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Jul 28, 2023 8:47:59 AM by Logan Donahue

Your Personal Guide to Your Home's Refrigerant Levels

Refrigerant is the magical substance in your AC unit that transforms the warm, stifling air in your home into a refreshing breeze of coolness. It exists in the form of a vapor or liquid, residing within the evaporator coils and condenser coils, working tirelessly to ensure that the air circulating in your home is nothing short of comfortable and delightfully cool.
However, many people mistakenly believe that their AC unit possesses some sort of mystical "cooling component." In reality, it's a fascinating process of heat energy transfer that takes place.

How Does Refrigerant Work? 

An air conditioner takes the warm air in your home, and cools it down until you’re standing in a comfortable temperature. Refrigerant is found inside your air conditioner’s copper coils. When the AC refrigerant absorbs heat from inside your home, it transitions from a low-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid. Air conditioners send the refrigerant outside, where a fan blows hot air over the coils and exhausts it to the exterior. 
Then, the air conditioner refrigerant cools down and turns back into a low-pressure gas. A second fan inside the home then blows air over the cool coils, distributing the resulting cool air throughout your space. This cycle repeats to create a comfortable atmosphere in your indoor space.
If your AC happens to be running low on refrigerant, the system's powers to cool the air are compromised, and you'll find yourself enduring the unfortunate experience of hot air blowing instead. 

7 Signs Your AC's Refrigerant Level is Low

1. Decrease in cooling efficiency

You may notice that your home is not reaching the desired temperature or that it takes longer for the AC to cool the space.

2. Warm air blowing from your vents

This happens because the low refrigerant level affects the system's ability to absorb heat from the air, resulting in insufficient cooling.

3. Increase in humidity levels

Refrigerant plays a crucial role in dehumidifying the air, so when its running low, the AC unit struggles to remove excess moisture from the indoor environment.

4. Decrease in airflow

As the refrigerant level drops, the system's ability to efficiently circulate air is compromised, resulting in weak airflow from the vents.

5. Unusual sounds

Low refrigerant levels can cause the compressor to work harder, leading to strange noises such as hissing or bubbling.

6. Ice forming on AC unit

The presence of icy or frosted surfaces on your AC unit can be due to insufficient levels of refrigerant. This occurs when the temperature decreases, leading to the formation of ice on the evaporator coil.

7. Increased energy bills

If your AC is suffering from low levels of refrigerant, it will take a longer time for heat to transfer. Consequently, this can lead to inflated energy bills as your AC will have to operate with increased effort and duration.
If you notice any of these signs, it's essential to have a HVAC technician inspect your AC unit. They will be able to accurately diagnose the issue and recharge the refrigerant if necessary. Ignoring low refrigerant levels can lead to further damage to your system and higher energy bills, so it's best to address the problem promptly.

How to Check Your AC Refrigerant Levels

Checking the refrigerant levels in your AC unit can help you identify any potential issues and ensure that your system is running efficiently. While it's always recommended to have a professional HVAC technician perform a thorough inspection, there are a few steps you can take to check the refrigerant levels at home.

1. Turn off your AC

Before you begin, make sure to turn off your AC unit and disconnect it from the power source. This will ensure your safety during the inspection process.

2. Locate the refrigerant lines

The refrigerant lines are usually made of copper or aluminum and can be found near the outdoor unit of your AC system. Look for two pipes, one larger than the other, that connect the outdoor unit to the indoor unit.

3. Inspect the larger line

The larger line is called the suction line and is responsible for carrying cool refrigerant from the indoor unit to the outdoor unit. Run your hand along the suction line and check for any signs of frost or ice. If you notice frost or ice, it could indicate a refrigerant leak or low refrigerant levels.

4. Inspect the smaller line

The smaller line is called the liquid line and carries the warm refrigerant from the outdoor unit to the indoor unit. Check for any oil or residue near the connection points of the liquid line. Oil stains or residue can be a sign of a refrigerant leak.

5. Use a refrigerant pressure gauge

If you have a refrigerant pressure gauge, you can connect it to the service port on the suction line. The pressure gauge will give you a reading of the refrigerant levels. However, it's important to note that interpreting the pressure readings requires technical knowledge, so it's best to consult with a professional if you're unsure.

6. Call a professional

If you notice any signs of low refrigerant levels or suspect a refrigerant leak, it's crucial to call an HVAC technician. They have the expertise and equipment to accurately diagnose and address any issues with your AC unit.
Remember, checking the refrigerant levels at home is just a preliminary step. It's always recommended to have regular maintenance and inspections by a professional to ensure optimal performance and efficiency of your AC system! 
Contact ECI Comfort

If you live in the Delaware Valley/Greater Philadelphia area and would like to find comfort within your home, visit our website or give us a call at 215 - 245 - 3200 to learn more.

This entry was posted in Comfort Tips, Home Performance, Efficiency, Air Conditioning, Refrigerant, R-22, R-410A

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