This is a question homeowners often ask about their air conditioning systems. The simple answer is no. As we’ll explain, refrigerant in an AC should not require refills under normal conditions. In fact, adding refrigerant to an air conditioner can do catastrophic damage to it.
However, there are repair situations where an AC will need refrigerant added to it to restore a lost amount. We’ll help you know when you’ve got this situation on your hands so you can call us to service your air conditioning in Parker, CO.
An AC Doesn’t Use Up Refrigerant
This is the first basic fact to know about refrigerant in an air conditioner. As an AC runs, its refrigerant will not dissipate or get used up like a fuel source. People often mistake refrigerant as an energy source for the air conditioner. But an AC runs off electricity—that’s what it consumes to power its components. Refrigerant does a different job: it allows the air conditioner to carry out heat exchange, which is the movement of heat from one place to another.
In an AC, the refrigerant evaporates in the indoor coil to absorb heat and cool down the air, and then the refrigerant condenses in the outdoor coil to release that heat. The refrigerant doesn’t dissipate as it changes between gas and liquid form during heat exchange—the same amount put into the AC when it was installed will remain for the unit’s service life.
The AC’s Refrigerant Charge
A second vital fact to know about refrigerant is that it needs to be at a specific charge (amount) for an air conditioner. An air conditioner is built to hold a certain charge to allow it to maintain refrigerant pressure and provide the amount of cooling a building needs. If an AC is undercharged or overcharged, it will harm the system’s performance, efficiency, and eventually lead to the compressor burning out and the whole system failing. This is why adding refrigerant to a working AC is a huge problem, and why any loss of refrigerant will also create trouble.
This is the situation where you’ll need refrigerant added to an air conditioner as a professional repair. Leaks can occur along the copper refrigerant lines or at connection points. AC’s are vulnerable to this occurring after five years because of chemical reactions in the air weaken copper and create pinhole leaks.
Fortunately, if you know the signs, you can detect possible refrigerant leaks so you can call us for repairs. Here are signs of an AC that’s lost refrigerant:
- Indoor humidity has suddenly risen
- Electric bills have spiked
- You hear a hissing or bubbling sound from the AC
- Ice has started to form over the evaporator coil
- The AC trips its circuit breaker often
- The AC is short-cycling (turning on and off rapidly)
Each of these symptoms can also point toward other problems, so even if you don’t have refrigerant leaks, you’ll still want professionals to investigate what’s occurring.
If our technicians find your AC has lost its charge, we’ll locate the leaks, seal them, and then recharge the refrigerant to its factory level so the system will work its best again.
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