Like your other home systems, you probably don’t think about your air conditioner—that is, until it stops working. Luckily, there’s one thing you can do to help your air conditioner run longer: pay attention to the refrigerant charge. But what is refrigerant and how does it work in your air conditioner? Let’s explore this fluid more in depth below.
What is Refrigerant?
There’s no question that summers in the southern states are more than hot–they can be brutal. Most homeowners living in these states can agree on one thing: air conditioning is not just a luxury; it’s a necessity.
How does a home air conditioner work?
Your home air conditioner works much the same as your refrigerator – they both use a chemical refrigerant to move heat. The main difference is that one works inside a relatively small, contained box, while the other circulates air throughout your home.
Air conditioners have four main parts:
- Metering device
The refrigerant is a chemical mixture which circulates through the air conditioner system and moves heat. In simplest terms, the refrigerant runs through coils, compressor and lines in the air conditioning system. The refrigerant is compressed from a low-pressure, low-temperature gas to a high-pressure, high-temperature gas. The high-pressure gas is condensed to a high-pressure liquid refrigerant in the condensing coil. The high-pressure liquid is converted by the metering device to a low-pressure liquid/gas combination, causing the mixture to boil at a low temperature in the evaporator coil. The fluid then returns to the compressor to start the cycle again. The “conditioned” air is circulated over this coil to remove the heat, which is then circulated throughout the home.
Signs your air conditioner running low on refrigerant
Most of the time, your air conditioner runs like clockwork, keeping your home at a nice, comfortable temperature. But over time, you could develop a leak in your system, causing the refrigerant to run low.
So how do you know when your system needs more refrigerant? Here are some signs:
- Your air conditioner is blowing hot air
- You see ice on your air conditioning unit outside
- You hear a hissing or bubbling noise coming from the air conditioner
- Your house takes longer than normal to cool off
- You find water on the floor near the furnace
- You notice higher than normal electric usage on your bill
There could be other causes of these symptoms, but the first thing you will wnt to do is to have your HVAC system’s refrigerant level checked.
Can I handle a refrigerant problem?
A refrigerant is considered a hazardous material, so only trained, licensed professionals can handle this dangerous substance. If you think you have a refrigerant leak or are experiencing any of the symptoms of a leak, call your air conditioning professionals at ABC Home & Commercial Services to come take a look at your system and diagnose the problem quickly. Running your air conditioner while it’s low on refrigerant increases the cost of running your system and will cause bigger problems if left untreated; getting it taken care of quickly can mean the difference between a quick repair and a big replacement.
Usually, if the leak is caught early, the technician will need to repair the leak and charge your system; this one step can cut the risk of larger problems down the line. The technician will need to clean the filters, blowers and coils; because air flow over the coils needs to be cooled, cleaning those areas is necessary to make sure the airflow is not restricted. Next, the technician will make sure the airflow is at the correct level and make other adjustments to ensure the system is otherwise working as it should.
ABC Can Help You Keep Your Cool When Your AC Has Problems
The charging of the refrigerant system requires time and skill, so it’s not something you can easily do yourself. To get the best out of your air conditioning unit, trust the professionals at ABC Home & Commercial Services. When you notice something isn’t right with your air conditioning system, make sure it gets taken care of right away. Scheduling an annual maintenance check-up can help keep your home and family cool for years to come and save you money in the long run by avoiding unexpected and costly repairs.