You likely already know that refrigerant is a very important component of your central air conditioner. In fact, it’s the component actually responsible for providing cooling to your home.
If you don’t know much more about it than that, it’s okay—that’s what we are here for! We’re here to ensure that you have expert AC services for whatever you need, whenever you need it.
What we’d like to do today is share some information about refrigerant because understanding refrigerant leaks can help you understand why calling our team for AC repairs right away is vital. Fixing refrigerant leaks is an easy job for our team, but the consequences of letting leaks go without repairs can be pretty bad.
Yes, Refrigerant Loss Is a Big Deal
Oftentimes, when we are asked if refrigerant loss is a big deal, we find that it’s because not many people understand what exactly refrigerant is. They think it’s a form of fuel, but the truth is that your air conditioner does not “use up” refrigerant in order to operate. Its source of energy is electricity. Your cooling system circulates the same level of refrigerant from the time it was installed until the day the system is replaced—unless you have a refrigerant leak.
You see, refrigerant carries out a heat exchange. The refrigerant shifts between a gaseous and liquid state in order to absorb heat from inside the home and then release it outdoors. It never dissipates during this process, and remains at the same amount—referred to as refrigerant charge.
The Danger of Losing Refrigerant
Because every air conditioner has a set charge of refrigerant, losing any of that refrigerant puts the performance of the system in jeopardy. Yes, your air conditioner will start losing its cooling capacity when the charge drops, but this actually isn’t the worst problem that can happen to the system.
Your entire air conditioner is designed for a specific charge and refrigerant pressure. If those levels change, the whole system is in jeopardy. One of the common problems that starts up because of leaking refrigerant is a frozen evaporator coil. What happens is that there is less cold refrigerant moving through the evaporator, and ironically it won’t be able to absorb as much heat from the air.
So, the remaining refrigerant won’t warm up as it should, and will instead stay below-freezing. This will cause moisture along the coil to freeze—which further blocks heat absorption. The moment you see ice on the evaporator coil, call for technicians to see what’s up!
The air of your air conditioner that is most susceptible to damage from a refrigerant leak is the compressor. The compressor component is essentially the heart of your air conditioner, or the place where energy is applied to the refrigerant to change its pressure and make it circulate through the rest of the system.
When the refrigerant level is too low, the compressor will begin overheating. Eventually, it will burn out, and the air conditioner will deliver no cooling at all. Replacing a burnt-out compressor is an expensive task, and oftentimes it ends up being more cost-effective to replace the entire air conditioner.