If you’re like many homeowners, you might not actually understand how exactly the refrigerant in your air conditioner works. Perhaps you’ve heard of it, and know that it is important, but aren’t quite sure what it actually does.
Refrigerant is what makes the cooling process even possible in your air conditioner. It is literally the chemical substance that enables your air conditioner to do its job in cooling down your home.
There’s a common misconception about this substance, however, that too many people believe–that refrigerant is a fuel that depletes from your system like gasoline does from a vehicle. But this isn’t true at all. Actually, your cooling system is supplied with enough refrigerant upon manufacturing to ideally last its entire lifespan! Therefore, if your system is losing refrigerant, it means there is a leak that has to be repaired.
Read on to learn more, including why this misconception is harmful to believe.
Refrigerant Shouldn’t Need to be Added to Your Air Conditioner
Inexperienced, or unfortunately even dishonest, HVAC professionals may tell you that an air conditioner’s refrigerant needs to be “topped off” every once in a while, but this just isn’t the case. As we mentioned above, refrigerant doesn’t deplete like gasoline does from a car–it does not get “used up” while your air conditioner is running.
Your AC system is designed to use the same level of refrigerant, called its charge, throughout its entire 10-15 year useful service life.
So, what gives?
When your system is losing refrigerant, it means you have a leak. We mentioned this above too. The leak needs to be located and repaired so no more refrigerant leaves the system. If it’s not, then even if you have the system refilled (recharged) on a routine basis, you’re going to keep having the same problem.
What’s the problem?
Well when your system has chronic refrigerant leaks, it means you won’t be able to stay cool enough, your system will accumulate wear and tear faster, and your compressor might even overheat and shut down as it doesn’t have enough refrigerant going through it.
All this said, the lines that the refrigerant travels through can degrade over the years, and a refrigerant leak is a relatively common repair need in older systems.
Avoiding Compressor Damage
Refrigerant loss can damage your compressor, and that compressor is essentially the heart of your entire air conditioner. If it breaks down, your air conditioner could very well be done for. If there is any reason to have a refrigerant leak fixed ASAP, it’s to avoid compressor damage.
Signs That You Have a Refrigerant Leak
Okay, now that we’ve covered all that… how do you know if you actually have a refrigerant leak? Well, there are a few things you can watch out for. First off, if your air conditioner is struggling to keep you cool when it hasn’t before, that’s a sign of a refrigerant leak. You may also hear a hissing or bubbling noise, which can be refrigerant escaping the system as it runs.
Whether you suspect this problem in your home or know you have a refrigerant leak, we’re the team to call for help!