes and offices, made the state attractive to businesses, tourist, retirees and those seeking refuge from bitter winters in the Midwest and along the East Coast. By the 1950s, the use of cooled air technology would spur a growth boom that continues today. By 1960, Phoenix grew more in a year than it did in from statehood in 1914 to the end of World War II.

Since this series of linked events, the Goettl name has been recognized for excellence in heating and air conditioning installation. A consumer-focused brand, the Goettl name and reputation continued to grow. The term “Goettl” was soon used to epitomize strength, power and longevity as a source of hospitality in the searing and relentless desert heat.

The Goettl brothers would also pioneer marketing of their product. Since most didn’t understand how the technology could work to cool their homes, the brothers would strap air conditioning units on trucks and drive around town blasting cool air on the porches of residents, tempting them with the refreshing, breezy air. Once the wondrous cool air reached the faces of families trying to survive the desert heat, it was a done deal and Goettl would soon be a household name.

“We are truly honored to carry on the well-known legacy of the Goettl brand,” said Ken Goodrich, CEO and owner of Goettl Air Conditioning. “The Goettl brothers invented the industry and created an innovative and well-respected brand. Today, the ‘Goettl workhorse’ is well-known and continues to be cited in awe by industry peers.”

The Iron-Horse Inspires

Goodrich, whose father, J. Duncan Goodrich, was an HVAC expert himself, would join his dad on jobs as a child where he would hold a flashlight to help complete jobs in Las Vegas during hot, dark nights. The experience would lead Goodrich to use the image of his own son, Duncan, in his marketing holding a flashlight illuminating the right way to complete HVAC jobs. It was during these jobs that the younger Goodrich would begin to admire the Goettl brand for its “iron-horse” longevity and integrity in the industry.

Later, when Ken Goodrich established his own HVAC company, Goettl was the only brand willing to extend him credit to nurture his business. Goodrich would continue to build his HVAC businesses, but he would never forget the Goettl brand.

By 2013, the economic recession and a hyper-competitive industry, had taken its toll on Goettl in Arizona. Ownership changes threatened to kill the Goettl brand.

Enter Goodrich, an air conditioning industry executive who has bought and sold several HVAC companies around the U.S. In 2013, he took control of Goettl and immediately installed new management and systems to manage the company. Soon, Goettl Air Conditioning went from hemorrhaging millions of dollars a year to being a profitable, industry pioneer yet again. Soon, Goodrich would start expanding Goettl Air Conditioning throughout the Southwest while resurrecting the brand and ideals that shaped the company.

Class Is In: Goettl University

Later this year, the Goettl name will be elevated to new heights when Goodrich opens a new Las Vegas headquarters, which will include “Goettl University.”

Besides housing 200 employees of Goettl Air Conditioning, the 53,000-square-foot Las Vegas facility will also have the region’s largest state-of-the-art training center: Goettl University. The facility will include a 100-seat customer service center and mock HVAC systems built into the complex for realistic hands-on training and learning.

“This facility and Goettl University will fulfill a life-long dream of mine where HVAC technicians throughout the U.S. will be trained the Goettl way,” said Goodrich, who will continue to transform the industry and maintain the commitment to quality and doing the right thing for consumers. “Our technicians will receive ongoing real-life training and will be taught to be perfectionists – just like my father trained me. Every customer experience, every screw and bolt we install and every detail in the process will be best in class. Perfection will be our guide.”

Goodrich expanded Goettl Air Conditioning to his hometown of Las Vegas in April 2016. Since 2015 alone, Goettl has experienced 500 percent year-over-year growth and continues to grow. Today, Goettl Air Conditioning operates in Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas and Southern California. Goodrich plans on continuing to expand nationally. “Our plan is simple: grow the Goettl Air Conditioning brand and continue the iconic legacy and founding principals that made the company the most trusted and leader in the industry.”

 

 

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Carbon Monoxide: How to Keep Your Family Safe From This Silent Killer

By Ken Goodrich

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year accidental carbon monoxide poisoning sickens more than 25,000 people in the U.S. and nearly 500 people die annually from exposure to the odorless and undetectable gas. In the desert, the cool months of December, January and February are typically when most homeowners and their families are vulnerable as gas heaters are used to keep warm. However, a few simple tips can help prevent illness and death. Here’s what you need to know.

How can I ensure the air my family breaths doesn’t have carbon monoxide poisoning?

Installing and maintaining a carbon monoxide detector is the best defense to prevent illness and death from carbon monoxide. Since “CO” is odorless and colorless, a detector can help save your loved ones. CO is produced when fuel is burned to produce heat and a detector is the only way to monitor the gas levels in your home.

Is a CO detector expensive and can I install one by myself?

Installing and maintaining a carbon monoxide detector is not difficult, however finding the right location to install one is vital. Include information here on where to install. A typical stand-alone detector will cost between $20 to $50.

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?

Headaches, dizziness and an upset stomach are key indicators that CO might be at unhealthy levels in your home. Unfortunately, people sleeping are unaware that they might be breathing the gas so it’s important that CO detectors are located near sleeping areas in your home and have alarms loud enough to wake you.

Who is at risk for carbon dioxide poisoning?

Everyone is at risk for high levels of CO, however, the most vulnerable are infants, elderly and those with chronic heart disease.

 

What else should I know about CO?

Like smoke detectors, make sure you replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector annually in your home. In dessert areas , we always recommend homeowners do this in the spring when they service their HVAC systems before the summertime heat.

You should have your HVAC system, water heater and any other gas burning appliances checked by a qualified technician each year to ensure there are no leaks or unknown harm looming.
Ken Goodrich is owner and CEO of Goettl Air Conditioning

About Goettl Air Conditioning
Goettl Air Conditioning, established in 1939, offers the highest quality AC and heating equipment and a full range of maintenance, repair and replacement services. Goettl operates in the Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas and Southern California areas. All Goettl technicians are background-checked, drug-tested and receive continuous technical training to make them the best in the industry. Goettl AC was recently named the “Best HVAC” company by readers of Arizona Foothills Magazine’s “Best of Our Valley 2018”

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Ken Goodrich, CEO of Goettl Air Conditioning

Originally published: 12.01.17 by HVACR Business Staff

Ken Goodrich, CEO of Goettl Air Conditioning

We sat down with Ken Goodrich, owner and CEO of Goettl Air Conditioning. Recently, Goettl made a $10 million investment on a mixed-use building that will become its headquarters and state-of-the-art technician training center. Goodrich discussed growing up in the industry, the art of acquiring companies and the need to give back to the community.

1. How did you get started in this industry?

I was recruited by my father, at the age of 10, to hold the flashlight for him while he worked on air conditioners. By the time I was old enough to drive, I was proficient as an air conditioning technician and ran service calls.

2. Is this what you always wanted to do?

No. I grew up in Las Vegas and it can be miserably hot on those roofs. I decided that wasn’t the way I wanted to make a living, so I went to college and got a degree in finance. When I interviewed for finance jobs, I’d get offers that were half of what I was making in HVACR. I couldn’t wrap my head around making half the pay, so I just decided to start my own business and go with what I knew.

3. So, you actually started your own company?

About the time I decided to return to HVAC, my dad fell ill and passed away. I purchased the business from my mother, it was called Racee Air Conditioning. I went to work on building an enterprise rather than a family business.

4. How did that business evolve?

Over the next 10 years, I had my struggles learning how to run a business and understanding how to implement business systems and processes, as well as creating management teams and leading people. Eventually, I built a fairly successful company, which attracted an HVACR industry consolidator in 1997.

5. What did you do next?

I sold the company and worked for them for a couple of years. Being a part of a larger company exposed me to operating processes, acquisition strategies and new perspectives on how bigger business is done. I was intrigued to see if I could take that knowledge and apply it to another company.

6. So, you started another company?

In 2001, armed with my new-found perspective, I started putting some businesses together in Las Vegas and Phoenix, and we grew sizeable in those markets. We had five locations and ended up selling them to the same buyer as last time, in early 2008. I became the division vice-president, then the president of the Western Division for several years, when the opportunity presented itself to purchase Goettl Air Conditioning. It was something I could not pass up, as Goettl has been a part of my career since I started.

7. What intrigued you about acquiring Goettl?

Goettl was the brand of the first air conditioner I shined the flashlight on for my dad when I was 10-years-old. Goettls were designed to operate in the high ambient temperatures of the Sonoran and Mohave Deserts. So, when I was growing up and learning the business, my dad installed Goettls.

8. How many businesses have you acquired?

In my career I’ve acquired 60 or more businesses. In my latest venture, I have acquired four, one in California, and three in Las Vegas. We currently have branches in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson and Corona, Calif.

9. Are there more plans to grow?

Yes. We’re aiming to significantly increase our footprint throughout California. Our next move is toward Sacramento, and then going further into Los Angeles. We’re in what they call the Inland Empire, Riverside County area, which is hot weather. But, we want to expand that office to service further towards the coast and the L.A. county border.

10. How do you ensure you’re not too big?

I’m the guy who says, “Okay. We can go now” or “We need to slow down a little bit”, and it’s all based on performance metrics. We count 22 things every single day. We talk about the cause and the effect of why those numbers are right or wrong, and what to do about it. If we’re not routinely hitting those metrics, we slow down and regain our focus.

11. What’s the key to acquiring a company?

The number one thing you have to start with is leadership — leadership inside the branch or the business. Usually, when I find struggling companies, it’s because they’re struggling with management.

12. How do you fix that?

We establish a culture of achievement, customer service, accountability and teamwork. We create that culture, and then we accelerate the performance of the business. If I had to break it down to one thing, its leadership.

13. Once you install leadership, what’s next?

You have to find the talent. This is one of the key reasons for the new Goettl University, because we’re not only going to train our technicians and installers, we’re going to train our next management teams. Leadership skills and management skills will be part of our curriculum.

14. How are you setting up that curriculum?

We’ve recruited two industry trainers and they’re currently preparing the curriculum for all the key, basic understandings of the trade, and repairing and installing air conditioning systems. We’ve also taken that to the next level whereby we’re really close to being done McDonaldizing our business.

15. Can you explain that?

We have every repair, every type of installation documented — pictures and a training curriculum on each and every one of them, so that we can bring a guy in who has some experience, and then we’re going teach him to build a Big Mac our way, so to speak.

16. Can you tell us about your sponsorship at the College of Southern Nevada?

When the economy was down in 2008, they were looking at programs to cut out, and the HVACR school was one on the chopping block. I really respect the head of the program, Dennis Soukop. He’s put out some great people and done so much for the industry, I couldn’t let the program fail. I created a $250,000 endowment to basically show the college and the governor that the program had meaning and supporters.

17. What else has Goettl done to help the school?

We’ve also done an endowment for $100,000 to help veterans who graduate from the program. It gives them their first set of tools of the trade. There are two other scholarships: one is the Son of a Gun Scholarship which you’re eligible to receive if you’re the son of a contractor and want to learn the trade.

18. Why is it so important to give back like that?

It’s incumbent upon all business owners to give back to the communities in which they earn their livings. It’s also an effective way to rally your team around things other than the business to create a good work environment. If we rally the team around giving back to the community, helping the veterans or helping the homeless, it builds a stronger team.

19. How important is a company culture?

It’s everything. Culture is one of the key elements to a good turnaround. It’s the leadership and the culture.

20. How do you ensure you’re getting the quality you expect from your team?

I clearly define who we are and communicate that to the team. I define our vision and our mission, and we establish best practices to achieve these things. We also develop a culture of accountability to ensure we deliver an outstanding customer experience each time we are in a home and we motivate our team to achieve our goals.

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How to Avoid Getting Sick When Turning on Your Heater

By Ken Goodrich

Finally. After months of harsh, intense heat, the fall months bring cooler air to our community. Before you turn on your heat, make sure your HVAC won’t pollute your indoor air and, possibly, make you and your family sick. It’s true: one of the most common reasons people get sick in the fall is because their heater is pumping out polluted, contaminated and germ-ridden air and making their lives miserable. Here’s how you should tackle turning on your furnace/heater for the first time this fall to avoid any issues.

What’s the healthiest way to turn on my heater and make sure the air in my home is safe to breathe?

If your air filter and heating coil elements of your HVAC are not cleaned and ready for the heat that comes with turning on your HVAC, it will burn all the built-up pollen, dust, molds, and other dirt elements and blow them into the atmosphere of your residence. Be sure to have your system cleaned and change the filter that will trap tinier contaminants.

What process should I take when first turning-on my heater?

We advise customers to open their windows, turn on the HVAC and let it run for an hour while it clears the season’s debris, then change the filter. By doing these simple steps, you greatly reduce any harm to our family.

How can I ensure the air my family is breathing in my home is free of pollutants?

Air quality in our community is among the worst in the U.S. Our windy and dust-driven climate makes it vital to keep your air ducts clean and free of contaminants. This is especially important during the summer when desert storms bring significant amounts of dust into your home on a daily basis. Some dust contains dangerous spores and diseases like valley fever. Besides dust, insect droppings and pet dander build-up in the ducts and can cause health problems for many including the elderly, small children and those with existing respiratory distress. Keeping your ducts clean will help ensure the air in your home is free of contaminants.

Ken Goodrich is owner and CEO of Goettl Air Conditioning

About Goettl Air Conditioning
Goettl Air Conditioning, established in 1939, offers the highest quality AC and heating equipment and a full range of maintenance, repair and replacement services. Goettl operates in the Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas and Southern California areas. All Goettl technicians are background-checked, drug-tested and receive continuous technical training to make them the best in the industry. Goettl AC was recently named the “Best HVAC” company by readers of Arizona Foothills Magazine’s “Best of Our Valley 2017.”

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Goettl Air Conditioning Invests $10 Million in Las Vegas

We suppose that there are certain companies out there that are only concerned with their own bottom line. Here at Goettl Air Conditioning, though, we like to think that we are more than just a company servicing our community. We prefer to think of ourselves as a part of that community. This is why we are so focused on giving back to our community.

Our owner and CEO, Ken Goodrich, has just closed on a $10,000,000 building in Las Vegas, which will serve as the company’s headquarters and will house our state-of-the-art technician training center. Sure, Ken could probably have shopped around for cheaper alternatives in different areas. But why not funnel our own success back into the community that has been so good to us?

The new facility, when renovations are complete, will fulfill a lifelong dream of Ken’s, serving as “Goettl University, where HVAC technicians throughout the U.S. will be trained in the Goettl way,” he says. The Goodrich family has deep ties to Las Vegas, where the family has been for 3 generations. Now, Goettl University will be available to train HVAC technicians for generations to come.

 

Read the full article here: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/goettl-air-conditioning-invests-10-million-in-las-vegas-300545535.html

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Goettl Air Conditioning helps victims of hurricane in Puerto Rico

Business News | 18 Oct |

An employee of Goettl Air Conditioning in Phoenix has been leading a donation drive to help people in the hurricane-ravished island of Puerto Rico.

Fernando De La Garza, a native of Puerto Rico, has been rallying employee efforts to donate clothing and other personal items for those still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria. Besides the clothing donations, Goettl Air Conditioning is also sending 610 flashlights to Puerto Rico. Other donations include blankets, powdered Gatorade and various toiletries and personal hygiene items.

Goettl Air Conditioning is known for giving flashlights to customers and neighbors while doing AC repairs in the field. Goettl Air Conditioning also uses flashlights in its marketing efforts, which outline how Goettl owner Ken Goodrich would hold a flashlight while helping his father complete AC repairs when Ken was a small boy.

“We hope to bring some light and comfort to people still struggling in Puerto Rico,” said Goodrich. “I’m happy to see our employees jumping in to help and I’m proud of Fernando for stepping up to lead the charge.”

Since Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, it has wreaked havoc on the island prompting food and water shortages while destroying much of Puerto Rico’s communications and power networks.

Garza, who hails from Puerto Rico, has family and friends who are still trying to recover and make ends-meet.

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By Ken Goodrich as featured in The Arizona Republic 8/26/2017

Why is the cost to recharge your AC unit going up?

By 2020, Arizona air-conditioning users will be forced to find new sources of refrigerant to recharge their systems as R22, a popular Freon now in use, will be phased out by order of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA believes R22 harms the ozone layer and its use will be banned forever in January 2020. There are other types of less harmful refrigerants that will replace R22, but homeowners today need to make informed decisions when servicing and replacing their AC units.

Here are some common questions:

I keep hearing about R22. What is it and how does it impact air-conditioning in my home? R22 is a type of Freon refrigerant that helps your air conditioning produce cool air. The EPA has determined R22 harms the ozone layer and has ordered it to be phased out of use by 2020. Once this happens, R22 will no longer be produced or imported and will be replaced with R-410A. Air-conditioning manufacturers stopped production of R22-charged systems in 2010.

Why is the EPA phasing out R22? Hydrochlorofluorocarbons, or HCFCs, are chemicals that are mainly used as refrigerants. Unfortunately, the EPA has found the releases of HCFCs can deplete the Earth’s protective ozone layer and contribute to climate change.

What should I do? Do I need to replace my AC unit? No, you don’t have to replace your AC system at this time. You can continue to use R22 in existing systems, however, it will be available only from older systems that have been recycled, reclaimed or recovered. Lower supply of R22 is already resulting in much higher costs to recharge AC systems, and there will be no guarantee that R22 will be available in the future. In fact, R22 costs 10 times what it did five years ago. According to the EPA, “as a homeowner, you need to consider and balance several key factors in your decision to purchase a new unit, such as energy efficiency, performance, reliability, cost and the refrigerant used.”

Should I buy a new unit now or wait until 2020? It really depends. You’ll need to balance the age of your system with cost benefits realized from new systems. New, energy-efficient air-conditioners save on energy costs. Even if your air conditioner is less than 10 years old, you may save significantly on your energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model, according to the EPA.

How do I know what kind of AC unit I should consider buying? A central air-conditioner that has earned the ENERGY STAR label is at least 14 percent more efficient and will save you money. Ken Goodrich is owner and CEO of Goettl Air Conditioning.

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Goettl Air Conditioning Supports Motocrosser in ‘Longest Race in U.S.’

LAS VEGAS – (Aug. 31, 2017) – HVAC entrepreneur Ken Goodrich and his team at Goettl Air Conditioning donated thousands of dollars to help one of its employees’ children compete in the Best in the Desert, an epic 545-mile race through the desert from Las Vegas to Reno.

Dubbed “the longest race is the United States,” hundreds of competitors participate in the brutal race. Among those competing this year was Brett Aguilera and his racing partner, Tallon Taylor. The duo entered the 300 Pro-Class Race with Aguilera’s 2016 KTM 250 sx. The pair placed first in class and 37th overall.

Goodrich, CEO and Owner at Goettl AC in Las Vegas, supported Aguilera’s efforts to race. Goodrich was one of a handful sponsors whose contributions helped fund the journey. Goodrich paid $1,200 for Goettl’s sponsorship and he also sweetened the deal with a $1,000 bonus for Aguilera winning his class.

Aguilera also won first-place is the same race last year. “I’m so grateful for everyone who has supported me,” said Aguilera, who singled out his parents and other sponsors including TEAM AGGIE, Goettl AC, The Williams Bros., Kayu Trucking, Thurlow Wealth Management, Baja Nikki, Eddy King, Silver State Speed Shop, Jason Roar, Scotty Robertson, Fly Racing, X Brand Goggles, Fasst Co., Sidi Boots and Dubya wheels.

 

The duo started the race physically at 13th overall out of 92 bike and quad teams. Halfway through, they were seventh overall, but had some mechanical problems that took them out of the action for more than an hour. Later, they would finish at 12 hours, 48 minutes and 48 seconds – and in first-place.

“I’ve been racing since I was about 5-years-old,” Aguilera added. “I just love it and I am so thankful for everyone who helps me compete – it’s a dream come true.”

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Here’s what you need to know about phase-out of A/C Freon

The year 2020 will capture attention for being an election year and perhaps for the summer Olympics in Tokyo. On the homeownership side of things, however, it’s the year that an old ozone-eating refrigerant long-used in American home air conditioning units is finally retired for good.

R-22 refrigerant, commonly known by brand name Freon, will no longer be imported or produced in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2020. With that, homeowners will see already escalating R-22 prices continuing to climb as supplies dwindle. Meanwhile, they will also be faced with questions about when to replace an aging system running on R-22.

The good news is, that in many cases, there are ways to tend to repairs that won’t require replacement of older systems using R-22 right away. Still, it’s important to find an honest air conditioning contractor who won’t try to talk you into an unnecessary replacement, said Dennis Soukup, director of the air conditioning technologies program at the College of Southern Nevada, which has educated thousands of valley air conditioning technicians through the years.

“I’m concerned about service technicians forced to be salesmen, and they’re telling people doom and gloom and that they need to buy a new unit when it’s really only a very common repair,” Soukup said.

Soukup, along with other experts, weighed in on what consumers should know about the potential effects of the coming R-22 production deadline.

The what and why of it

R-22 is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon known to contribute to ozone layer depletion. The U.S. Clean Air Act under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer indicates that on Jan. 1, 2020, the U.S. will no longer produce or import the refrigerant anymore. Air conditioning companies will be allowed to sell their remaining supplies of R-22 produced prior to the deadline, said EPA spokesperson Enesta Jones.

Air conditioning system manufacturers stopped using R-22 in 2010, replacing it in new units with the more ozone-friendly R-410A refrigerant. But for those with older systems still using R-22, that doesn’t mean an immediate replacement is needed.

“R-22 that is recovered and reclaimed, along with R-22 produced prior to 2020, will help meet the needs of owners of existing R-22 systems well beyond the phase out date,” Jones added.

The pricing glitch

Using R-22, unfortunately, comes at a cost — a steep one at that. Because of diminishing supply levels, R-22, today, costs around $100 a pound to replace, said Ken Goodrich, president and CEO of Goettl Air Conditioning, a heating and air conditioning service company serving Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson.

“The price is about 10 times what it was five years ago,” Goodrich said.

The industry veteran also has seen home warranty companies institute clauses about R-22’s obsolescence and charge higher fees for repairs as a result, sometimes upwards of $1,000.

“I’ve gotten calls from about 25 people this summer with home warranties saying ‘I gotta pay $1,000 because of R-22,’” he said. “Some make the decision that they’d rather put that $1,000 towards a new high-efficiency unit rather than a $1,000 Freon drop.”

Goodrich agrees with Soukup, saying, “If someone says you need to replace a system just because of R-22, I’d say that’s not quite the case.”

Soukup says it’s important to watch out for common repairs such as fan motors, capacity relays, contactors and other system parts suddenly becoming a conversation about replacing a unit because of R-22.

“It’s 117 degrees out and people are scared. Someone says you need a new unit and it’s really only a routine item,” Soukup said. “You don’t need a new car when you only have a flat tire. … I tell people, ‘Don’t panic until you have a bad compressor.’”

 Alternatives to Freon

There also are several alternatives that R-22 systems can use without needing retrofitting. They are what the industry terms as “drop ins” not requiring changes to seals or oils within the sealed air conditioning system.

The most common alternative refrigerants are R-422D, R-427A and R-407C. Soukup categorizes them as “good, better, best” and routinely uses R-407C, saying it is very close in performance to R-22.

“If my unit was to leak and have a problem that’s routine and does not require a major component change, I’d use R-407C. It’s about a 98 percent spot-on identical replacement to R-22,” he said.

The alternatives come at about one-third the cost of today’s R-22 price, too.

While Soukup sees R-407C as a viable alternative, Goodrich prefers to top off systems, after fixing leaks with R-22, adding that in some cases systems can run up to 30 percent less efficient, particularly in extreme heat above 105 degrees.

“These drop-ins just aren’t going to have the same capacity. … The air tends to be about 3 degrees warmer. That’s the downside,” Goodrich said. “The upside is you can keep the old machine running and not have to spend $6,000 or $8,000. and you can push it off for a little while. … You just have to remember that it’s not going to be as good as putting in new Freon.”

Maintenance, things to watch for

The R-22 phase-out can impact a few maintenance and repair scenarios any homeowner might face. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

■ No either/or: If you have R-22 refrigerant in your system and levels are low, you must either refill with R-22 or, if you decide to use an alternative, the R-22 must be removed and completely recaptured and the system must be refilled completely with the alternative. It cannot simply be topped off with a cheaper alternative refrigerant, experts explained.

“A good technician should show you and break down the difference in price and clearly explain what they’re doing,” Soukup added.

■ R-22 certification: When selecting a contractor, make sure he or she has the EPA’s Section 608 certification, which is needed to service equipment containing R-22, Jones said.

“Homeowners should also request that service technicians locate and repair leaks instead of just ‘topping off’ leaking systems,” she added.

■ Watch the attic: If you have a unit where one part of it is outside and the other in the attic (most single family residences in Las Vegas do), make sure the technician also services the unit in the attic, Goodrich said. Just tending to the condenser outside of the home is not enough.

“Make sure they go up in that attic. That’s where a lot of leaks happen,” he said.

■ Tune-up time: An annual tune-up should occur in the spring when the weather first starts to warm up. “It’s that first time you reach to change the thermostat, that’s when I tell people to call someone out,” Soukup said.

■ Basic maintenance: Both Soukup and Goodrich also suggest other general maintenance to extend the life of the unit, such as regularly changing air filters, checking the thermostat battery annually and keeping the outside air conditioning coil free of weeds and bushes.

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