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I had a routine AC system check. the system was cooling just fine. The reps were here 15 minutes total. They said they had to put in 4 lbs of recycled r-22 refrigerant. they charged me $125 per pound or $500. How do I know it need that much refrigerant? It was cooling fine before they came.

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    Where are you located? I am shocked at the price of R-22. The determination of the correct charge of refrigerant is made by measuring the pressures on the high side and the low side. It takes knowledge and experience to adjust the charge. You would have to get an independent determination by a qualified tech. I doubt it would be worth the cost. If the return refrigerant line cold at the place it is exposed on the compressor, then the charge (i.e., the amount of R-22 in the system) is almost certainly OK. – Jim Stewart Jun 21 '17 at 3:05
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    The real question is why they didn't attempt to find a leak. – Tyson Jun 21 '17 at 3:43
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    If you need 4lb, I would be expecting them to recommend a new unit or a leak fix... certainly not just present you with a fait accompli. What model is the unit? – Someone Somewhere Jun 21 '17 at 8:39
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    Many years ago when I still serviced residential A/C units we knew of companies that charged extreme prices for service and parts. I knew people who worked for these companies and they indicated that they were schooled in the "ART" of misrepresentation and cheating customers by charging for stuff they did not install and how to cause systems to need a later service call to fix their actions.It was illegal to "black list"these companies. They were not in business very long but while they were they hurt many customers and other reputable service companies with their schemes. – d.george Jun 21 '17 at 9:51
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You could refuse to pay the bill until they provide you with documentation of the pressure levels that prompted the addition of refrigerant and the amount of refrigerant required. They should have recorded this on the service sheet. Ask for a copy of their service sheet. Also, justification of their price of R-22 and why it is $125 per pound.

I believe HVAC contractors are required by the EPA to meticulously document all exchanges and uses of old refrigerants like R-22.

They should have discussed all of this with you BEFORE they did any repairs or additions of refrigerant. Especially since the cost was going to be so high.

Good luck!

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R-22 is being phased out, and manufacturers are only allowed to produce limited quantities. As the quantity produced goes down, the price goes up. $125 per pound is not unreasonable. It's a bit on the high end of pricing, but not excessively so.

That being said... Your A/C is a closed system. Meaning that under normal operation, no refrigerant should be lost. If your system has lost 4 lbs of refrigerant, then there must be a leak in the system. If the HVAC company did not repair the leak, they'll be back soon to sell you some more refrigerant.

As others have pointed out, they should be keeping accurate records regarding the usage of R-22. So they should be able to provide you with proper documentation showing how much refrigerant they used and why.

Without knowing the make and model of the equipment, the gauge pressures before and after the system was charged, the ambient outdoor temperature, etc. It's impossible to say if the system needed refrigerant, or if they actually added any. I'd contact somebody higher up at the company to discuss what happened. If that does not yield satisfactory results, contact a lawyer and/or the BBB.

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