Contrary to popular belief, HVAC systems do not use up refrigerant (a common brand of refrigerant is Freon). Your HVAC system is designed to run with a specific amount of this refrigerant. Freon is a liquid agent that cools and dehumidifies indoor air and isn’t ever “used up” like a car uses gas or oil. It just circulates around your a/c system to cool your air; no refrigerant is lost in the process.
Some homeowners believe their a/c unit needs to be recharged with refrigerant, but that is not generally recommended, as there may actually be a leak in the unit causing the air conditioning problems. If the leak isn’t repaired, the unit will continue to leak refrigerant, even if it’s recharged. If refrigerant is low, that means it has a leak. Low refrigerant charges can damage your compressor and your coils because if they freeze up, the ice can cause cracks to form in the coils, which causes more leaks.
A properly charged HVAC system will work better and cost less to operate, which is why annual a/c maintenance is recommended. If your HVAC system is not keeping your house as cool as you want it, here are signs to look for that will tell you that your a/c unit may be running low on refrigerant due to a leak:
- Supply ducts/registers are blowing hot air even when your a/c is running and your thermostat is set to “cool”
- Water has accumulated on the floor by your furnace due to condensation
- Ice has built up on copper lines from a/c to indoor coil
- High electric bills (because your air conditioner has to run longer to cool your home)
- House takes longer than normal to cool off
Annual a/c maintenance will discover things like leaks and low refrigerant levels, and you should never attempt to recharge the refrigerant yourself, no matter how handy you are around your home. You need to have an EPA license to buy R-22, the most common refrigerant, and you need the proper tools (gauges, scales, etc.), which can be expensive. R-22 is now being done away with, which is making it more expensive; R410A is in all systems in the last five years. Because of this, older systems that take R-22 are often less expensive to replace than to repair.
There are also strict EPA regulations against doing it yourself. Just call John’s if you are experiencing any of these low refrigerant signs and we will inspect the entire HVAC system and offer solutions to keep your family cool.