How often do you think about the various components that make it possible for your air conditioner to function? If you’re like most homeowners, the answer is probably “not very often.” We understand. However, there is one component in particular that you really should care about—enough to know why it’s so important and what would happen if your air conditioner didn’t have it—and that’s refrigerant. Read on to learn more!
What Is Refrigerant?
Refrigerant is the chemical substance that literally makes the cooling process possible in your air conditioner. When your air conditioner is first manufactured, it is supplied with enough refrigerant to ideally last its entire lifespan, since it is not a fuel that “runs out” like gasoline does in a car. We mention this because one of the most common questions we get is, “How often do I need my refrigerant refilled?”
Recharging (refilling) your air conditioner’s refrigerant is a service you should only need if you have a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant leaks happen for a variety of reasons and can cause a number of related problems. But how do you know if you have a refrigerant leak? Are there signs you can watch out for? Well yes, there are! They include:
Lack of Cooling
Have you noticed that you’re just not as cool as you should be? Perhaps you’ve found yourself running your air conditioner longer and at a lower temperature setting to try to compensate. If this is the case, it’s an indication that something is wrong with your air conditioner’s performance, and it could very well be a refrigerant leak to blame. What happens is that when you have a leak, there isn’t enough refrigerant flowing through the evaporative coil to draw the hot air out from inside your home. So while you still receive chilled air, it’s just recirculating with the existing warm air, and therefore you aren’t feeling the cooling power you usually do.
Higher Energy Bills
High utility bills happen when your air conditioner isn’t working as efficiently as it should, which absolutely can happen when you have a refrigerant leak. This is because although an air conditioner can still operate while it’s low on refrigerant, it won’t do so efficiently. Like we mentioned above, problems like a lack of cooling power will cause you to try to adjust the thermostat, which will only make your system run longer.
Sure, there are steps you can take to help your air conditioner work more efficiently, but if it’s losing refrigerant, you’re going to need to address this soon.
Shortened System Lifespan
When an air conditioner doesn’t have enough refrigerant, it affects other components within the system. The compressor is the main component you need to worry about. It’s essentially the heart of your air conditioner. When it fails, especially if this is a system that’s already aging (nearing a decade old, or older) then it usually means you have to replace the system altogether. But by having the refrigerant professionally recharged and the leak area repaired, you can help reduce system wear and tear and help the system last longer.