Need to replace ancient R-22 units after flood
My units are 25 years old, Ruud 2.5 ton and 2.0 ton, for downstairs and upstairs respectively.
Due to record flooding in New Jersey, they were completely submerged in water, including the panels and wiring. A lot of mud and debris became lodged inside the condensers.
Finding HVAC techs is extremely difficult after a flood. I called 7 and only two showed up so far.
The first guy said my system must be replaced with R410, which includes the outside condensers, and air handlers in the attic. He also wanted to build a staircase in the hallway because - "My guys need a staircase to get the air handlers up. Your house was built all wrong. You need a staircase."
I told him the access hole to the attic is 22x29 inches, which seems big enough to get an air handler in. After some back and forth, he finally relented and said he can get them through the hole.
Besides the condensers, and air handlers, he said he needs to put in new "pans" and few other items. Also, he told me going with R22 is not possible, because its not "up to code".
He demanded money for his estimate, so I wrote a check. He then insisted on cash, claiming my check might bounce, but "no offense". I said I don't carry that kind of cash on me and he stormed out angrily and never came back.
He said he can replace my condensers with new R22 units. Based on what Tech #1 said, I asked if it was legal and he said yes. He told me going to R410 is unnecessary and very expensive, and "I couldn't do that to you".
Besides the condensers, he said the wiring and panels need to be replaced.
Should I go for a complete upgrade to R410 or stay with R22?
My concern with R22 is that one, it might not be legal, and two, if it is legal, the gas will be extremely expensive in 5 years. Also, what if the new units don't like my air handlers or other components "up stream". Then I would have to get everything replaced anyway - and be stuck with a brand new outdated system.
Going into modern times with R410 would be nice, but I have to replace everything, which is very expensive. Would insurance cover both the air handlers and condensers? You cannot replace one without the other.
I feel like both options are not ideal. One is very expensive, the other may either be illegal, or end up costing more in five years.
Any advice/comments will be greatly appreciated.