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How Often Should My Refrigerant Be Refilled?

An ac repair technician adding refrigerant to an air conditioner

How Often Should You Recharge Your AC Refrigerant?

Homeowners often wonder how often they should recharge their home AC refrigerant. The misconception is that refrigerant depletes over time, like fuel in a gas-powered appliance. However, this is not the case with refrigerant--it continuously cycles through your air conditioner or heat pump to effectively transfer heat and create a comfortable indoor climate.

Here's what you need to know about refilling your AC's refrigerant.

What Is Refrigerant?

Refrigerant is a chemical that helps your air conditioner cool down your house. It is put under pressure and sent to the outside of your house. This is done by cycling heat from inside your house to the outside. Normally, you should not have to worry about refrigerant running out in your AC unit.

Types of AC Refrigerant

Depending on the model of your air conditioner, the refrigerant is either R-22 (Freon) or the more environmentally friendly R-410A. As of January 2020, the United States has banned the production and importation of R-22, which means it will get increasingly hard and expensive to get as supply runs low.

When You Need AC Refrigerant Refilled

The AC unit you have in your home was installed with enough refrigerant to last its lifetime. If you ever need a refill, it means that you have a leak in the system.

The AC refrigerant operates in a closed system. This means that the refrigerant is always going between the evaporator coils and the condenser coils. The refrigerant takes in heat when it evaporates, which makes the air passing over the coils cooler. That air is then sent back into the room. When the refrigerant reaches the condenser coils, it is compressed and gives off heat. That heat goes outside, and then the refrigerant goes back to the evaporator coils to start again.

So the refrigerant should never leave the system or deplete unless there is a leak.

If You Have an AC Refrigerant Leak

Once you have determined that your air conditioner does, in fact, have a refrigerant leak, you will need to decide whether to repair or replace your unit. This decision should be based on a number of factors, such as:

  • The severity of the leak
  • The age and condition of your unit
  • The cost of repair vs. replacement

If you have a minor refrigerant leak, it may be possible to simply top off your unit's refrigerant levels and continue using it as normal. However, if the leak is severe, you're using R-22, or if your air conditioner is old and in poor condition, it may be more cost-effective to replace the unit altogether.

Causes of a Refrigerant Leak

One of the most common causes of an AC refrigerant leak is a hole or crack in the cooling coils. These coils are responsible for transferring heat from the air inside your home to the refrigerant. Over time, the coils can become damaged and allow the refrigerant to escape. Additionally, the seals around the coils can also wear down and cause leaks.

Another common cause of an AC refrigerant leak is a problem with the compressor. The compressor is responsible for circulating the refrigerant through the system. If it isn't working properly, it can cause the refrigerant to leak out. Additionally, the compressor can develop leaks as it ages.

Signs Your Refrigerant is Leaking

An AC refrigerant leak is usually characterized by a noise that the unit makes when it's not up to full charge. This can be due to air bubbles in the refrigerant line, which will make a "hissing" or "bubbling" sound. Another symptom of a refrigerant leak is a sudden drop in cooling capacity or the AC unit taking longer to cool down the space it's supposed to be cooling. If you notice either of these signs, it's important to call a professional AC repair technician to come and take a look at your unit.

Here to Solve Your Comfort Issues

Here at Premier Indoor Comfort Systems, LLC, we specialize in AC repair and can help you get your system up and running again. We understand that an AC unit is a necessity during the hot summer months, so we'll work quickly to get your unit repaired or replaced. Contact us today at (770) 749-7667 to schedule your service.

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