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Schaal Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Blog

AC FAQ: How Do I Add Refrigerant?

ac-toolsThe short answer is that you don’t. Your air conditioner needs refrigerant if it is going to do its one and only job—cooling your home. That is due to the fact that refrigerant is the heat transfer fluid in your central air conditioning system. Remember that your air conditioner is not creating new, cool air when it cools your home. Instead, it is siphoning heat out of the air, resulting in a cooler feeling, and redistributing that cooled air throughout your home.

As you can imagine, that heat has to go somewhere. It cannot just sit in the refrigerant that has absorbed it via the evaporation process, because then the refrigerant would be too hot to draw more heat out of the air.  That is why the refrigerant goes out to the condenser coil outside. There, it releases its heat as it is compressed, before starting the cycle all over again in order to maintain comfortable temperatures. So when is refrigerant consumed?

The Short Answer Is That It’s Not!

The refrigerant in your air conditioning system operates in a closed loop, and it is never consumed by your air conditioner the way that fuel is consumed by, say, a gas furnace in order to adjust temperatures throughout the house. It is just recycled over and over and over again. If your refrigerant charge is low, there are a few potential causes of the problem.

  • Insufficient charging at the factory (highly unlikely).
  • Insufficient charging of a dry charge unit at the time of installation (more likely, [but not when you work with us!]).
  • A leak has developed somewhere along the refrigerant’s lines or in the coils (unfortunately, quite likely).

What Do I Do About It?

When you begin to notice signs of trouble that could be related to a low refrigerant charge, such as ice on the coil or lines, water surrounding the unit as that ice melts, short cycling, reduced efficiency, lower cooling output, or a hissing sound near the system, you need to take action right away. No, we don’t mean streaming a few how-to videos online. We mean dialing our number in order to schedule service with our Ankeny, IA air conditioning repair pros!

The fact is that refrigerant is strictly regulated, due to the potential for environmental and safety issues that may stem from its mishandling. Not only are trained professionals the only ones that can accurately diagnose the source of your refrigerant leak, but they are the only ones that can procure and work with refrigerant in the first place.

And we cannot stress enough how important it is that you have any refrigerant leaks in your system dealt with immediately so that your system can be effectively recharged. If you ignore the signs that you have a refrigerant leak, it’s not just your comfort and your budget that will suffer. You could well find yourself in need of an AC replacement before too long.

Schedule your air conditioning services with Schaal Plumbing, Heating and Cooling.

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