You’ve probably heard lots of tips and tricks throughout the years about how to boost air conditioner efficiency and performance. Some tips are very worth listening to, such as investing in routine professional maintenance and changing your air filter every few months. But other advice is, well, not the greatest to take in.
For example, have you ever had a handyman tell you that your cooling system’s refrigerant has to be refilled (what we in the industry call recharged) on a routine basis? There are one of two reasons they would be telling you this. They either actually believe this is true, which means they are inexperienced and untrained, or they’re trying to get money from you that you shouldn’t be paying. It’s a very common AC myth that refrigerant is something that needs to be refilled—read on to learn why this is not the case!
The Point of Refrigerant
Refrigerant is essentially the most important component of your air conditioner, actually making the cooling process possible. It’s a chemical blend that flows through the system, whether it’s a traditional central air conditioner, a heat pump, or a ductless system.
There are quite a few folks out there who think that refrigerant is a fuel—like gasoline in in a car—and that it actually depletes from the system. But refrigerant is actually a recycled fluid in the air conditioner that makes heat transfer possible through a process of changing from liquid to gas and back. Without refrigerant, your air conditioner simply can’t function.
The Problem with This AC Myth
Your cooling system has enough refrigerant in it when it’s manufactured to ideally last the system’s whole lifespan. Unless this refrigerant isn’t charged the way it was supposed to be at the start, you should never have to recharge it—that is, unless there is a leak.
Refrigerant Leaks: What You Should Know
Refrigerant leaks can happen anywhere along the refrigerant lines, as well as within the evaporator coil or condenser coil. Refrigerant leaks start small—as pinhole leaks—and can be nearly undetectable to the untrained eye. It’s actually something we advise homeowners to listen for, versus watching for it. Leaking refrigerant typically makes a hissing noise or bubbling sound, depending on if it’s in gas or liquid form at the time.
When refrigerant leaks go on for too long, they result in a loss of cooling power, as well as:
- A Frozen Evaporator Coil: Ironically, if an evaporator coil freezes over it’s unable to absorb heat like it’s meant to, and therefore you won’t feel cool air coming through the vents.
- Compressor Failure: The compressor of your air conditioner is essentially the heart of the entire system, and needs a set amount of refrigerant to even function.
If you suspect a refrigerant leak or have been told your refrigerant needs to be recharged, please give our pros a call so we can adequately located the precise source of the problem and remedy it the right way!