Refrigerant is the lifeblood of any heat pump system. A heat pump moves heat from one place to another by evaporating and condensing refrigerant to capture and release heat in different areas, depending on the mode it’s using. Without sufficient refrigerant, a heat pump would lose the ability to actually operate as a heating or cooling system. Refrigerant is not consumed during normal heat pump operation, which means if your heat pump is low on refrigerant it was either not charged properly on installation or it has a leak in the system. How can you tell if your heat pump is low on refrigerant? Read on to find out.
Heat pumps are capable of both heating and cooling functions, which they accomplish by simply reversing the flow of refrigerant through the system. Therefore, if your heat pump begins to experience a drop in heating or cooling output, you may have a problem with your refrigerant level. This is often the first sign of a refrigerant leak, so be sure not to ignore it if it happens.
You should always pay attention to any unusual noises that your heat pump is making, but gurgling sounds in particular are an indication that you have a refrigerant leak. As the refrigerant leaks out of the system, more and more air gets into the line. The air bubbles in the refrigerant line are what make the gurgling sounds, like the last few drops of a drink traveling through a straw. This is an almost certain indication that not only do you have a refrigerant leak, but that it has progressed pretty far already.
You should conduct a visual inspection on your heat pump every once in a while, paying special attention to the area around the unit. If you notice any liquid dripping or pooling around the heat pump, you may well have a refrigerant leak.