The secret elixir that allows for the miracle of modern air conditioning is refrigerant. You sometimes hear it referred to as “Freon,” although that word can describe a variety of different types of refrigerant. Whatever its composition, refrigerant handles a vital task in air conditioner operation: it absorbs and releases heat through the process of phase-shifting between liquid and gas.
The chemicals used in refrigerant (referred to as “blends”) are designed to make these phase shifts with the least amount of energy input possible, and since the invention of the first electro-mechanical AC, many different chemicals have taken on the job, becoming safer and more efficient over time.
There are too many refrigerant blends to list here, but we’ve assembled the most common from the past and present. If your AC begins to lose refrigerant, call for professional air conditioning repair in Atlanta, GA from Premier Indoor Comfort Systems. We’ll solve the problem with the correct refrigerant blend and make sure you have your proper cooling once more.
- Sulfur dioxide, methyl chloride, ammonia: These chemicals flowed through the earliest air conditioners and performed the necessary job. Unfortunately, they also posed numerous safety hazards from flammability, toxicity, and acidity. These potential dangers made early air conditioners unsuited for residential use. When safer options emerged, all these chemicals were discontinued in ACs.
- Freon: The word “Freon,” which is a trademark of DuPont, generally refers to any of the non-toxic and non-combustible chemical blends that replaced the early dangerous chemicals. The original Freon blends were chlorofluorocarbons such as R-12. The “R” found in many refrigerant blend names comes from DuPont’s method of identifying “refrigerant class numbers” base on molecular composition.
- R-22: This hydrochlorofluorocarbon was the dominant blend found in residential air conditioners for many years. If your current AC is more than 10 years old, it may have R-22 as its refrigerant. Because of R-22’s ozone-depletion properties, it began to fall out of use in the 1990s around the globe. The U.S. EPA announced a national phase-out program starting in 2004, with a target date of 2020 for a complete elimination of R-22 in air conditioners.
- R-410A: Sometimes called “Puron,” this blend combines two other blends, difluoromethane, and pentafluoroethane, and contains no chlorofluorocarbons to endanger the ozone layer. R-410A is the principle blend replacing R-22 during the phaseout, and most new residential air conditioners manufactured today have R-410A inside them. If you check the cabinet of your AC, you’ll probably find that you also have R-410A working to keep you cool.
Refrigerant Leaks and Professional Repairs
For the most part, you won’t need to concern yourself with the refrigerant blend inside your air conditioner; it’s non-toxic and poses no health threat to you. But if you notice a drop in cooling power, hear a hissing noise from the AC cabinet, or notice frost on the indoor coils, call for repairs right away: you may have leaking refrigerant, and that is a major concern. It will not only restrict the system’s cooling power, but it could also lead to irrevocable damage to the compressor.
Call Premier Indoor Comfort Systems at the first indication you need air conditioning repair in Atlanta, GA. We can handle your refrigerant leak with the right replacement blend.