While you may be used to refilling other fuel sources, chances are you haven’t refueled your air conditioner’s refrigerant recently. This is because AC refrigerant functions on a closed-loop system. This means you will only need to refill, or rather, “recharge” it for a few specific reasons.
Reasons to Refill Your Refrigerant
The first reason that you may need to refill your refrigerant is that you are replacing your entire air conditioning system, including the refrigerant that goes with it. The next reason is that you are converting your air conditioner to a non-Freon-based system, because of the current Freon phaseout initiated by the EPA. The final, and most common reason to recharge your refrigerant is because a leak has occurred.
5 Common Signs of a Refrigerant Leak Are:
- Poor Airflow: Is your air conditioner having trouble providing enough air recently, or only blowing hot air? If so, it could be because of a refrigerant leak. First, check to see that your system is on cooling and not heating mode. Second, see if it is set to “fan.” In this setting, your system will continue to blow air even when your air conditioner is not running. Finally, check to see if your air filter or vents are clogged. You should already be replacing your air filter several times a year to prevent dust buildup, thereby improving indoor air quality and overall system performance. If you’ve checked for all these issues and still cannot find the culprit, call a technician to see if a refrigerant leak is to blame.
- Strange Sounds: Is your air conditioner releasing a hissing or gurgling sound? While these noises do not necessarily denote a refrigerant leak, call a technician to be sure, as it is possible that hissing is from a torn refrigerant line. If the hissing has progressed to a gurgling, it means the leak has only gotten worse, so call a professional HVAC tech ASAP.
- Pooling Water Around Your System: When your air conditioner is running properly, warm air runs over the coils, and is cooled and distrusted around your home. But when refrigerant starts to leak, the coils may freeze, resulting in condensation on the unit or pooling water on the ground. Again, it is extremely important to call a technician as soon as you notice this issue, as frozen coils may force you to replace your entire air handler.
- Rising Humidity: In addition to cooling your air, your AC system has the important job of lowing your humidity levels. But when refrigerant starts to leak out of the system it will no longer be able to dehumidify your air properly. There are of course other factors that affect humidity too, such as what climate you live in and the greater amount of moisture in your house. However, if it feels like you are losing cool air and your humidity levels are rising at the same time, a refrigerant leak could be to blame.
- Increased Cooling Costs: While your ZC costs are likely to go up a bit in the summer, during peak air conditioning season, a sudden spike in cooling costs is not normal. If you have seen your utility bills rise without changing your air conditioning habits, call a technician right away to see if a refrigerant leak or another AC issue could be the cause.
Call Bay Heating & Air Conditioning for Refrigerant Leaks & More
It is important to remember that refrigerant is a dangerous chemical compound, which should never be replaced without the assistance of an experienced professional. Fortunately, at Bay Heating & Air Conditioning, our skilled HVAC technicians are here for all the AC services you need. Give us a call today to request an estimate, and do not forget to ask about available financing options and specials!