Do you know what the refrigerant in your air conditioner does? You’ve likely heard of it, and you know it’s important, but just how important? Well, the cooling process wouldn’t be possible without it! It’s literally the substance that allows your air conditioner to do its job and cool down your home.
There’s a common myth about this chemical though. And that’s that it depletes, like gasoline does from a car. On the contrary. your air conditioner is supplied with enough refrigerant to last its entire lifespan upon manufacturing. So, if your system is losing refrigerant, it means there is a leak. Why is this such a big deal? Read on to find out!
Refrigerant Shouldn’t Need to Be Added to Your AC
Dishonest HVAC professionals will tell you that an air conditioner’s refrigerant has to be “topped off” every now and then, but this isn’t the case. As we mentioned above, refrigerant does not deplete, or get “used up” per se, while your air conditioning system is operating. An air conditioner is designed to use the same level of refrigerant–called its charge–throughout its entire service life.
Refrigerant isn’t a fuel source like gasoline, or like the electricity that your air conditioner does consume. It circulates through a closed loop, evaporating and then condensing, and never dissipating.
So why are people telling you this? Well, it could be that you have a leak that needs to be located and repaired. If the leak isn’t located, you’ll just continue to use your air conditioner and lose refrigerant. Your comfort and your AC efficiency will suffer, but it will seem to improve every time the refrigerant is recharged.
The lines that refrigerant moves through could degrade over time, especially in a system that’s 10-15 years old. The loss of refrigerant can lead to compressor problems due to the change in pressure.
You Want to Avoid Compressor Damage!
Why? Because the compressor is essentially the heart of your air conditioner, and is actually the most expensive component of your air conditioning system. When the compressor breaks down, your air conditioner is probably done for as well.
The only time this isn’t the case is if your air conditioner is still under manufacturer warranty, and you’ve had professional maintenance done every year. In this case, you would only have to pay for the labor to replace the compressor. Otherwise, it makes more financial sense to upgrade your air conditioner altogether at this point.
Avoiding Refrigerant Leaks
We wish we could say refrigerant leaks were always preventable. You’re definitely less likely to have one if you have professional maintenance done by a reputable team. But they can still occur!
So how do you know if you have a refrigerant leak? Here are some potential signs:
- Ice is starting to form on the evaporator coil.
- You hear a hissing or a bubbling noise coming from the indoor or outdoor cabinet of th eair conditioner.
- There are hot spots in rooms that used to be cool.
Please give us a call if you notice any of these symptoms, or anything else distressing going on with your air conditioner.