Is Your AC Low On Refrigerant?
March 08, 2023
Nothing is worse than your air conditioner going out in the middle of a heatwave. Not only is it a major inconvenience, but it can also be a health hazard, especially for elderly people or those with respiratory problems. So, what do you do when your AC quits working?
The first thing you should do is check the thermostat to make sure it is set properly.
If so, the next step is to see if the unit is low on refrigerant. A drop in refrigerant can cause your AC unit to run less efficiently, increasing your utility bills. In addition, a drop in refrigerant can cause your AC to freeze over and need repairs. A technician must recharge a unit low on refrigerant. Putting off this repair can cause further damage to your unit and cost you more money in the long run.
In this blog, we’ll cover:
- How AC refrigerant works
- Common signs of a refrigerant leak
- What to do if you have a refrigerant leak
Want an efficient AC repair to check its refrigerant?
Contact a Red Cap Plumbing & Air HVAC technician to check and recharge your air conditioner.
We also provide AC system checks with 1-year No Breakdown Guarantees, including refrigerant inspections.
Call us at (813) 963-3056 (Tampa) or (727) 474-8287 (Pinellas) or schedule service online today for a hassle-free repair.
How AC Refrigerant Works
Air conditioners take the heat from your indoor air and dump it outside. The refrigerant in the indoor AC unit is a chemical agent that absorbs heat from the air, and it’s housed in an evaporator coil. So, when warm air blows over the evaporator coil, the refrigerant removes heat.
After it dumps heat out of your home via refrigerant lines and the outdoor AC unit, the air in your home is now cool and comfortable during the hot summer months.
However, if the refrigerant in your AC unit is low, it will not be able to remove enough heat from the air properly, and your home will not cool as efficiently.
Your AC unit’s refrigerant runs in a closed-loop system that never needs refilling. The closed-loop system has four parts: the compressor, the condenser coils, the expansion valve, and the evaporator coils. All of these parts are sealed shut.
The refrigerant goes from a hermetically-sealed compressor to the condenser coils. The condenser coils release the heat absorbed by the refrigerant back into the air outside. Then, the refrigerant moves to the expansion valve and reaches the evaporator coils via refrigerant lines.
Why Being Low On Refrigerant Indicates a Leak
As your AC unit runs, the refrigerant level should stay the same. If it drops, that means there is a leak in one of the four parts of the closed-loop system.
A drop in refrigerant can cause your AC unit to run less efficiently, which means it will have to work harder to cool your home, costing you more utility bills. In addition, a drop in refrigerant can cause your AC unit to freeze over, leading to major repairs.
Common Signs of a Refrigerant Leak
Now that you know how important it is to keep your AC unit's refrigerant level up, you may wonder how you can tell if there is a leak.
The experts at Red Cap Plumbing & Air have put together a few signs you can look for that indicate your AC is low on refrigerant:
- The AC unit is not blowing cold air
- The AC unit is constantly running but not cooling the house
- The AC unit is making strange noises
- The AC unit has ice buildup on it
Warm Air Coming Out of Vents
If the air from your vents is warm, the refrigerant in your AC unit is not evaporating properly. This is usually a result of a leak in the evaporator coils. You can check for this by feeling the vents. If they are cold to the touch, they are working properly. If they are warm, that means there is a problem.
AC Runs All Day Long
Your AC unit should cycle on and off throughout the day to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home. If you notice that your AC unit is constantly running, it could be a sign that it is low on refrigerant. This happens because the AC unit cannot properly remove the heat from the air, so it has to run longer to achieve the desired temperature.
Your Energy Bills are Skyrocketing
If you notice a sudden increase in your energy bills, it could be due to a refrigerant leak. As we mentioned before, a drop in refrigerant can cause your AC unit to run less efficiently, which means it will use more energy to cool your home. Other causes might include an old or inefficient AC unit, but a refrigerant leak is the most likely culprit.
Your AC is Frozen
When your AC unit is frozen or has icy buildup, it is a sign that the refrigerant level is low. This happens because the refrigerant cannot evaporate properly, so it condenses on the evaporator coils and forms ice.
If you see ice on your AC, turn off the unit and call a professional to check for a leak.
Loud Hissing Noises Coming From Your AC
If you hear hissing or bubbling sounds from your AC unit, it could signal a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant escaping from a hole or crack in the AC unit usually causes these sounds.
To confirm this problem, turn off your AC unit and listen to the noise again. If you still hear it, you most likely have a refrigerant leak.
What To Do if You Have a Refrigerant Leak
If you have a refrigerant leak, you should turn off your AC unit first. Then, call a professional to come and check for leaks. Once the leak has been repaired, the technician will add more refrigerant to your AC unit.
It's important to note that you should never try to repair a refrigerant leak yourself. This is because refrigerant can be dangerous if it's not handled properly. Only a trained professional should repair a refrigerant leak.
Contact Red Cap Plumbing & Air To Refill Your Refrigerant Levels
Think you have a refrigerant leak? Turn off your AC unit and call a Red Cap professional to come and check for leaks. We offer honest prices and convenient scheduling options for repairs.
Call us at (813) 963-3056 (Tampa) or (727) 474-8287 (Pinellas) or schedule service online today.
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