This is one of the most common questions that professional HVAC technicians get, and the short answer is, “Hopefully, never!” You may be scratching your head, but let us explain.
It’s a common misconception amongst homeowners that refrigerant is something that depletes over time, much like fuel in a gas-powered appliance. This, however, is not the case with refrigerant. This important fluid continuously cycles through your air conditioner or heat pump, effectively transferring heat to bring you a comfortable indoor climate.
More about Refrigerant
Upon installation, your HVAC unit is supplied with enough refrigerant to ideally last its entire lifecycle. There is a chance that at some point, you will need a refrigerant refill (referred to as a recharge). But if you do, it’s not a natural part of the cooling and heating process—it means you have a leak.
The source of the leak must be found and the refrigerant line repaired in order to restore system efficiency. Otherwise, your air conditioning system can begin to experience a number of problems, including:
A Decrease in Cooling Output
If a leak does develop in the refrigerant line, then your air conditioner’s output will drop along with the drop in refrigerant levels. Eventually, your refrigerant level will decrease to a point that it will cause your cooling system to break down completely.
If you notice a drop in cooling output, it’s important that you call for professional repairs right away. This problem may be caused by something else, such as an air handler issue—but either way, a decrease in cooling output warrants an examination.
Lukewarm Air Coming From the Vents
Instead of decreased airflow, you may feel warm air coming from your vents if you have a refrigerant leak. Having too little refrigerant in your air conditioner puts a large amount of stress on it. You could end up doing pretty serious and irreversible damage to the compressor if you’re running your AC with too low of a refrigerant charge.
Ice Forming on the Evaporator Coil
Through the refrigerant process, the fluid shifts from a gaseous to liquid form, and is placed under a great deal of pressure before it enters the evaporator coils. The valve releases a precise amount into the coils, where the refrigerant then shifts back to gaseous form. As this occurs, it pulls heat from the nearby air, cooling it in the process.
When you have a refrigerant leak, however, frost or ice will form on the outside of the evaporator coil. This ice serves as an insulating barrier between the refrigerant and the air that it’s meant to cool, meaning your cooling system will have to work even harder to do its job—until the problem gets so bad that the AC system can’t do its job at all.
If you believe that your refrigerant is leaking, then give the pros at Premier Indoor Comfort Systems LLC a call, so we can find the source and provide quality air conditioning repair in Marietta, GA so you can achieve comfort in your home once again!