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The Refrigerant Misconception that Could Hurt Your AC

tech-repairing-air-conditionerYou probably know that an air conditioner contains refrigerant. But do you know what happens to it inside the AC unit? It is a common misconception that the refrigerant in an air conditioner can be depleted or used up. However, this is not the case at all! Refrigerant is not a fuel source. The AC unit does not consume it in the process of running, and it was manufactured with enough refrigerant to last for the lifetime of the appliance.


Adding refrigerant is not part of regular air conditioner maintenance.

If you have heard of refrigerant needing to be refilled or “topped up,” you might think it is normal for an air conditioner to consume refrigerant and require refilling. But the refrigerant simply moves through a closed coil. When the refrigerant moves to the outdoor portion of the coil, heat is released via condensation. Then, as it continues circulating, it moves to the indoor portion of the coil. It is now cooler than the air, which causes evaporation, and provides cooling. The refrigerant simply continues along the loop, never being used up.

Why Is Your AC Low On Refrigerant?

The only reason that an air conditioner would require more refrigerant to be added is if some were lost due to a leak. Damage to the unit, or even degraded lines in the unit (which can happen as it ages, particularly if the air conditioner is over a decade old) can allow refrigerant to leak out. A reputable technician will never simply add refrigerant without addressing the cause of the leak.

Address Refrigerant Leaks Promptly

An insufficient amount of refrigerant will change the pressure in the unit. This puts strain on the compressor, which is the most important part of the air conditioner–and the most expensive to replace if it is damaged. In fact, it’s often more cost-efficient to replace the entire unit if the compressor fails. The exception would be a unit that is still under warranty and has had annual professional maintenance, in which case the manufacturer would replace the compressor.

Signs Your AC Unit Has a Refrigerant Leak

If you notice ice on the evaporator coil, if you hear an unusual sound coming from the unit such as a hiss or bubble, or if you previously experienced even cooling in your home and now have hot spots where the cool air doesn’t reach, you should consider the possibility that your refrigerant is leaking. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions if you’re concerned that you might need air conditioner repair in Boston. It’s far better to ask a professional now than to end up needing to replace your AC unit entirely. And if you haven’t noticed any of those problems yet, the best way to make sure they don’t occur is to schedule regular maintenance and keep your air conditioner in top condition. 

If you’re in need of repairs or AC service, don’t wait until it’s too late. Reach out to Cooling Unlimited, Inc. to handle your air conditioning needs this summer.

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