One of the most commonly asked questions from homeowners is, “how often does my refrigerant need to be refilled?”
The answer might surprise you—hopefully, never!
Your air conditioner’s refrigerant should never need to be refilled—what we refer to as recharged in the HVAC industry. This is a common misconception though, that refrigerant is something that depletes over time, similar to gasoline from a car or oil from an appliance in your household.
How does refrigerant work, and what would cause a refrigerant loss? Read on!
Refrigerant is Recycled through Your System
It continuously cycles through your cooling system or heat pump system, transferring heat rather than generating it like other types of heating systems. In an ideal world, refrigerant should last your air conditioner’s entire lifecycle!
But there is always a chance that at some point, you may actually need a recharge. The reason for it, however, is not because it’s naturally running out, but rather because you have a leak (which needs to be professionally patched up!)
The source of the leak must be accurately located first, which is best done by a trained and experienced HVAC contractor in Bethel Park, PA. From there, it can be adequately repaired so the problem doesn’t continue to repeat itself. When a cooling system leaks refrigerant, it can lead to a number of problems, such as:
A Loss of Cooling
When leaks occur in your refrigerant line, your air conditioner’s output will drop along with it. Eventually, the refrigerant level in your AC will drop to the point that it causes your cooling system to break down entirely.
If you notice less cooling coming from your system, or even less airflow, it could very well be due to a refrigerant leak, but you should call a professional to determine this for sure. We could be looking at an air handler issue instead of refrigerant problem, but the only way to know for sure is with a comprehensive inspection.
The bottom line is, if you have a severe refrigerant leak you’ll absolutely notice the loss of cooling power, and also there will be a large amount of stress placed on your entire air conditioner, which could end up doing serious and irreversible damage to the compressor.
Ice on the Evaporator Coil
As normal as it might seem to have ice on a system that produces cold air, this really isn’t normal. So, how does it happen?
During the refrigerant process to cool your home, refrigerant flued shifts from a gaseous to a liquid form, where it’s placed under intense pressure before it enters the evaporator coils. There is a valve within the system the releases an exact amount of refrigerant to the coils, where the refrigerant then shift back to a gaseous form. As this occurs, it pulls heat from the nearby air, cooling it in the process.
When refrigerant is leaving your system from a leak, however, ice or frost will form on the outside of the evaporator coil. This ice serves as an insulating barrier between the refrigerant and the air that it is meant to cool, meaning your cooling system has to work even harder to perform—until the problem gets so bad that your AC can’t do its job at all.
If you notice the air in your home isn’t as cool as you think it should be, or spot ice anywhere on your system, please give our pros a call right away so we can take a look, assess the problem, and make the right repairs.
Call the friendly staff at Boehmer Heating & Cooling for exceptional customer service!