Do you know how air conditioning refrigerant works? You probably know that it helps the cooling process, but what you might not know is that it is 100% responsible for the cooling process. The air that comes through your room vents and brings the temperature down cannot happen without refrigerant.
Unfortunately, though, there’s a pretty common misconception about refrigerant that leads homeowners to use their air conditioners pretty inefficiently, leading to potential emergency repair needs and maybe even premature replacement. What is that misconception? Long story short, people believe that refrigerant is a fuel, and that it depletes like gasoline does from a car.
Read on as we uncover why this is a dangerous assumption, and what you should know about refrigerant leaks.
You Shouldn’t Need to Add Refrigerant
At some point of your homeownership, you may have had a dishonest professional tell you that an air conditioner’s refrigerant needs to be topped off on a routine basis. This just isn’t the case, unfortunately… and not only does it cost you more money over the lifespan of your air conditioner, it actually reduces the lifespan of your air conditioner.
Look, refrigerant does not deplete or get “used up” when an AC is running, like gasoline does from a vehicle. Your air conditioner is designed to use the same amount of refrigerant–called its charge–throughout its entire service life. The refrigerant circulates in a closed loop, evaporating and then condensing, never dissipating.
The idea that you would need to put more refrigerant in the air conditioner, like you’d have to put more gas in a car, is just right. This is akin to thinking you need to put air in your car tires every time you go for a long drive. It’s just not the case! First off, if someone were to add more refrigerant to a system that already had enough, it could create pressure in the system that could lead to a breakdown. Secondly, if your air conditioner is losing refrigerant, it actually means you have a problem that needs to be repaired so the leak stops.
Do You Have a Refrigerant Leak?
So if you’re actually losing refrigerant from your air conditioner, it means that there is a leak. This can happen due to natural wear and tear, and is more common in air conditioners reaching the 10-15 year lifespan than it is in newer systems (though it’s not totally unheard of in newer systems). How do you know if you have a leak though?
- You see ice developing anywhere on the system–this is never normal.
- Your air conditioner has lost cooling power.
- There are hot spots in rooms that used to get cooled just fine.
- You can hear a hissing or bubbling noise coming from the indoor or outdoor unit of your air conditioner.
If you notice any of these signs, the best thing you can do for the air conditioner and for your family’s comfort is to give our team a call right away.