Have you ever hired a handyman or amateur HVAC technician to conduct maintenance on your air conditioner, only to have them tell you that your refrigerant has lost its charge and will need to be refilled every year? If so, unfortunately you’re dealing with either a dishonest or misinformed professional.
This is one of the biggest Fairfax, VA, air conditioning repair myths out there—that refrigerant is something that “runs out” and it must be replaced (recharged) every year during your maintenance session. On the contrary, your HVAC systems are supplied with enough refrigerant during installation to ideally last their entire lifespan. So what does this mean? This means that if your system is losing refrigerant, you have a leak—and that leak must be found and repaired.
More About What Refrigerant Does
In order to understand why this is an important myth to debunk and why refrigerant leaks are a big deal, you must first understand how refrigerant even functions within your air conditioning system. Your AC system doesn’t generate “coolness” the way that your heater generates heat (by combusting fuel or using electrical resistance). Rather, when you feel cool air coming through from your vents, you’re feeling the absence of heat. This means it’s the refrigerant cycle allowing for heat to be removed from the air.
The indoor unit of your air conditioner contains what’s called the evaporator coil. This is where refrigerant, fittingly enough, evaporates in your system. As this occurs, the refrigerant draws heat out of the air, and the air is cooled before being redistributed throughout your home, while the warmed refrigerant is sent to the outdoor unit.
In the outside condenser unit, the refrigerant is condensed, and as this happens the refrigerant releases heat, which is expelled outside with the aid of fans on the outdoor unit.
The Problem with Refrigerant Leaks
As you can likely imagine, a refrigerant leak will seriously impede the cooling capacity of your air conditioner. Cooling systems are designed to work with a specific refrigerant charge, and a low level of refrigerant always suggests a problem. It’s not consumed like a fuel, as we stated above, but is rather recycled throughout your system over and over in a closed loop.
So, if your system is low on refrigerant—again, as we stated above—it means you have a leak. Or it was improperly charged to begin with. At the end of the day though, too little refrigerant means too much strain on the system, seriously reducing energy efficiency and potentially causing your coil to ice up and cause even more problems.
Overall, if you have a refrigerant leak and it affects the cooling power of your system, your air conditioner will have to work harder to do its job. This means components will wear down much faster than they would have otherwise, and your system won’t last as long as it’s meant to. You can save yourself a lot of money and a big headache by contacting our repair technicians at the first sign or suspicion of a refrigerant leak.
For more great AC tips and quality HVAC services, contact AllTech Services, Inc. today!